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CVIII.

In Reply to the Questions as to His Authority, Jesus Gives the Third Great Group of Parables.

(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.)

Subdivision C.

Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen.

A Matt. XXI. 33–46; B Mark XII. 1–12; C Luke XX. 9–19.

b 1 And he began to speak unto them c the people [not the rulers] b in parables. { c this parable:} a 33 Hear another parable: There was a man that was a householder [this party represents God], who planted a vineyard [this represents the Hebrew nationality], and set a hedge about it, and digged a b pit for the a winepress in it [The winepress consisted of two tub-shaped cavities dug in the rock at different levels, the upper being connected with the lower by an orifice cut through from its bottom. Grapes were placed in the upper cavity, or trough, and were trodden by foot. The juice thus squeezed from them ran through the orifice to the trough below, from which it was taken and stored in leather bottles until it fermented and formed wine], and built a tower [a place where watchmen could be stationed to protect the vineyard from thieves as the grapes ripened for the vintage], and let it out to husbandmen [the rulers are here 591represented; and the rental was, as usual, a part of the fruits], and went into another country. c for a long time. [Jesus frequently refers to this withdrawal of the visible presence of God from the world, always bringing out the point that the withdrawal tests faithfulness. God had come down upon Mt. Sinai, given the law and established the Hebrew nation, after which he had withdrawn. That had indeed been a long time ago; and for four hundred years before the appearance of John the Baptist, God had not even sent a messenger to demand fruit. Some think the hedge refers to the manner in which Palestine was protected by sea and desert and mountain, but the hedge and the winepress and the tower are mere parabolic drapery, for every man who planted a vineyard did all three.] a 34 And when { c at} the season a of the fruits drew near, c he sent unto the husbandmen a servant, { a his servants} i. e., the prophets] c that they should give him { b that he might receive a to receive from the husbandmen} of the { a his} b fruits of the vineyard. [Luke iii. 8—He expected the children of Israel to bring forth joy, love, peace, and all the other goodly fruit of a godly life. And he looked to those in authority to bring forth such results, and the prophets were sent to the rulers to encourage them to do this.] 3 And { c but} the husbandmen b took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty, 4 And again he sent unto them c yet another servant: him also they beat, b wounded in his head, and handled shamefully. c and sent him away empty. b 5 And he sent c yet b another; c a third: and him also they wounded, b and him they killed: c and cast him forth. b and many others; beating some, and killing some. a 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them in like manner. [For the treatment of the prophets, see such passages as I. Kings xviii. 13; xxii. 24–27; II. Kings vi. 31; II. Chron. xxiv. 19–22; xxxvi. 15, 16. For a summary of the treatment of the prophets or messengers of God, 592see Heb. xi. 35–38.] 37 But b 6 He had yet one, a beloved son: a afterward b he sent him last unto them, c 13 And the lord of the vineyard said, { b saying,} c What shall I do? [Isa. v. 4.] I will send my beloved son; it may be they will reverence him. b They will reverence my son. [The lord of the vineyard was thoroughly perplexed. The conduct of his husbandmen was outrageous beyond all expectation. He had no better servants to send them unless his only son should take upon him the form of a servant and visit them (Phil. ii. 5–8). Being tender and forgiving, and unwilling to resort to extreme measures, the lord of the vineyard resolved to thus send his son, feeling sure that the son would represent the person, authority and rights of the father so much better than any other messenger (Heb. i. 1–5; ii. 1–3), that it would be well-nigh impossible for the husbandmen to fail of reverence towards him. In striking contrast, however, with this expectation of the Father, the rulers, or the husbandmen, had just now harshly demanded of the Son that he tell by what authority he did anything in the vineyard.] a 38 But the { b those} a husbandmen, when they saw { c him} a the son, c they reasoned one with another, a said among themselves, { c saying,} a This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and take his inheritance. c that the inheritance may be ours. b and the inheritance shall be ours. [In thus bringing the story down to the immediate present, and stating a counsel which his enemies had just spoken privately in each other's ears, Jesus must have startled them greatly. He showed them, too, that those things which made them deem it necessary to kill him were the very things which proved his heirship. They regarded the Jewish nation as their property, and they were plotting to kill Jesus that they might withhold it from him (John xii. 19; xi. 47–50). That men might hope by such high-handed lawlessness to obtain a title to a vineyard seems incredible to us who have always been familiar with the even-balanced justice of constitutional government; but in the East the looseness of governments, the selfish apathy and lack 593of public spirit among the people, and the corrupt bribe-receiving habits of the judges makes our Lord's picture even to this day, though rather exceptional, still true to life. At this point Jesus turns from history to prophecy.] 8 And they took him, c 15 And they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. [After two intervening days the Jews would fulfill this detail by thrusting Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem and crucifying him there.] a 40 When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons. c 16 [Jesus said] He will come and destroy these { b the} husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. c And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. [Part of the multitude, hearing only the story, pronounced unhesitatingly the judgment which ought to be inflicted upon such evil-doers, and Jesus confirmed their judgment. But others, perceiving the meaning underlying the parable, shrank from accepting what would otherwise have been to them a very proper ending, and said, Mee genoito, which means literally, Be it not so, and which might properly be paraphrased by our emphatic “Never!” but which the revisers in translating have, with small warrant, seen fit to paraphrase by using the semi-profane expression, “God forbid.” There are fourteen such mistranslations in the epistles of Paul according to the King James version and only one of them (Gal. vi. 14) is corrected in the Revised version. In defense of these translations it is asserted that the phrase is an idiomatic invocation of the Deity, but the case can not be made out, since the Deity is not addressed.] 17 But he looked upon them [Thus emphasizing the fact that they had repudiated a most just decree. His look, doubtless, resembled that of a parent surprised at the outspoken rebellion of his children], and a 42 Jesus saith { c said,} a unto them, c What then is this that is written, b 10 Have ye not read even this scripture: a Did ye never 594read in the scriptures, c The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner? a This was from the Lord, And it is marvellous in our eyes? [The quotation is from Ps. cxviii. 22, 23, which is here by Jesus applied as a prophecy to the Pharisees, who, in their treatment of him, were like unskilled builders who reject the very corner-stone of the building which they seek to erect. The Pharisees were eager enough in their desire to set up a Messianic kingdom, but were so blindly foolish that they did not see that this kingdom could not be set up unless it rested upon Christ Jesus, its corner-stone. They blundered in constructing their theory of the coming kingdom, and could find no room for one such as Jesus in it.] 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And he { c 18 Every one} a that falleth on this { c that} a stone shall be broken to pieces: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust. [The stone, of course, represents Jesus, and the two fallings set forth his passive and active state. In the day when he passively submitted to be judged, those who condemned him were broken ( Matt. xxvii. 3–5; Luke xxiii. 48; Acts ii. 37); but in the great day when he himself becomes the acting party and calls his enemies to judgment, they shall prefer, and pray, that a mountain fall upon them—Rev. vi. 15–17.] 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees, c 19 And the scribes a heard his parables, they c sought to lay hands on him in that very hour, b for they perceived that he a spake of them. b spake the { c this} parable against them. a 46 And when they sought to lay hands on him, c they feared the people: { b multitude; a multitudes,} because they took him for a prophet. b and they left him, and went away. [Despite the warning which Jesus gave them that they were killing the Son and would reap the consequences, and despite the fact that he showed that the Psalm which the people had used so recently with regard to him foretold a great rejection which would prove to be a 595mistake, yet the rulers persisted in their evil intention to take his life, and were only restrained by fear of the people, many of whom were Galilæans, men of rugged courage, ready to draw swords on Jesus' behalf. Since they could neither arrest nor answer him, they withdrew as a committee, but returned again in the person of their spies.]

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