And he began to speak to them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and dig a place for the winefat…
A rude demand upon Jesus for his authority led him to ask in reply "one question" which awakened the consciences of his interrogators and threw them into confusion and difficulty. They were hurrying him on to his final hour, and he must needs take advantage of every opportunity of finishing the work given him to do. Therefore "in parables" he spake both "unto them" and "against them," which but roused their ire, and sent them away to plot and plan for his destruction. No word was needed to' declare who was represented by the vineyard. "For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel." And the details of the parable were minutely historic. How often had "a servant" been sent "that he might receive of the fruits of the vineyard"! How often had he been "handled shamefully"! Now a last chance is offered. "He had yet one, a beloved son: he sent him last unto them." The rest is prophecy ready to be fulfilled, and so soon to become history also. But the appeal, "What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do?" he does not leave them to answer, but supplies it in simple words and in such manner as to make the reply an admonitory warning. Alas! our eyes behold the precise fulfillment. And the rejected stone is now the Foundation-stone, "the Head of the corner." The parable reveals -
I. A GRACIOUS EXAMPLE OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS AND PATIENCE. It was a direct dealing with Israel, but it was an indirect dealing with all men. The comment is found in the historic development of the history of Israel.
II. A PAINFUL INSTANCE OF HUMAN UNFAITHFULNESS. This, as in all instances of a want of fidelity to important trusts, was sadly disastrous. But not only to them to whom the trust was committed, for all men expiate the sins of every unfaithful one. The condition of society is lowered; good fruits are blighted and cannot be gathered; pains and penalties are incurred which fall heavily upon all. Had every man been faithful to his trust, what a paradise this hard earth would have presented! But the world walks on a lower plane for every unholy life passed upon it. Had that vineyard brought forth its due fruits, all nations would have been made partakers. Of the few small patches which bore, the world has the fruit in those holy records which are as the salt of the earth. But how much of the corn and the oil and the wine is wanting! On this account is presented -
III. A SAD ILLUSTRATION OF THE DIVINE JUDGMENT. Israel is deposed. The sacred trust is withdrawn. The vineyard is in other hands. The unfaithful husbandmen, as such, are destroyed. Alas for Israel! Her crown is in the dust, her harps upon the willows. She does not with her voice sing the pleasant songs of Zion. She is not the great spiritual power in the earth for which she was designed. Her calling and election she did not make sure. True, for the fathers' sakes she remains a testimony in the earth. But it is as a broken-off branch. The world gains nothing by Israel's rejection. The Gentiles are wise to weep and mourn on her behalf; and, knowing that "God is able to graft them in again, they are wise to pray earnestly for their recovery. "The receiving of them" would be "life from the dead." So let every Gentile believer pitifully behold the nation sitting in the dust, having become the uncircumcision in the spirit: and at this time, alas! "separate from Christ" and really "alienated from the commonwealth of" the true "Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope." Nor can it be otherwise till they who now are "far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ." - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.