He Shall Return!
Matthew 21: 33-46
By Rev. Dr. Sergio Arevalo, Jr.
October 05, 2014 (17th Sunday after Pentecost, World Communion Sunday)
Our passage tells another Parable of Jesus.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went abroad.
When harvest time came, he sent his servants to the tenant farmers to collect his produce.
His tenants did not give what was supposed to be his. He even sent his servants and son. All of them were harassed and killed.
So the owner of the vineyard retuned to find out why his messengers did not return. He discovered that they were all dead. So he made judgment and killed those farmers, and he gave the vineyard to other tenant farmers.
Our Parable tells about the Kingdom of God. God is the creator and therefore the owner of the vineyard or the Kingdom. The first tenant farmers were the Jews, and the second ones are the Christians. The servants and the son who were persecuted and killed were the prophets and the Son of God.
The Parable tells us that the landowner has a vineyard, and the vineyard is the Kingdom of God. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God is the creator of the universe and everything in it. He is also the creator of the Kingdom of God thus, he is the owner of what he created. The implication of this thoughts is that since God is the creator, and the owner of the Kingdom of God, his will must be done and not what the will of the “tenants.”
II. God Trusts Some People to Protect And Nurture His Vineyard
The Parable shows us that the owner left the vineyard for a while. Do we have a busy God here? Actually one of the attributes of God is that he is the Actus Purus. This is a scholastic term for deity, and it means “God is always in action.” Because the divine being was regarded as the transition from potentiality to actuality, it followed that the divine must be pure actuality.
The Parable shows that the landowner chose and hired some people to become stewards of his vineyard. The vineyard was already well planted, he already put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. The vineyard was ready and everybody was just waiting for the harvest. The landowner trusted his tenants to protect and nurture his vineyard. They did, but they did it just to protect their interests.
When Jesus used that Parable, he was referring to the Jews as the first chosen ones to become stewards of the vineyard (Mt. 21:45).
Indeed, the Lord chose the Israelites to pursue the mission of God for the growth of the Kingdom. However, the Jews enjoyed alone their calling. They believe that no matter what they do, the Lord would not leave them, and the Kingdom was for them alone.
God sent prophets but they killed them. Matthew 23:37 says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
- Manasseh the son of Hezekiah slew Isaiah with a wooden saw; he was buried before the outfall of the waters which Hezekiah concealed by the side of Siloah.
- Amos was from the land of Tekoa. The priest of Bethel tortured him and afterwards slew him. Others say that it was he whom Ahaziah the son of Amaziah killed with a staff, and he died.
- Micah the Morashthite was of the tribe of Ephraim, and was slain by Joram the son of Ahab. This prophet prophesied concerning the destruction of the temple of the Jews, and the abrogation of the Passover on the death of the Messiah.
- Habakkuk was of the tribe of Simeon, and from the land of Sûâr (Zoar). This prophet prophesied concerning the Messiah, that He should come, and abrogate the laws of the Jews. He brought food to Daniel at Babylon by the divine (or, angelic) agency. The Jews stoned him in Jerusalem.
- The Jews stoned Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah in Egypt, because he rebuked them for worshipping idols.
- Ezekiel the son of Buzi was of the priestly tribe, and from the land of Serîdâ. The chief of the Jews who was in the land of the Chaldeans slew him, because he rebuked him for worshipping idols. He was buried in the grave of Arphaxar, the son of Shem, the son of Noah.
- Zechariah the son of Berachiah, the priest, was from Jerusalem. Joash the king slew this prophet between the steps and the altar, and sprinkled his blood upon the horns of the altar, and the priests buried him. From that day God forsook the temple, and angels were never again seen in it (sacred-texts.com).
- John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod for his bold statement against his concubinage.
Not all prophets are killed by the Jews, but most of them, if not all of them were persecuted.
III. God Discovers That The Ones He Trusted are Not Worthy of His Trust
The Parable shows that the tenant farmers whom the landowner trusted were actually not trustworthy. They did not believe the messengers, and even the son, so they harassed and killed them. The Parable tells about the reality in the history of Israel.
God has sent a lot of messengers just to gather his people under his wings but they refused it, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Mt. 23:37).
We know that even the Messiah was not welcome in the life of the Jews. Until now they are waiting for the first coming of the Messiah, but actually the Messiah arrived already two thousand years ago. They did not know it, they did not know that they already harassed and killed the Messiah.
IV. God Returns For Judgment And Rewards
Matthew 21:40-41 says “Now when the owner of the vineyard returns, what will he do to those farmers?” They told him, “He will put those horrible men to a horrible death. Then he will lease the vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at harvest time.”
The Lord has already given the vineyard to the “second tenants,” to those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The baton is already forwarded to his apostles, to his ministers and to his believers. We are now the stewards of the Kingdom of God. If we are true and honest to our calling and ministries, the Lord will give us rewards—not only eternal life, but also rights to become children of God.
Mathew 21:42-43 says, “Jesus asked them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes.’? That is why I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce fruit for it.”
These words are challenging us, as stewards, to become fruitful. The parable is challenging us to be good stewards of the Kingdom, a good steward is not just maintaining the kingdom, the vineyard must bear good fruits. If we cannot bear fruit the Kingdom will be taken away from us, and God will give it to those who could produce fruits.
In the Kingdom of God, God has given us different gifts and roles. Some may be pastors, some may be leaders, some may be followers, so may be gardeners, some may be carpenters, some may be drivers, some may be musicians, some may be singers, some may be teachers, some may be doctors and nurses, some may be cleaners, and some may be givers. Whatever is our role in the kingdom let us be good stewards of the Kingdom of God.
Let me tell you a true story about the Pianist and the President.
There were once two young men working their way through Leland Stanford University. Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to one of them to engage Paderewski for a piano recital and devote the profits to their board and tuition.
The great pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of two thousand dollars. The students, undaunted, proceeded to stage the concert. They worked hard, only to find that the concert had raised only sixteen hundred dollars.
After the concert, the students sought the great artist and told him of their efforts and results. They gave him the entire sixteen hundred dollars, and accompanied it with a promissory note for four hundred dollars, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him.
“No,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then tearing the note to shreds, he returned the money and said to them: “Now, take out of this sixteen hundred dollars all of your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work, and let me have the rest.”
The years rolled by—years of fortune and destiny. Paderewski had become premier of Poland. The devastating war came, and Paderewski was striving with might and main to feed the starving thousands of his beloved Poland.
There was only one man in the world who could help Paderewski and his people. Thousands of tons of food began to come into Poland for distribution by the Polish premier. After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank Herbert Hoover for the relief sent him.
“That’s all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was Mr. Hoover’s reply. “Besides, you don’t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college and I was in a hole.” (library.generousgiving.org).
Someday, the Messiah will return, he shall return with power. How are we going to report our accounts? Will he find us honest and fruitful or not?