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The Wicked Share
Croppers


                              PART VII: THE MISCELLANEOUS PARABLES

                                 CHAPTER 31
 

                          Introduction

             The Parable of the Wicked Sharecroppers is found in  all
         three  synoptic  Gospels: Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; and
         Luke 20:9-19.   It  has  variously  been  called  The  Wicked
         Husbandmen   (Trench),   The  Parable  of  the  Tenants  (New
         International Version), and God's Vineyard (Beck).
 

The Story
                           He  [Jesus]  went  on  to  tell  the
                   people  this  parable:  "A  man planted a
                   vineyard, rented it to some  farmers  and
                   went  away  for  a long time.  At harvest
                   time he sent a servant to the tenants  so
                   they  would give him some of the fruit of
                   the vineyard.  But the tenants  beat  him
                   and  sent him away empty-handed.  He sent
                   another servant, but that one  also  they
                   beat and treated shamefully and sent away
                   empty-handed.  He sent still a third, and
                   they wounded him and threw him out.

                        "Then  the  owner  of  the  vineyard
                   said,  `What  shall I do?  I will send my
                   son,  whom  I  love;  perhaps  they  will
                   respect him.'

                         "But when the tenants saw him,  they
                   talked  the  matter  over.   `This is the
                   heir,' they said.  `Let's kill  him,  and
                   the  inheritance  will be ours.'  So they
                   threw him out of the vineyard and  killed
                   him.

                        "What then will  the  owner  of  the
                   vineyard  do  to  them?  He will come and
                   kill those tenants and give the  vineyard
                   to others."

                         When the  people  heard  this,  they
                   said, "May this never be!"

                        Jesus looked directly  at  them  and
                   asked,  "Then what is the meaning of that
                   which is written:

                       "`The stone the builders rejected
                       has become the capstone?'

                         Everyone  who falls on that stone will be
                   broken in pieces, but he on whom it falls
                   will be crushed."

                        The teachers  of  the  law  and  the
                   chief  priests looked for a way to arrest
                   him immediately, because they knew he had
                   spoken  this  parable  against them,  But
                   they were afraid of the  people.    (Luke
                   20:9-19, New International Version).
 

             This  is  the second parable that Jesus gave in response
         to Jewish leaders' questions.  "Tell us by what authority you
         are  doing  these  things,"  they  said.   "Who gave you this
         authority?"  (Luke 20:2, New  International  Version).    The
         chief  priests, scribes and elders made up the Sanhedrin, the
         Supreme Court of the Jewish nation.  In their minds, they had
         the  authority to control the Temple, not Jesus.   (Turnbull, Gen. ed.,
         PROCLAIMING  THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE GOSPEL OF LUKE,
         by Ralph Earle, p. 89).

              Jesus  tells  the   crowd,  which  included  the  Jewish
         leaders,  this  parable.  The arrangement of a landowner with
         sharecroppers or tenants was understood both  by  the  people
         then and by people now.

             The hedge was a thick-set thorn hedge, planted  to  keep
         out  wild  pigs  and  thieves.  The winepress was two troughs
         hollowed out of rock or made of brick, one  higher  than  the
         other.   Grapes were pressed in the higher part and the juice
         ran to the lower end.  The tower was a watchtower and a place
         of  lodging  for  those  working  in the vineyard.  (Barclay,
         DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES, MATTHEW, p. ?).

                     The Interpretation
                  Barclay comments on this parable:
              In interpreting a parable it is  normally  a  first
              principle  that  every  parable has only one point,
              and that point has to be seized, and  that  details
              are  not  to be stressed.   But in the case of
              this parable it is different. the  details  do
              have  meaning.  (Barclay, DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES,  MATTHEW, p. ?).
         The  characters and symbols of  the  story  and  the
       persons and things that they represent in reality are:

              1.  Owner of the Vineyard           GOD
              2.  Three Servants                       Jewish Prophets
              3.  Owner's Son                          Jesus the Messiah
              4.  Tenants (Sharecroppers)        Jewish Leaders
              5.  Others                                  Gentile Church
              6.  The Capstone                        Jesus the Messiah
              7.  The Vineyard                        The Kingdom of God
              8.  Builders                                Jewish Leaders
              9.  Fruit of the Vineyard             Heart Repentance

             Earle  gives  an  excellent  outline  of  the  story and
         interpretation (Turnbull, Gen.  ed.,  PROCLAIMING    THE  NEW
         TESTAMENT,  THE  GOSPEL  OF LUKE, by Ralph Earle, pp. 90-91).
         Below is his outline with other content along with mine:

         1.   THE SERVANTS.  The vineyard owner sent three servants to
         the  sharecroppers:  The  first  they  beat  and  sent  away,
         empty-handed.   The second they beat, insulted, and sent away
         empty-handed.  The third, they wounded and threw out  of  the
         vineyard.     The servants were prophets that God sent to the
         Jewish leaders.  Jewish tradition  states  that  the  Prophet
         Jeremiah  was  stoned  by  the exiles in Egypt and Isaiah was
         sawn in two by king Manasseh.  (Trench, NOTES ON THE PARABLES
         OF OUR LORD, p. 71).

         2.  THE SON.  God  finally  sent  his  Son  to the  religious
         leaders.  "Let us kill the heir and the inheritance  will  be
         ours"  is  not only morally wrong, but logically flawed.  The
         religious leaders  wanted  to  kill  Jesus  to  retain  their
         temporal  hold  on  power for self-aggrandisement and to gain
         more wealth.  They, of all people, should know  that  no  one
         can fight God and win.  However, they persisted and had Jesus
         crucified.

         3.  THE SUBSTITUTION.  He will "kill those tenants  and  give
         the  vineyard  to  others."    (v.  16).    This prophecy was
         partially fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
         It will be completely  fulfilled  in  the  Second  Coming  of
         Christ.    Paul  explains  the passing of the vineyard to the
         Gentiles in  Romans 11.  Please note that there is a  Remnant
         of Israel and that Israel has not been forsaken by God.

              Jesus  identifies  himself  as  the  "stone the builders
         rejected" that became  the  "capstone"  of  the  new  church.
         (Turnbull,  Gen.  ed.,  PROCLAIMING    THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE
         GOSPEL  OF  LUKE, by Ralph Earle, p. 89).  Barclay notes that
         that Jesus quoted from  a composite of  three  Old  Testament
         prophecies:  Psalm  118:22; Isaiah 28:16; and Daniel 2:34-35,
         44-45.  (Barclay, DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES, MATTHEW,  p.  ?).
         Trench further comments:

                   The reason why He leaves for a moment the image of
              the  vineyard,  is because of its inadequacy to set  forth one important
              part of  the  truth,  that  the malice  of  the  Pharisees  should  not
              defeat the  purpose of God,--that the Son should yet  be  Heir.

              THIS  is distinctly declared by the respected stone
              becoming the head  of  the  corner,  on  which  the
              builders  stumbled  and  fell, and were broken, and
              which if they set themselves against it to the end,
              would  fall  upon  them, and crush and destroy them
              utterly.  THEY fall on the stone, who are  offended
              at  Christ in His low estate (Isaiah viii. 14; Luke
              ii. 34); of  this  sin  His  hearers  were  already
              guilty.

                   He warns them against a worse sin  which
              they were on the point  of  committing,  and  which
              would  be followed by a heavier punishment; they on
              whom the stone falls, are they who deliberately set
              themselves  in opposition against the Lord--knowing
              who He is.  They shall not  merely    fall  and  be
              broken,  for  one  might,  although  suffering some
              harm, recover himself,--but on them the stone shall
              fall and grind them to powder  [This refers to  the
              judgment  day for all unbelievers].  (Trench, NOTES
              ON THE PARABLES OF OUR LORD, pp. 73-74).

              Earle concludes:

                    This is the way it is  for  those  who  reject
              Jesus  Christ  and  wish  to hold on to themselves.
              They seek to save themselves and are lost  forever.
              To  find  the  best  and highest in life one has to
              accept God's way and do his will.  (Turnbull,  Gen.  ed.,
              PROCLAIMING  THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE GOSPEL  OF
              LUKE, by Ralph Earle, p. 91).

                             Central Truth

                   IT IS FUTILE TO FIGHT GOD.  
                    IT IS LOGICAL TO JOIN GOD.

                                     Conclusion
        The wisest decision one can make is to accept Christ as
      Lord and Savior.  The most foolish decision one can  make  is
      to  reject  Christ  as  Lord  and Savior.  Let us present the
      truth in love.  END.