A Victorious Vineyard
Perhaps you have known people who were on fire for God. They were in church every time the doors were open. They were serving faithfully and then suddenly they stopped and dropped out. Maybe you know someone who goes through all the motions of being a Christian; they go to church every Sunday, but they are hollow on the inside. Perhaps you know those who are living in open rebellion to God, but still have their foot in the door at church. We have visited them and the pastor has gone to see them. We counsel them from scripture, but they still fail to produce any fruit. They have no passion for Christ and his grace is cheap. They are in no condition to do work for the kingdom because they remain disobedient.
In this parable vineyard represents kingdom work, the tenants represent Israel, the servants represent the prophets of the Old testament, the son represents Jesus and the others in v. 16 represent the Gentiles.
A People without passion
Israel had been God’s chosen people. They had been given God’s message. God had specifically delivered them from Egypt, led them out of the wilderness, given them the promised land, sent prophets to them, gave them godly kings to rule over them and chastised them when they were wrong to correct them. They above anyone else should have had a passion to accomplish the work of God’s kingdom. They should have been excited about kingdom work.
Israel had been too caught up in being legalistic and obeying all the laws and rules while forgetting that they were a nation that should have been doing kingdom work. They had lost their passion for serving God. They were going through the motions, but had no real commitment, or passion to serve Christ.
II. A people without produce
The payment from the tenants would have been fruit from the vineyard v.10. The first servant was not given any fruit, but was beaten, the second servant was also beaten and the third servant was wounded and thrown out. They refused to give any fruit to the landlord.
Sometimes we meet Christians who refuse to give God any produce. They offer him no fruit in their lives. Their lives are without passion and where there is no passion there is no produce. There is no service for Christ, no testimony, no witness for Christ, no love, no compassion, no giving, no encouraging - no fruit.
The landlord sent the servants to collect only what was due to him. God only wants what is due to him, an obedience that produces fruit. The landlord didn’t want the land back; he only wanted what was due to him. Where there is no passion or produce it will always lead to sin. The tenants wanted to kill the son, so the vineyard would be theirs. They became so blinded by their sin that they wanted to be in control. They were unwilling to offer any produce to the master. Their disobedience plunged them into the darkness of sin.
III. A people without provision
God had sent the prophets. He had sent John the Baptist, but they still would not listen, so God sent them a provision for their sins. He sent them his only son to die for all of humanity to provide salvation. The leaders in Israel rejected Christ as the messiah. They rejected God’s provision for their sins.
Have you and I rejected Jesus? I know we are Christians, but have we rejected him by our actions. Have we rejected him by not telling others about him, have we rejected him by not being in his word and have we rejected him by not spending any time with him? When we reject Jesus by our actions it becomes easy to forget about his awesome provision of grace. When we are praying, reading the word, serving, loving, encouraging and obeying it is easier to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made. He is the provision for our sin.
IV. A people Passed by
Because Israel had lost their passion, had no produce and they rejected God’s provision they were passed by. Because Israel failed in the vineyard; the vineyard would now be turned over to the Gentiles and Jewish converts. The kingdom work would be stripped away from the priest, Sadducees and Pharisees.
I shudder to think of the times that God has had to pass us by to do his kingdom work. The times when our passion for Christ had run out and we wanted to be in control, the times when we had no produce to offer God, the times when our hearts were hard, the times that we were not equipped with God’s Word, the times when our prayer life was silent, and the times that we were running from God’s will to seek our own. In those times God had to use someone else to accomplish his plan.
Henry Blackaby, The author of Experiencing God, stated, “God is always at work around us and we join God in that work”. Kingdom work is too exciting for us to be passed by, too fulfilling for us to be passed by, and too awesome for us to be passed by.