May it not be that someone else does what the Lord has assigned for you because of your failure and wickedness.
TEXT: Matthew 21: 33-44, Romans 9:3-5, 25-33 READING TEXT: Matthew 21: 33-44
Parables, which were common – place stories, provided our Lord Jesus Christ an effective vehicle of communicating the deep truths of the kingdom of God. This particular one of the Householder and husbandmen was no exception. It reveals God’s eternal plan of salvation for mankind, namely that through Israel the Gospel of Christ be made known to the world. With their reflection of the Messiah, the gentiles – a people who were not regarded as one – have, by faith, become children of Abraham and instruments for the propagation of the Gospel. This parable could be of more significance to our generation than it was to the audience (scribes, Pharisees, commoners, etc.) that received it from the Lord. Israel got carries away with her rich religious heritage,
thinking it could substitute for the Messiah. That same deception has overtaken some of us today. We think the kingdom of God is our exclusive right because of either our position in church or our financial contribution to the church, or some other worldly standard, and fail to bring forth the fruits of true repentance. We can be certain that the fate of these wicked husbandmen will be ours if we fail to repent. Though the program of God for the human race is carried out by men and women who are yielded to Him, it is not subject to any man neither can it be held to ransom by any single individual. Whenever we erroneously think we have become indispensable in the vineyard of the Lord, then the Lord raises someone from obscurity to further His plan. Elijah was taught this humbling truth when he thought he was the only one left who had not bowed down to Baal, not knowing that the Lord had reserved 7,000 faithful individuals, 1 Kings 19:9-18.
The objectives of this study are:
- To know those represented by the householder and husbandmen.
- To know the purpose of the parable.
- To know how to properly take care of that commitment to us.
- To know the consequences of rejecting the Messiah.
- WHO ARE THE HOUSEHOLDER AND HUSBANDMEN?
A householder is one who owns a property which he either takes charge of or leases to others for a period of time and for an agreed return. The returns can be in the form of cash (monetary returns), crop harvest, or in kind. In this parable being considered, the house holder is a land owner who planted a vineyard, walled it round, dug a wine press, and built a watchtower in it and rented the vineyard to some farmers, and went away to another country.
Husbandmen, are in general, stewards to whom are entrusting some responsibilities by a householder. They usually enter into an agreement with the householder, and the agreement specifies their obligations in terms of what, how and when returns are to be made. In this parable, the husbandmen are farmers who rented the vineyard, and promised to send a part of the harvest to the householder. Two groups of husbandmen are mentioned in this parable. The first group reneged on the agreement made to send part of the harvest to the householder. They are called wicked husbandmen because they did not only fail to make returns to the householder but mistreated and even killed the servants and the only Son of the householder. The second group of husbandmen were only called in to take care of the vineyard only after the first group had been driven away because of their unfaithfulness.
When this parable is examined in the light of the divine truth it is expected to convey that the householder represents the Lord; the first group of husbandmen, the Jews, while the second group represents the Gentiles.
- WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF THIS PARABLE?
The parable of the householder and husbandmen refers to God and two groups of people – the children of Israel and the gentiles. This parable reveals the scope of God’s original plan of salvation for the entire world, the Jews being the first beneficiaries. The children of Israel had a rich religious heritage: “There is the adoption of sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God overall forever praised! Amen”, Romans 9:4-5 NIV. This rich heritage was such a source of pride for the Israelites that they went about to establish their own religiousness, Romans 10:3. Consequently, they turned a deaf ear to all the prophets who were sent to them, and eventually rejected Jesus Christ, whom they crucified. On the other hand, the gentiles, devoid of such heritage, were to be recipients of the salvation in Jesus Christ through the children of Israel. Their rejection of Christ sidelined the nation of this responsibility. Through Peter, some of the disciples of Christ, and particularly Paul, the good news of salvation was brought to the gentile world. In Acts 10, Peter’s prejudices against gentiles was destroyed with the vision of unclean animals brought down to him from heaven, and, in obedience to the Lord, preached the word to Cornelius, his household and close friends which was accompanied with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the audience, Acts 10:44-46. Then later the Lord used Paul to expose many gentile nations that then existed to the Gospel. We, who are gentiles, who have come to know the Lord, constitute the second group of husbandmen in this parable. We are the “engrafted olive branch” in Romans 11:11-21 whom Paul warned to live in awe of the Lord always, otherwise we shall, like the Jews, be cut off. Our walk with the Lord calls us to continually work out our salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12.
Another important issue brought out in this parable is the fact that Christ is the sure foundation, a tried and tested stone which was laid by God Himself. All who put their trust on this STONE shall never be dismayed, Isaiah 28:16. We quote from the very last edition of this Manual: “As a sure foundation, it implies 100% reliability, and as a tested stone, it indicates that it has stood the test of time, and as a precious cornerstone, it implies both its value to all men and its indispensability to our lives as the cornerstone is to a building.” We summarize below a five-fold revelation of Christ as the Stone or Rock:
A. Christ is the Rock that was smitten that the Spirit of life may flow to all who drink, Exodus 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:4; John 4:13-16
B. Christ is the capstone of stumbling, 1 Corinthians 1:23; Romans 9:31-33. Unbelief causes men to stumble at this stone.
C. Christ is the Rock cut out to crush the Gentile kingdoms, including that of the Antichrist – not by human hands, but by the divine power of God. Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45
D. Christ is the crushing stone of judgment to all who it falls upon as a result of unbelief. Matthew 21:44.
- HOW CAN WE AVOID BEING UNPROFITABLE HUSBANDMEN?
As earlier stated, husbandmen are stewards, and the chief requirement of stewards is faithfulness. Thus, to avoid being unprofitable husbandmen, we must be faithful to the Lord. First, we must all recognize that every believer has been committed with something for which the Lord demands his faithfulness. Every believer has been committed with the ministry of reconciliation, which requires that we make conscious efforts at reaching friends, relations, work mates, school mates, and those with whom we come in contact with the Gospel of Christ. For many of us, the interest in doing this is rarely there; it is no longer a priority as it was when we first came to know the Lord. We are exhorted today to seek the Lord for a new zeal in sharing our faith with those who are lost.
Our time, financial resources, and talents (professional and spiritual) have been entrusted to us to be used to honor the Lord. We are stewards of these resources, and we are certainly at some time going to give account to the Lord how well we utilized them for the furtherance of the kingdom. Our time could be used in profitable visitations which could be a source of encouragement to a weak brother or sister; our finances can be used in assisting those who have needs in our midst, and our talents could be used in edifying the body of Christ. To be idle and unprofitable in the body of Christ is a great dis-service and abuse of God’s endowments in our lives. Many of our local congregations will profit immensely when our resources are utilized in running the various departments – ushering, music, teaching, and other areas of ministering, etc. When that becomes the case, there will be a steady and healthy growth in the body of Christ.
- IS THE HOUSEHOLDER STILL SENDING SERVANTS TODAY?
The trust of the program of God for the salvation of our world is directed primarily at gentile nations. The Lord desires that all men be saved. In fulfillment of that spoken by our Lord in Matthew 24:14: “and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The preaching of the gospel to peoples, tribes and races who had not heard it before is taking and unprecedented dimension. Servants of the Householder are being raised daily to go to remote lands and peoples who had been known to be hostile to the kingdom. Some, in the process, are being maltreated and killed. At the same time, a lot of progress is being made, with in-roads being made with the Gospel. Because this is dear to the heart of the Householder that all men be saved, He will continue to raise men and women whose testimony would confound the devils, so that those under his grip can be liberated and set free. You may well be such an instrument in the land of the Lord.
- WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTING THE HOUSEHOLDER AND HIS SON?
Christ asked the Pharisees and Scribes after He had shared the parable with them, this heart-breaking and thought-provoking question, “when the Lord of the Vineyards comes, what will He do to the husbandmen?” Of course, they rightly replied, “He will miserably destroy these wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render Him the fruits in their seasons”,
Matthew 21:40-41. The term miserable destroy connotes destruction without mercy or pity or iota of compassion. Hebrews 2:1-3 says, “…How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” Hebrews 10:31 further says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” There is surely a certain judgment that awaits all those who reject the plan of salvation in Christ Jesus. We are still in the period when we can still avert the judgment of God by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
In Christian service, no one is too important to be indispensable. When we think that we have become indispensable, then we find to our amazement someone else being raised to do the Lord’s business more effectively. To remain in the place of effective service for the Lord, we must avoid depending on our religious heritage (past achievements, position held in the Church, etc.), remain humble under the mighty hand of the Holy Spirit, and yielded to His dealings continually. Then we maintain being profitable husbandmen, as our talents, resources and endowments find expressions in distinguished service to the body of Christ and humanity. In these closing moments of this age, no believer should be idle; there is so much that can be done for the kingdom that it requires the input of all. The Householder needs you today in His vineyard to bring forth fruits at harvest.
“Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and though standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear.”