Father, give us a still backbone, a tender, loving heart, and a desire to please God and not man. Persecution comes to help us to remember that payment that Jesus made for us on the cross. May that memory strengthen us and encourage us to persevere in the faith. Help me to exalt Christ in this sermon and to motivate this congregation and myself to die to self and to live to Christ, for it's in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray, amen.
You may be seated. Verse 1 here tells us that He began to speak to them in parables. I think it's very important for us to understand the context in which His parable was written. Jesus has just cleansed the temple, and the people are absolutely shocked at what they consider His audacity. Jesus saw what was going on in the temple.
He was absolutely infuriated. He saw the merchants that were selling sick and diseased and weak animals, and they were selling them for exorbitant prices, and then He saw the money changers who were exchanging foreign currency into Israel's currency, and they were charging exorbitant rates, and the religious leaders were doing nothing about it because they were getting rich off the kickbacks. Jesus saw all this, and He absolutely cleansed, cleaned house. He went over to the cages of the animals and the birds and let them out. They were running down the street to freedom. The birds were flying through the air. He went over to the money exchanger's table, and He took the table and He flipped it over.
Money's flying through the air. He made His own whip. He took that whip, and He began to crack it over His head, and the religious leaders went running out of the temple.
Finally, the dust settled. The religious leaders came back, and when they came sneaking back in, they started yelling at Jesus. They said, what right and authority did you have to do this? Only the priest had the authority to cleanse the temple, and you were not a priest. Jesus turned to them, and He pointed them back to the baptism of John. His baptism by John was a part of the ceremonial ordination into the priesthood. Jesus was saying to them, I am not a Levitical priest. I am a priest of a higher order. I am a Melchizedek priest. I am not just a priest. I am the priest.
I am the high priest, and God has ordained my priesthood, and it was confirmed by my sinless life. I'm telling you, the religious leaders were dumbfounded. They thought that they could just get Jesus and do Him in, but Jesus turned the tables on them. They thought they could force Jesus to prove His authority and that Jesus could not do it, but Jesus did exactly what they thought they could not do.
He proved His authority. Jesus knows that He's just stirred up a horrible hornet's nest. The truth was not going to stop these wicked men, so if they could not stop Jesus by their words, they would stop Him by violence and murder. They rejected His authority, and they rejected the truth. Folks, 2,000 years has not changed things much, has it?
Not much at all. I remember saving an email that I got 10 years ago, and this email was sent to PCA denomination and other Bible-believing denominations, and it was warning us of what's going on in our culture, that our culture has become completely godless and has become a moral cesspool, and that the churches that stand strong for the truth that are conservative and Bible-believing churches that care about doctrine, that care about theology, that care about truth, they're going to be ignored, they're going to be canceled out, and they're going to be persecuted. Now, this was written 10 years ago. Things have gotten much worse since then.
Let me read you what he said. The new generation has 400 cable TV channels, and each person finds the one he likes best. The new generation is on the internet with millions of links to whatever you can think of.
The new generation grew up with cell phones and is constantly in touch with their peers via texting and tweeting. The new generation grew up with divorced parents and step-moms and dads and distrust the concept of marriage. The new generation doesn't care if a person is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight.
It has no moral meaning, and it is an individual choice. The new generation doesn't share a common popular music because the choices are multitudinous, and each person can have exactly what he or she wants. The new generation doesn't date.
They hang out. Commitment to one person for very long is just an option. The new generation has casual sex more than any previous generation. Sex is no big deal.
Contraception is easy and expected. The new generation is not concerned about abortion, just another individual choice. The new generation has a prolonged adolescence. Who wants to grow up and take on the burdens of responsibility? The new generation doesn't hope to do better than their parents did in life. The economy is in decline. Live for today.
You will likely be poor no matter what. The new generation thinks that all religions or no religion at all is just fine, just another choice. Why get worked up about it?
Just be cool. The new generation believes in evolution. That was proved to them in public school system. Creationists are kooks.
God did not make us. The new generation believes in socialism. They have been taught it in public school all their lives. They believe in big government. The new generation is largely poor. They believe in higher taxes on wealthier people. After all, they themselves have little to tax. The new generation believes that the Bible is outmoded and not to be taken seriously.
Whatever religion you like or no religion at all, it doesn't matter. Wow. Is that true? Are we that out of step with our society? Is there any hope for us? And my answer to that is absolutely yes, there is hope for us. I say that the true church is never going to be accepted by the world.
It never has been. The true church is not going to fail. The success of the true church has never been dependent on the world's approval. Jesus said, on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Folks, that didn't come from a survey. That came from the lips of Christ himself. Now, there have been times when God has supernaturally moved on a nation or a tribe or a people group, and when God moved on that nation, there was genuine repentance, there was genuine coming to Christ, and the culture in those times became pretty much God-ward. I think back to the early 1900s when there were 13 people in the nation of Wales that got together for a prayer meeting at their church on a Sunday night. They stayed there all night long, praying, begging God for revival.
Over the next six months, 80 percent of the nation of Wales came to a saving knowledge of Christ. The 50 percent of the bars in that nation just quit. They sold their buildings, and most of the buildings were bought by churches. Because there were so many new Christians, they needed the space. The farmers had a problem, and the farmers had a problem because their language had been so ugly and so filled with curse words that the mules couldn't understand what they were saying anymore.
And so, the mules didn't know what to do. Folks, the nation had to lay off half the police force, 50 percent of the police force because the crime rate dropped down close to nothing. And many of the unbelievers that hated the Christian faith just decided to leave the country because the pressure on them was too great, they could not stand the conviction of sin. Christianity in the nation of Wales during those three decades was not at odds with the culture. In America, we have seen seasons like that. First Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, the revival in the south during the 1800s, and some great things happened there. It became harmony between the culture and Christianity because Christian influence permeated the culture.
Those times are anomalies, they are not the norm. And we should not expect the world to get excited about people who are sharing the gospel of Christ. Folks, the war that we see in the hearts of the religious leaders against Christ was a war against authority. And I want you to know that the war that is taking place in our culture against Christianity today is also a war against authority, and it's a war against the authority of the Word of God. And that matters.
And that matters. When churches capitulate and they bow to the culture rather than bowing to God's Word, then the tension eases up. That gets a little easier for them, but the church loses its power and influence. Two weeks ago, 58 more United Methodist churches left their denomination.
CBN gave a report on that, I want to read you what they said. The UMC, the United Methodist Church, is accelerating its moves to become more exciting or more accepting of LGBTQ people, leading to more divisions and more departures from the group. Each of the church's five U.S. jurisdictions met separately this month to approve measures where LGBTQ people will be protected, affirmed, and empowered. They call that loving. Let me tell you something, it is never loving to stand against the Word of God and its truth. It is never loving to quit being the salt and the light that God's called us to be. Passage that we are dealing with today deals with rejected authority, and the bottom line is this, we stand at a crossroads. And we have a choice to make, and the choice is between the culture or the cross. If we choose the cross, then there's going to be a high price to pay. Second Timothy chapter 3 verse 12 says, all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. In Philippians chapter 1 and verse 29 it says, for it is given unto you on the behalf of Christ not only to believe upon Him, but also to suffer for His sake. You will be laughed at, you will be mocked, and you will be criticized.
Your relationship with friends and even family may be strained. As our culture becomes more anti-God, vocal persecution will evolve into emotional persecution and even physical persecution. Churches are going to lose their tax-exempt status, and preachers are going to be thrown in jail because they preached the truth and it was called a hate crime. We live in America. America has been a haven for Christians for over 250 years. The nation claims to be the most tolerant nation on the face of the earth, but it has little tolerance for the authority of God's Word. All right, I've got four points that I want to share with you as we look at this parable today.
The first point is rejected authority, and the first point of rejected authority is the setting. Look with me at verse 1. And he began to speak to them in parables.
A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and he leased it to the tenants and went into another country. Jesus used the religious leaders' outburst where they were jumping on His authority. He used that to teach this parable. It was the most allegorical parable that Jesus ever taught, and that means there's a lot of symbolism here.
Let me share with you very quickly some symbolism. First of all, the owner of the vineyard is God. The vineyard is Israel. The wicked tenants in the vineyard are the religious leaders. The servants are the prophets of God in the Old Testament, and then the son of the owner of the vineyard is Jesus Christ.
Point two, authority violated. Look at verses 2 through 8. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get them some of the fruit of the vineyard, and they took him, and they beat him, and they sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them to another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and they had him killed, and so with many others.
Some they beat, some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, They will respect my son, but those tenants said to one another, This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours. They took him and killed him, threw him out of the vineyard. Jesus said that the owner of the vineyard sent one of his servants to the vineyard to get some of the fruit that should be ready to be harvested and to bring it back to him. This is a direct reference to a passage of scripture in Isaiah chapter 5. Very interesting, in Isaiah chapter 5 there's a story that is told by Isaiah, and the scripture says that he sang it. A lot of scholars believe that he dressed up like a balladeer, had a mandolin, and came and sang this story. He said there was an owner that bought this parcel of land, then he cleared it off, cleared out all the rocks, cut down all the trees, he dug up all the stumps of the trees, then he plowed the land.
He took fertilizer and covered over the land that he had plowed, and then he took seed. The seed that is mentioned here in Isaiah 5 is called the Sarek seed. It's the best grape on the face of this earth. It's a grape that gets as big as a plum, and it tastes just like honey. When I was over in Israel, I had the privilege of eating one, it is absolutely amazing. George Bush, Sr., when he was president, and they were having a big shindig at the White House and invited all the diplomats and the dignitaries there from all over the world, he would call to Israel and order these Sarek grapes.
When they came back in, he would serve it at the dinner, and it would always be the favorite dish. This is the seed that Isaiah says that was planted. It was a seed that produced the most luscious and beautiful grapes in the world. Well, he had it cleared, he had it weeded, he had all this work done, and then when the grapes finally began to blossom, when they popped out, they weren't these beautiful luscious Sarek grapes at all. They were stink berries. They were nasty. They had shriveled up. They smelled bad. They tasted sour.
They were awful. So, who was to blame? Not the owner.
The owner had done everything he possibly could to have it exactly as it should be, that good fruit should be being produced, but the wicked leaders in the vineyard, the people in the vineyard, the people that were watching over it had not watched over it correctly, and terrible seed had grown up into terrible grapes. Folks, what did these wicked tenants do? Did they apologize? No. Did they say, well, we're to blame?
Absolutely not. What did they do? They attacked the servants that came, and those servants are a picture of the Old Testament prophets. I want you to think back to the Old Testament for a minute. The Old Testament prophets, what did they do? They came in. They preached the Word of God. They preached it with power. They preached it with unction. They preached their heart out. They told people about their need to repent. They told people about their need to trust in God and trust in God alone. They told people how they were supposed to be producing good fruit, and what happened to them. They were mocked.
They were beaten, and some of them were killed. Think of the ones, the Old Testament prophets. I think of Elijah. After he had the contest with Baal, and they won, God did it, and he preached his heart out. Queen Jezebel put a contract out on his life to have him put to death.
I think of Jeremiah. They threw him down to a mud pit, hoping that he would die. He didn't, but they hoped he would. Micaiah was thrown in prison. Isaiah was sawn in half.
Zechariah was murdered in the temple courtyard. John the Baptist came much later, but John the Baptist had his head chopped off. And then the great deacon, the great deacon Stephen, was preaching to these very same religious leaders.
Listen to what he said. Which of the prophets did your fathers persecute? And they killed those who had announced beforehand the coming of the righteous one. The result of his teaching and his preaching was that they took him, and they stoned him to death. Folks, the lesson here is this.
The true church, who is faithful to the Lord, should expect hostility to the gospel, and expect persecution for preaching in the name of Christ. Those are important lessons, but that's not the most important lesson in this parable. The most important lesson is this, the owner sending his son to the vineyard. He sent his son to the vineyard, and he said, they will respect my son. They did not respect his son.
They put his son to death. Evil men murdered Jesus. Folks, people, we are standing on holy ground here. In the Gospel of John, the religious leaders were chiding Jesus, and they said, who do you think you are? Do you think, Jesus, that you are greater than our father Abraham? And Jesus said to them, Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad. When did Abraham see Jesus' day?
I think it was in Genesis chapter 22. In Genesis 22, God told Abraham, I want you to take your only son, Isaac, the son whom you love. I want you to take him up to Mount Moriah. I want you to lay him down on the altar of God.
I want you to sacrifice him, sacrifice him to me. And with tears rolling down his cheeks, Abraham obeyed. He took his son, Isaac, up on top of Mount Moriah. He laid him out on the altar. He tied him up there, and then he took the knife in his hand. He raised it up over his head to plunge it into his heart to put an end to his life, and right as he was about to do that, God stopped him and said, no, Abraham, don't kill your son. And he pointed him over to a ram that was caught in the thicket, and he said, instead, sacrifice the ram.
And Abraham went over, and he took Isaac off of the altar, and he took the ram, he placed it there instead, and he killed the lamb instead of his own son. I believe it was at that point that Abraham saw Jesus' day and rejoiced in it. I believe that God gave him the ability to look 1,800 years into the future. I don't know if he saw a vision. I don't know if he just had this understanding, but I believe that he saw in his mind a picture of Jesus Christ hanging from that cross, dead.
He saw that. Abraham did not have to spare his son, but God the Father did allow his son to go to the cross and to die for his people. That's what Abraham rejoiced over. Abraham had a small taste of what God the Father felt when Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross. Now, Abraham was a sinful man, and so he didn't understand because his love was not perfect like God's love was perfect, but God is a perfect God.
His love is absolutely perfect. So the pain that God the Father suffered when Jesus died on the cross is magnified beyond what we can even begin to imagine. Then the wicked tenants in the parable said, this is the owner's son.
We will kill him, and then we'll get the inheritance. All they cared about was their wealth and their pleasure. That was all that mattered to them. They didn't care that the owner's heart would be broken.
They didn't care that the owner's son would die. So what we've got here is this. The Father's love is magnified. The son's sacrifice is glorified, and the religious leader's sin is shown to be what it really is. So what's the application?
I think the application is this. Don't focus on the religious leader's sin, because your sin and my sin is just his heinous. Just his heinous. My sin and your sin are heinous. It was my sin that sent Jesus to the cross. It was my lustful looks. It was my unforgiving attitudes. It was my prideful boasting. It was my covetous actions. It was my unbelief. It was my fear of man that sent Jesus to the cross. I caused the pain in the heart of God the Father. When Jesus is hanging on the cross, there was an earthquake that hit the earth.
I believe that that earthquake could have been the sobs of his Heavenly Father. When Jesus is hanging on the cross for three hours, darkness covered over the land. Darkness that was so dark that you could feel it. It was that dark.
I believe that darkness is a picture of the grief that was in the heart of God the Father as Jesus was dying for his people. Here's the bad thing about that, folks. I caused it.
You caused it. That's why Paul said this, that God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the world was crucified unto me and I unto the world. Point three, authority judged. Look at verse nine. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. What will happen to people who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior? Jesus said, what will the owner of the vineyard do?
He said, owner of the vineyard will destroy these wicked tenants. What Jesus was saying was those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be destroyed and will spend forever in eternal hell. Have you seen all the cute little bumper stickers on the back of cars that say coexist with all the little religious symbols?
What statement are they making? They're saying, hey, Jesus is wrong. Jesus is not the way, the truth, and the life. He's not the only way to God the Father. There are many other ways. You can choose any way you want to go to get to God.
Jesus is just one of the ways. This parable says absolutely not. He says that the coexist bumper stickers are a slap in the face of Christ. The bumper sticker is saying our idols, our false gods, our demon spirits are just as powerful and just as relevant and just as loving as Jesus Christ.
Oh no, not a bit. Folks, the day is coming where the Scripture says this. It says, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Not Buddha, not Krishna, not Shinto, not Pharaoh, not the President of the United States, not our wealth, but only Jesus Christ is Lord.
What was the response of the wicked tenants? They said, surely not. God would not do this to us. We've done religious stuff. Let me tell you something, folks, religious stuff doesn't mean squat.
It doesn't matter. On the final days when we stand before God, we better be standing not on our own credentials but on the sinless, spotless credentials of the Lord Jesus Christ. His sinless, perfect blood.
Point four, two stones. Look at verses 10 through 12. Have you not read this Scripture, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone? This was the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.
They were seeking to arrest him but feared the people for they perceived that he had told the parable against them so they left him and went away. It's really one stone, that's Christ, it has two functions. First of all, he's the cornerstone.
What does that mean? That means that he is the foundation of the church. First Corinthians chapter 3 verse 11 says, for other foundation has no man laid but that which is Christ.
That which is Christ. In King Solomon's day, the builders of the temple had a responsibility to move away from the temple area because no sound of hammer or chisel could be heard in the temple area so they had to go out to the stone quarry to make the stones and they went out there to make the stones. The first one that they made was the cornerstone.
It was absolutely massive. It was huge and they had it right there in the middle of everything and they couldn't get around it and so they were trying to work, they were trying to get around it and it was just too big so they said, we got to do something with this and they pushed it down the hill. It rolled down the hill and then they cut out the rest of the stones as they were taking all the stones up to the temple so they could put it all together and build the temple all of a sudden when they got there they realized, wait a minute, wait a minute, something's wrong here. Where's the cornerstone? Where's the most important stone?
Where's the foundation? And they realized that they had rolled it down the hill, they had cast it aside, they had treated it as if it really didn't matter. Folks, that was a picture of what Israel did with Jesus.
They rejected his authority. They put their Savior to the side and in so doing, they lost everything. Jesus is one stone that has two functions. He is a cornerstone to those who love him and he is a stumbling stone to those who don't. And if he's a stumbling stone to you, that means that you'll be crushed and there will be no hope for all of eternity. If he is your cornerstone, then you will spend forever with the Son of God.
You will love him, you will see his presence each day, you will feel the nail prints in his hands, you will be able to worship him face to face forever and ever. I want to close with John MacArthur's words. He said, to Israel's leader in their ignorance, the stone did not measure up. It was a rejected stone, inadequate, imperfect, unacceptable, not to be the head of the corner, unable to support the whole structure and symmetry of God's glorious kingdom.
But they were dead wrong. Jesus is God's cornerstone, the very one of whom was said two days earlier during the triumphal entry, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Matthew adds to the account a final word from the Lord. Before I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, given to a people producing the fruit of it, and who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces, but whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.
This was a terrible reiteration of crushing judgment. It was also a prophecy of the church. God's new people composed of Jew and Gentiles, born at Pentecost, did not the psalmist have this in mind when he wrote this? This is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we've been studying one of your most powerful parables today. There's much for us to learn. Disciples needed to hear it. The wicked religious leaders needed to hear it.
And so do we. Lord prepare us for persecution. Help us to marvel over the payment that Jesus made for us on the cross. Help us now, Lord, to prepare our hearts and to get ready to enjoy the presence of God as we celebrate the Lord's Supper. And it's in Jesus' precious and holy name that we pray, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-04 18:57:15 / 2022-12-04 19:09:03 / 12