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The Murder of God’s Son: A Prophetic Parable, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 23, 2021 4:00 am

The Murder of God’s Son: A Prophetic Parable, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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July 23, 2021 4:00 am

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Now as we look at this story and the subsequent statements of our Lord that follow it, we're going to be introduced to the coming death of Christ and its implications. This then is a very important parable.

It is a sweeping and comprehensive story told in very simple language. Charles Spurgeon once noted, We speak of Christ as being meek and lowly in spirit, and so he was, but his meekness was balanced by his courage and by the boldness with which he denounced hypocrisy. Today on Grace To You, you're going to see how Jesus boldly and vigorously confronted hypocritical false teachers. I urge you to listen closely today because bottom line, you need the same attitude toward error that Jesus displayed.

So follow along with John MacArthur now as he continues his study titled, How to Talk to a Heretic. If you will, open your Bible to the 20th chapter of Luke. We come to verse 9 and a prophetic parable, a prophetic parable concerning the murder of God's Son. Jesus is speaking to the people in the parable before us about the leaders. This parable that we come to in verse 9 is one of three parables directed at the leaders. Matthew gives all three of them, Luke only gives one.

During the day, Wednesday, from the very early morning throughout the day, Jesus was moving through the temple teaching. It may well have been that He repeated with slight variations this parable several times. Matthew's account of the parable is substantially exactly the same with a few variables. Mark's account of the parable is substantially the same with a few variables and it is very likely that as He moved in the mass of people, He retold and reintroduced these themes.

But there is no essential difference in this parable. As I said, in Matthew's gospel you have two other parables, this is the middle of the three, Luke only gives us this one. Let me tell you the story that Jesus told, the prophetic parable that begins in verse 9. And He began to tell the people this parable. A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey for a long time. And at the harvest time, He sent a slave to the vine-growers in order that they might give Him some of the produce of the vineyard. But the vine-growers beat Him and sent Him away empty-handed. And He proceeded to send another slave and they beat Him also and treated Him shamefully, sent Him away empty-handed. And He proceeded to send a third and this one also they wounded and cast out. And the owner of the vineyard said, What shall I do?

I will send my beloved Son, perhaps they will respect Him. But when the vine-growers saw Him, they reasoned with one another saying, This is the heir, let us kill Him and the inheritance may be ours. And they threw Him out of the vineyard and killed Him. What therefore will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.

That's the story. Now as we look at this story and the subsequent statements of our Lord that follow it, we're going to be introduced to the coming death of Christ and its implications. This then is a very important parable because it looks forward to this event about to happen.

It is also exceedingly important because it looks backward through all of Israel's history. It is a sweeping and comprehensive story told in very simple language. A stunning story, a story loaded with meaning, a bizarre and shocking story as you could tell. Now as we unfold this story, I'm going to have you look at four features. One, the illustration, the story itself. Two, the explanation.

And then next we'll look at the extension and the application. But to begin with, the illustration and the explanation. Verse 9, and He began to tell the people this parable. He is speaking to this massive crowd that has been surrounding Him since He entered the city a couple of days earlier. This great crowd is now in the temple area. He is speaking to them and mingled amidst them, of course, are the leaders.

The story is told to the people and in the hearing of the leaders, most importantly, it is a story about the leaders. Simple to understand, a man planted a vineyard, very common occurrence in Israel. In fact, from an agrarian viewpoint or an agricultural viewpoint, Israel was divided into two kinds of land, hillsides and flat land.

Flat land is where you planted the grain. Hillsides is where you planted the vineyards. They terraced the vineyards, removed the stones, created little walls that allowed them to terrace and then filled those terraced hillsides with vineyards.

Very, very common. In Matthew's account of the story, which may be the fuller account of the story, or it may be the same story with a little different detail Jesus told in another place during the days that He was teaching in the temple, Matthew shows us a little bit about the completeness of this effort by the man who planted the vineyard. He talks about putting a hedge around it, putting a wine press in it, building a tower, a tower so that someone could sit and observe so that it wouldn't be attacked or assaulted by animals or enemies. So it was a thorough job of planting a vineyard. Very, very familiar stuff to them, very common.

All the hillsides of Israel, and there are many, were covered with such vineyards. And rented it out to vine growers, commonly done as well. This would be an absentee landlord. This is an owner who is not there, who doesn't live there. He owns the land, but he's not present. These are tenant farmers.

I guess we could call them that. That's what we would call them in our country, or contract farmers who come, don't own any land, but have certain farming skills and rent the land from an absentee land owner with a view to producing a crop and paying the owner of the land a certain percentage contracted and agreed upon. They are contract workers then, given the benefit of working the land. They have the best of everything really. They have freedom to work the land the way they want. They can be as creative as they want.

They don't have somebody looking over their shoulder. This is a wonderful country. This is a great privilege as well as a great responsibility. They can work hard and they can produce the crop and they will pay the owner what they contracted to pay him, everything else they get to keep. So without having to purchase the land, they can get the best of it and they can work hard and do very well in making a living. The owner, it says, if you go back to verse 9, went on a journey for a long time...a long time. All journeys took a long time in those days and this would be a long, long time, an extended time away. In fact, such a long time away that he doesn't even come back between the time he contracts with these people to plant and the time of harvest.

And so it is a long time. Everybody would understand that kind of situation. There were people who owned land in Israel who didn't live in Israel, Jews who had moved to some other place. And so that's the common scenario. Then harvest season comes. Verse 10, at the harvest time, at the appropriate time, he sent a slave to the vine growers, a doulos.

He comes as an authorized representative of the land owner and he comes for an obvious purpose in order that they might give him some of the produce of the vineyard. This would have been agreed upon in a contract. They would have agreed to it. The owner would have agreed to it. This is just time for the owner to come and get his share of the crop so that he can have what is due to him.

His share is now due. Nothing unusual about this, very normal procedure. By the way, this kind of farming goes on today. It goes on today all over the world as it has for centuries, for millennia in the world, tenant farming, very, very common.

What is not common is the response of the tenant farmers. Back to verse 10, but the vine growers beat him...that is the slave who had come...and sent him away empty-handed. Now that is the shock in the story and many of our stories that the Lord tells familiar to us in the Bible have this moment of outrage, this moment of shock, this moment of shameful, unacceptable, if not criminal conduct.

The listeners would see this as ungrateful, wicked and criminal, illegal. Not to pay him was illegal. To beat the servant and send him back with nothing was outright criminal. The word beat is a strong word, can literally mean a full-body pummeling, real abuse, send him back with nothing. Verse 11, the land owner's response, he proceeded to send another slave and they beat him also and treated him shamefully.

The Greek verb from which we get the English word traumatize, and sent him away empty-handed. He proceeded to send a third and this one also they wounded and cast out. In Matthew's record, he has even more servants being sent and some of them killed and some of them stoned. These tenant farmers have conducted themselves in an absolutely outrageous fashion. They had been given privilege. They had been given opportunity to do very well. They had been given liberty and freedom. They had made pledges and promises and contracts. They manifest what is selfish, resentful, rebellious, criminal conduct even to the extent of murder.

They are vicious, disrespectful criminals. Amazingly, this owner in the story who has already demonstrated amazing patience, he would have had every right after they beat up the first slave and sent him back to show up, call in the appropriate authorities and bring justice and retribution. He didn't. He sent a second slave. That is merciful. That is being kind and patient. They did the same thing to the second slave. He sends a third one. They do the same to him.

This owner is extremely patient, giving them opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to do what is right, what they said they would do, what they agreed to. And so he asks the question in verse 13, and the owner of the vineyard said, What shall I do? That seems a silly question, doesn't it?

By now everybody would have expected vengeance, vengeance after number one servant, vengeance after certainly number two and number three. Why are you even asking this question? Why is there even such a soliloquy here? What is there to question?

What shall I do? That ought to be obvious. The people would have taken the side of the offended owner, they would have in their minds said there's only one thing to do, come and take vengeance, take reprisals. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. But the owner is very patient again and decides that he will try one more time. End of verse 13, I will send My beloved Son. Perhaps they will respect Him. In Matthew's account of the parable, Matthew says, Last of all I will send My Son. Finally last of all, I will send My only beloved Son. Perhaps they will respect Him.

That phrase is simply a way to say this would be what I should expect to happen. They would show Him respect and trepo, literally to be shamed into respect. After all the shameful things they've done up to this point, surely one could expect some kind of righteous civil treatment of My own beloved Son. Maybe they had a low view of people who were slaves. Maybe they saw slaves the way a lot of people in the secular and Gentile world saw slaves as animals. So the owner expresses a reasonable thought that they will show respect to a son, if not a slave.

But look what happens in verse 14. When the vine-growers saw Him, before He could say anything apparently, nothing is stated as coming from His lips at all, they saw Him, they knew who He was. They reasoned with one another, dielogizimai, they dialogued, they went into a discussion and this is what they came up with. This is the heir, let us kill Him that the inheritance may be ours. Thoughtful planning, full knowledge of who He is. The renters premeditate His murder so they can control and possess everything. They don't want Him encroaching. They don't want Him taking anything that they now believe is theirs.

And the way to get that is to kill Him. Somebody listening to the story might imagine that maybe they thought the father was dead, that's why the heir came because he hadn't said anything. Maybe they assumed when he showed up that the king...that the heir...that the owner, rather, had passed on the property to his son and all they would have to do then is kill the son and it would belong to them. According to the Talmud, if three years went by and no one laid claim to land, it reverted to those who were working the land. So if they got rid of the son, assuming that the son had come because the father may have been dead, it would belong to them. They wanted the inheritance to be theirs completely.

They didn't want the son exercising any control, having any authority, or exacting anything from them. They immediately did as they planned, verse 15, threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Shocking story, like so many of our Lord's parables, stunning response, shocking, designed to generate outrage, designed to make the audience feel outraged against those tenant farmers. This is unacceptable to law-abiding religious people. This is unacceptable to people who feel that they are good people, that they worship God, that they try to do what is right.

This is outrageous. This is pagan-like conduct. And so they fully identify sympathetically with the owner and they are in outrage against the tenant farmers. Verse 15, the end of the verse, what therefore will the owner of the vineyard do to them? Jesus poses the question that sucks them in. What will the owner of the vineyard do to them?

The owner is not dead, the owner is alive. What will he do? He asks his listeners to complete the complete the parable. You will notice in verse 16 that it says he will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others. And it appears as though Jesus answered the question, didn't give them an opportunity to answer. But if you look at Matthew's account, and as I tell you so often, I think that the full account of these stories is in the composite of the parables in the separate gospels.

Listen to what Matthew's account of the story adds, a very helpful detail, Matthew 21 41. They said to Him, they being the people who had heard the story, they said to Him when He asked the question, what therefore will the owner of the vineyard do to them? They said to Him, He will bring those wretches to a wretched end.

Of course, that's not hard to figure out. That's exactly what they ought to do. But it's important to note that the people affirm that. They said to Him, He will bring those wretches to a wretched end.

Secondly, they also said, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay Him the proceeds at the proper season. That's the people's conclusion. That's their conclusion.

Yes, two things. He will destroy them and He will give the land into the care of others. That is the only sensible answer. That is the only reasonable answer. That's exactly what the people said. And our Lord affirms that in verse 16, yes, He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others. That is exactly right.

Everybody knows that, obviously. If you have destroyed them, you have to give the vineyard to somebody else to care for. This is appropriate judgment and no one would argue with it. This is exactly what the people said.

He will destroy those wretches and give His land to someone else. That's what the people said. They were absolutely right. They are now inside the story. They are now inside the story. What is the explanation?

What does this story mean? That's the illustration. Listen to the explanation. The second half of verse 16, and when they heard it, they said, may it never be. Well this is strange.

What do you mean? The people when they heard it said, may it never be, may genoita in Greek, the strongest negative possible in the Greek language, no, no, no, no, can't be, can't happen, never, never, never. If they just said He will destroy those vine-growers and give the vineyard to someone else, why would they then say, no, no, no, no? Don't let it happen. That can't be.

I'll tell you why. Because they had come to understand the meaning. Please notice the sentence again at the end of verse 16. And when they heard it...heard? The Greek verb is akuo from which we get acoustic. It means to comprehend. It means to perceive by hearing. It means to understand. It means to grasp. It means to get it. For example, in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 there is a repeated phrase, let him who has ears to hear hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

That's repeated again and again and again. Let him who has ears to hear hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Not talking about hearing sounds, not talking about hearing words, talking about grasping at messages.

And that's the way akuo is used throughout the New Testament, hearing in the sense of understanding. They said, kill those vine-growers and replace those vine-growers and then they got it. Whether it was such an obvious story that the epiphany was momentary, or whether Jesus explained it to them, they got it. And as soon as they understood it, they said, no, no, no, no, no, no. Whoa, whoa, whoa, can't have that, can't have that. Can't do that. We can't...can't kill those people and...and we can't take away the vineyard from them.

Can't happen. They understood the meaning of the story. They got it and they panicked. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John's current study is showing you the bold words Jesus had for men who distorted the gospel. It's titled How to Talk to a Heretic. John, I know you've spent a lot of time in the Gospels, and when you had an opportunity to choose to preach something that you'd already preached before, your first reaction was to go back to the Gospel of John. And you said it's because the one thing you most love to preach about is Christ, that He's the most compelling person you've ever studied.

So here's a simple question, but I wanted to ask it. Why? Why does Jesus fascinate you so much? Well, because there's never been a person like Him. He is the God-man. He is truly God, truly man. He is the fulfillment of all Old Testament messianic prophecies. His wisdom is the wisdom of God. I think John 1.14 comes to mind, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. What a statement. Full of grace and truth. There's no one like Him. And one of the things that continues to amaze me—some people might look at the four Gospels and say, That's a lot of material.

Not really. Four Gospels is not a massive tome. But what you have in the four Gospels is you have four records of the life of Jesus and the things He said. No one could say more in a short sentence than He did, and it was always profoundly true and appropriate.

All of us who speak would love to be able to reduce everything to its purest expression, so we didn't have to use so many words. He does that. He says things like, Before Abraham was, I am.

Whoa! That is beyond profound. There's no person like Him. There's no person who lived the way He lived, thought the way He thought, and spoke the way He spoke. And even the people of Israel say, We never heard a man speak like this man. And part of it was because he reduced everything to the essential truth without wasting words.

So there's no comparison between Him and anyone else. To communicate the things that He communicated in the Holy Spirit-inspired four Gospels and cover everything you needed to know about life and godliness in those brief sort of, I think, summaries of conversations and cover all the ground. If a philosopher was trying to write a book and cover all the ground of life, it would be twenty-five volumes of machinations trying to get to the realities of things. Jesus just nailed everything with direct statements. That's why preaching expositions on the person of Christ is such a powerful thing.

Yes, it is. And friend, there is no more valuable way to spend your time than by studying the person and work of Christ. So I would encourage you to get John's book, One Perfect Life. It combines everything the Bible says about Christ into a continuous biblical narrative.

It's a chronological biography of Jesus Christ unlike any you've ever read. Order a copy today. One Perfect Life costs seventeen dollars in hardcover and shipping is free. To order your copy, call toll-free anytime, 855-GRACE, or go online to

Again, this book puts everything the Bible says about Jesus in chronological order, starting with Old Testament references to His life and everything in the New Testament. To order One Perfect Life, call 800-55-GRACE and our web address, And friend, thanks for remembering that the support of people like you is what keeps grace to you on the air. When you give, you help encourage people around the globe with hopeful messages about the future, with lessons on how to honor the Lord in daily life, and with the life-changing truth of the gospel. To partner with us, make a tax-deductible donation when you call us at 800-55-GRACE, or you can mail your gift to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412, or you can give at our website, Thank you for studying with us. And now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace to You television this Sunday, and then be back here on Monday when John continues his study, How to Talk to a Heretic, with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-20 12:08:50 / 2023-09-20 12:18:18 / 9

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