Today Jesus gives three parables against the hypocritical religious leaders:
- The two sons – One son eventually responds to the father’s request for him to work in his vineyard; this son represents the tax collectors and harlots. The other son says he will work the vineyard but doesn’t; this son represents the religious leaders. Jesus rebukes the leaders for failing to respond to John the Baptist’s ministry – “Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.’”
- The evil farmers – A vineyard owner sends his servants to check on his vineyard that was leased to evil vinedressers. The evil vinedressers beat, stone, and even kill some of the servants. The owner eventually sends his only beloved son and they kill him as well. Just as the people of Israel have beaten, stoned, and killed the Lord’s prophets throughout this story, they are about to kill God’s only beloved Son, Jesus. Therefore, the Lord will take the kingdom of God from them because of their rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior – ”Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” The church will be the new recipient of God’s kingdom made up of Gentiles and Jews across many nations.
- The wedding feast – Jesus illustrates the consequences of ignoring the invitation to the kingdom of God. When the invited guests chose to go about their own business instead of coming when called by the king, the king sends his servants out to the highways to invite as many people as they can. ”And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
We are only saved by true faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord knows the hearts of all and He knows who truly belongs to Him. “In short, many hear, few believe: many are members of the visible, but few of the invisible church” (Benson commentary).
The religious leaders are offended by Jesus’ stories so they continue to try “to catch Him in His words.” They ask Him if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.”
Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, ask Jesus about marriage in heaven. Jesus explains there is no marriage in heaven for we will be like angels. ”But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’ Then some of the scribes answered and said, ‘Teacher, You have spoken well.’ But after that they dared not question Him anymore.”
Jesus is saying that the Sadducees are wrong in their belief that there is no resurrection of the dead, as Jesus will soon prove; so keep reading.
(Matthew 21:28-32, Mark 12:1-12, Matthew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-19, Matthew 22:1-14, Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 20:20-26, Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27-40)