In the parable of the wicked tenants in verses 9-16 , the word for owner in the “owner of the vineyard” is the same as “lord.” The three servants he sent to the tenants represent the prophets. The fruit of the vineyards they are seeking represents Israel’s obedience to God. Then, sending his “beloved son” reminds us of what God said (“This is my beloved Son…”) at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:17. The tenants killing the owner’s son alludes to His coming death. When Jesus says that the vineyard owner would come and destroy those tenants, it seems likely to be referring first to the destruction of Jerusalem that will come in A.D. 70. But in a larger sense, it speaks to the final judgment. Those hearing the parable say “Surely not!” as they perceive that the parable applies to the people of Israel. Would God take away the land and give it to other people? But He looks directly at them and says ““What then is this that is written:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone?”
This is from Psalm 118:22, referred to as well in Isaiah 28:16, and is quoted by Peter in Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7.
In verse 19, the scribes and chief priests were predictably angry, as they knew the parable was directed at them. So they sent people to try to trap him with sedition against the Roman government. Jesus’ answer in verse 25 was “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This can be read in different ways, given that He had asked whose image was on the denarius. One interpretation is that we are made in God’s image, and thus we must render ourselves to God’s service.
The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, so they try to test him in verses 27-33 with a scenario revolving around the teaching of Moses. But in verse 37 (and in Matthew 22:31-32) Jesus quotes Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush in Exodus 3:6, explaining that God is the God of the living.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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