Sabbath, October 19, 2013
“Christ hungers to receive from His vineyard the fruit of holiness and unselfishness. He looks for the principles of love and goodness. Not all the beauty of art can bear comparison with the beauty of temper and character to be revealed in those who are Christ’s representatives. It is the atmosphere of grace which surrounds the soul of the believer, the Holy Spirit working upon mind and heart, that makes him a savor of life unto life, and enables God to bless his work.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 298.
Entrusted with the vineyard
1. What parable did Jesus present to illustrate the husbandmen’s privileges and responsibilities?
Matthew 21:33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
“In the parable the householder represented God, the vineyard the Jewish nation, and the hedge the divine law which was their protection. The tower was a symbol of the temple. The Lord of the vineyard had done everything needful for its prosperity. ‘What could have been done more to my vineyard,’ he says, ‘that I have not done in it?’ Isaiah 5:4. Thus was represented God’s unwearied care for Israel.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 596.
Expected to bear fruit
2. What was normally expected from a vineyard after a period of time and care? What did the husbandmen do at the time of the grape harvest?
Matthew 21:34, 35 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Thought question: Whom were the Lord’s agents supposed to honor and represent?
“And as the husbandmen were to return to the Lord a due proportion of the fruits of the vineyard, so God’s people were to honor Him by a life corresponding to their sacred privileges.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 596.
“Upon this people God had bestowed great privileges, blessing them richly from His abundant goodness. He looked for them to honor Him by yielding fruit. They were to reveal the principles of His kingdom. In the midst of a fallen, wicked world they were to represent the character of God.
“As the Lord’s vineyard they were to produce fruit altogether different from that of the heathen nations…. It was the privilege of the Jewish nation to represent the character of God as it had been revealed to Moses. This was the fruit that God desired from His people. In the purity of their characters, in the holiness of their lives, in their mercy and loving-kindness and compassion, they were to show that ‘the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.’ Psalm. 19:7.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 285.
3. Did the caretakers deliver the owner’s share later when more servants were sent to receive it?
Matthew 21:36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
“But as the husbandmen had killed the servants whom the master sent to them for fruit, so the Jews had put to death the prophets whom God sent to call them to repentance. Messenger after messenger had been slain. Thus far the application of the parable could not be questioned, and in what followed it was not less evident.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 596.
“The husbandmen who had been placed in charge of the Lord’s vineyard were untrue to their trust. The priests and teachers were not faithful instructors of the people. They did not keep before them the goodness and mercy of God and His claim to their love and service. These husbandmen sought their own glory. They desired to appropriate the fruits of the vineyard. It was their study to attract attention and homage to themselves.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 292.
The usurpers’ treatment of the Son
4. What happened when the divine Owner of the vineyard sent His most noble representative, His Son?
Matthew 21:37-39 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
“As a last resource, God sent His Son, saying, ‘They will reverence My Son.’ But their resistance had made them vindictive….
“The Jewish rulers did not love God; therefore they cut themselves away from Him, and rejected all His overtures for a just settlement. Christ, the Beloved of God, came to assert the claims of the Owner of the vineyard; but the husbandmen treated Him with Marked contempt, saying, We will not have this man to rule over us…. They hated the high standard of righteousness which Christ continually presented…. When the final test came, the test which meant obedience unto eternal life or disobedience unto eternal death, they rejected the Holy One of Israel.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 293, 294.
“In the beloved son whom the Lord of the vineyard finally sent to his disobedient servants, and whom they seized and slew, the priests and rulers saw a distinct picture of Jesus and His impending fate. Already they were planning to slay Him whom the Father had sent to them as a last appeal. In the retribution inflicted upon the ungrateful husbandmen was portrayed the doom of those who should put Christ to death.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 596, 597.
5. Having reached this very critical point, what did the husbandmen deserve?
Matthew 21:40, 41 When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
“In as king the question, ‘When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?’ Christ designed that the Pharisees should answer as they did. He designed that they should condemn themselves. His warnings, failing to arouse them to repentance, would seal their doom, and He wished them to see that they had brought ruin on themselves. He designed to show them the justice of God in the withdrawal of their national privileges, which had already begun, and which would end, not only in the destruction of their temple and their city, but in the dispersion of the nation.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 597.
6. What else did the Lord say, referring directly to His impenitent hearers and the people as a nation? What is written about the unfaithful servant?
Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Matthew 24:48-51 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Christ would have averted the doom of the Jewish nation if the people had received Him. But envy and jealousy made them implacable. They determined that they would not receive Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. They rejected the Light of the world, and thenceforth their lives were surrounded with darkness as the darkness of midnight….
“As a people the Jews had failed of fulfilling God’s purpose, and the vineyard was taken from them. The privileges they had abused, the work they had slighted, was entrusted to others.
“The parable of the vineyard applies not alone to the Jewish nation. It has a lesson for us. The church in this generation has been endowed by God with great privileges and blessings, and He expects corresponding returns.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 295, 296.
7. Upon what holy foundation do all good and faithful servants build? With what wonderful words will they be welcomed into the kingdom of their Lord?
Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
1 Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Matthew 24:45, 46 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
“In quoting the prophecy of the rejected stone, Christ referred to an actual occurrence in the history of Israel. The incident was connected with the building of the first temple. While it had a special application at the time of Christ’s first advent, and should have appealed with special force to the Jews, it has also a lesson for us….
“In infinite wisdom, God chose the foundation stone, and laid it Himself. He called it ‘a sure foundation.’ The entire world may lay upon it their burdens and griefs; it can endure them all. With perfect safety they may build upon it. Christ is a ‘tried stone.’ Those who trust in Him, He never disappoints. He has borne every test. He has endured the pressure of Adam’s guilt, and the guilt of his posterity, and has come off more than conqueror of the powers of evil. He has borne the burdens cast upon Him by every repenting sinner. In Christ the guilty heart has found relief. He is the sure foundation. All who make Him their dependence rest in perfect security.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 597-599.
“The church is very precious in God’s sight. He values it, not for its external advantages, but for the sincere piety which distinguishes it from the world. He estimates it according to the growth of the members in the knowledge of Christ, according to their progress in spiritual experience.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 298.