Oct 10, 2021 | Lee Becknell

Violent Tenets and an unexpected vacant position.

    Text: Matthew 22:33-46

    Series: “The secrets of the kingdom of God.”

    A little boy came home with a $10 bill he claimed to have found. "Are you sure it was lost?” asked his mother. “Yes, I’m sure,” said the little boy. “I saw a man looking for it.”  Pharisees lost their place in the kingdom.

    Title: “Violent Tenets and an unexpected vacant position.”

    Theme: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you,” Jesus says to the Pharisees. They were given the vineyard and failed to produce and share the fruits of the kingdom. Jesus is just saying the truth. They have excluded themselves. In the same way, the kingdom of God will be given to those who are already producing kingdom fruits. This is not a reward but a recognition of what already is. Where the fruit is, there also is the kingdom.”

    * This morning, I would like to share with you the following lessons.

    1. The Landowner is God.

    Matthew 21:33, “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country.

    * The English Standard version translate the beginning of our text ‘a master of a house…’; the NIV says: “There was a landowner…”

    * This parable is obviously an allegory. Each character in this story represented someone real. The immediate meaning of the parable is simple: (1) The Landowner refers to God. (2) The vineyard represents the nation of Israel. (3) The wicked tenants represent the Jewish religious leaders, the priests and people. (4) The servants sent by the owner represents the Old Testament Prophets. God sent dozens of prophets to Israel to warn them of their sin, but the Jews mistreated the prophets and killed many of them. (5) The owner’s son represents Jesus Christ. (6) The new tenants to whom the owner gave the vineyard represents the rest of us, the Church.

    * All Jews would be familiar with Isaiah 5:1-2, 5-7, “Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.  5And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!”

    Lesson: I don’t own anything; I just manage some of God’s property

    1. God is very patient.

    Matthew 21:34-36, “When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’”

    * Beloved, I want you to notice that just because God is not present in the vineyard does not mean He doesn’t know what is going on.  He knows the harvest has come in so he sends servants for his share.

    * The tenants didn’t own the vineyard; the owner placed them there expecting to receive some of the grapes harvested. He didn’t demand all of the grapes, just a portion of them at harvest time. But the tenants rejected the owner’s request and acted as if they owned the vineyard.

    * The text is somewhat confusing about the sequence.  Did he send three servants at first or are these accounts of three separate attempts? Then he sends more and eventually he will send his only son.

    * No matter which way you read it you can’t deny the patience God is showing.

    1. God’s love is very easy to see.

    Matthew 21:7, “Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

    * In the parable, after the owner’s servants had been rejected and abused, he takes an astonishing step, he sent his son. In Luke’s version of this parable Jesus called him “the beloved son.” In Mark’s version, he is called “his only Son. He hoped the tenants would respect His son, and instead they killed him.

    * This parable not only highlights the love of God; it also reveals the utter wickedness of the human heart. The tenants of vineyard didn’t kill the owner’s son in the spontaneous heat of emotion; they made a calculated decision. They thought by killing the son, they could claim ownership of the vineyard.

    Romans 8:8-10, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

    Lesson: God sent His Son to convince me to respond to His offer

    * That’s what so amazing about God’s love. I am a sinner by nature and by choice, but God still loves me, in spite of my sin.

    * There’s a great little chorus called “It was Before” that says, “It wasn’t after I was worthy that He saved me; We never have to seek His grace as a reward; it wasn’t after I obeyed Him, that He loved me; it wasn’t after I had changed; It was before.”

    * In the early 1960s, the publishers of Time Magazine were concerned about their declining circulation, so they designed a campaign to send out thousands of letters making an emotional appeal to potential subscribers. In the past, such mailings had been done manually, at a great cost in human resources. IBM was developing something called a computer, so they made a proposal to install a fully automated system that would write the letters, seal the envelopes, address them according to a selected database, stamp them and send them into the postal system without the letters ever being touched by a human hand. However, as is still the case with computers, there was a glitch, and as a result a poor rancher in Wyoming received 12,634 letters appealing to him to subscribe to Time Magazine. The surprised rancher, who didn’t ordinarily get much mail, opened the mail-bags and started reading the letters. After reading a few dozens, he sent in a $6 check for a subscription with a note that said, “I give up!”

    * That’s the kind of persuasion that’s hard to resist! God’s love for you is so powerful that it is hard to resist it!

    1. GOD” response is always just.

    Matthew 21:38-42, “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

    * After telling the story, Jesus asked the Jewish mafia what the owner should do to those wicked tenants who killed His son. They puffed out their chests and said with self-righteousness indignation, “He shall bring those wretches to a wretched end.” With that answer they were pronouncing their own judgment. Within forty years that beautiful Jewish Temple and the magnificent city of Jerusalem would be smoldering in ashes at the hands of the Roman army. I call that a wretched end.

    Lesson: If I reject God’s Son/Stone I will fall under His judgment

    * As Jesus finished this parable He asked the religious leaders, “Have you never read, ‘the stone which the builders rejected shall become the capstone: the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes?’”

    * Jesus was quoting from Psalm 118:22. Some translations say “cornerstone,” and in Ephesians 2:20 Jesus is called the chief cornerstone. But a cornerstone is not the same as a capstone. A cornerstone is used for a foundation. It’s the first stone laid and it determines the alignment of all the other stones, but a capstone is the last stone laid. We often call it a keystone.

    1. God is looking for fruit, so today the garden has new Tenants.

    Matthew 21:43-45, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.”

    * The good news, is that God remains faithful to His vineyard. He continues to send faithful workers that build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.

    Ephesians 3:6, “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

    Ephesians 2:19-21, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

    * The Lord is looking for the harvest!

    Back when the Old West was being settled, pioneers flocked across the country to California and Oregon. In one particular spot on the Eastern slopes of the Rockies there was a large, dirt covered rock protruding in the middle of the trail. Wagon wheels were broken on it and men tripped over it. Finally, someone dug up the odd stone and rolled it off trail into a nearby stream. The stream was too wide to jump over, but people used the stone as a step to cross the cold creek. It was used for years, until finally one settler built his cabin near the stream. He moved the odd stone out of the stream and placed it in his cabin to serve as a doorstop. As years passed, the old settler’s grandson went East to study geology. On a visit to his grandfather’s cabin, the grandson happened to examine the old lump of stone and discovered within that lump of dirt and rock was the largest pure gold nugget ever discovered on the Eastern slope of the Rockies. It had been there for three generations, and people never recognized its value. To some it was a stumbling stone to be removed. To others it was a stepping-stone, and to others it was just a heavy rock. But only the grandson saw it for what it really was–a lump of pure gold.

    * Jesus is the precious rock God has given us to be both the cornerstone and the capstone of our lives. Will you come to the rock today? Will you build your life upon Him? The choice is yours.

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    Series Information

    Text: Mark 4:1-20

    Series: “The secrets of the kingdom of God.”

    Pastor Tim Bonner: Title: "The Persistent Friend"

    Title: “God Isn’t Fair—And I’m Grateful!”

    Pastor Lee Becknell:

    It reminds me of the old story about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Sometime in the middle of the night, Holmes wakes Watson. “Watson, look up at the stars and tell me what you deduce.” Watson says, “I see millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it's quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.” Holmes replies, “Watson, you idiot, somebody stole our tent!”

    Title: “Uncovering the secrets of the kingdom of God.”

    Theme: “Beloved, I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of hearing about this administration and all their failed policies. I need to focus on something uplifting. I need to be encouraged and filled with hope not despair.  So we are going to look at God’s kingdom and hopefully dispel the fear and anxiety we are feeling.”

    * 60 times in the gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke; Jesus either talks about the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. For Jesus, the kingdom occupies center stage.