The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers

Text: Matthew 21:33-46 Speaker: Festival: Tags: / / / Passages: Matthew 21:33-46

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Matthew 21:33-46

The Parable of the Tenants (Listen)

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. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants1 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.’ 38 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;2
  this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 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.”3

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.


[1] 21:34 Or bondservants; also verses 35, 36
[2] 21:42 Greek the head of the corner
[3] 21:44 Some manuscripts omit verse 44



Isaiah begins nearly the same the parable with the implication that this is a love song. And certainly this parable is a love song from the Lord to His people. True it contains also a dire warning if they will not listen, but the fact that Jesus cares enough to warn his people is part of the indication of His great love for them. Remember that this takes place during holy week, just days before his coming death. Yet his concern is not for His death but the death of His people.


The Lord provides everything His people need.

Both parables, the one in Isaiah and in the Gospels, begin the same way with a description of everything the Lord has done for his people.

He planted the vineyard on a fertile hill. He put a wall around it to keep out wild animals and those who might seek to steal the fruit. He dug a winepress. This is no easy thing. A winepress is a large basin and has to be solid stone. So really He chipped a winepress out of stone.  He also built a tower. It was common in that time to build towers and set a guard in them during the time of harvest to make sure that no one came to steal the fruit when it was ripe. All of this is to say the Lord did everything possible to make sure the vineyard thrived.

In the case of Israel we see this intensity of the Lord grace to give them all that they needed. He brought them out of Egypt. He provided for them in the wilderness. He drove the Canaanites out of