Luke 20:9

I. THE LORD'S VINEYARD. A vineyard is often used in Scripture as an object of comparison. The heart is probably represented under this pleasing and beautiful image in the Song of Solomon, where it is written, "My mot

A certain man planted a vineyard.
1. Let us be thankful that God has planted His vineyard among us. We are situated, not in any of the deserts, or wastes, or commons, of the world, but in the vineyard, in "a garden inclosed," in the very garden of the Lord.

2. Let us inquire whether we be rendering to the Lord of the vineyard the fruit which He expects in its season.

3. Beware of resembling these wicked husbandmen in their conduct, lest you also resemble them in their doom. What reception, then, are you giving to God's ministers, and especially to God's beloved Son?

4. In the last place, see that you give to the Lord Jesus that place in your spiritual building which is His due. Let Him be both at its foundation and at its top. Let Him be both "the author and the finisher of your faith."

(J. Foote, M. A.)

Like the drops of a lustre, which reflect a rainbow of colours when the sun is glittering upon them, and each one, when turned in different ways, from its prismatic form shows all the varieties of colour, so the mercy of God is one and yet many, the same yet ever changing, a combination of all the beauties of love blended harmoniously together. You have only to look at mercy in that light, and that light, and that light, to see how rich, how manifold it is.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Years ago in Mentone they estimated the value of land by the number of olive-trees upon it. How many bearers of the precious oil were yielding their produce? That was the question which settled the value of the plot. Is not this the true way of estimating the importance of a Christian Church? Mere size is no criterion; wealth is even a more deceiving measure, and rank and education are no better. How many are bearing fruit unto the Lord in holy living, in devout intercession, in earnest efforts for soul winning, and in other methods by which fruit is brought forth unto the Lord?

(Sword and Trowel.)

Nothing so cold as lead, yet nothing more scalding if molten; nothing more blunt than iron, and yet nothing so keen if sharpened; the air is soft and tender, yet out of it are engendered thunderings and lightnings; the sea is calm and smooth, but if tossed with tempests it is rough beyond measure. Thus it is that mercy abused turns to fury; God, as He is a God of mercies, so He is a God of judgment; and it is a fearful thing to fall into His punishing hands. He is loath to strike, but when He strikes, He strikes home. If His wrath be kindled, yea, but a little, woe be to all those on whom it lights; how much more when He is sore displeased with a people or person!

(John Trapp.)

Turning to the parable, notice —

I. THE OWNER'S CLAIM. His right and authority are complete. God presses His right to our love and service. Blessings are privileges, and privileges are obligations.

II. THE OWNER'S LOVING PATIENCE. There never was an earthly employer who showed such persistent kindness towards such persistent rebellion. The account of servants sent again and again, in spite of insults and death, is a faint picture of His forbearance towards Israel. Mercies, deliverances, revelations, pleadings, gather, a shining host, around all their history, as the angelic camp was close to Jacob on his journey. But all along the history stand the dark and bloodstained images of mercies despised and prophets slain. The tenderness of God in the old dispensation is wonderful; but in Christ it appears in a pathos of yearning.


IV. THE JUDGMENT. It was just, necessary, complete, remediless.


(Charles M. Southgate.)

I. GOD'S INTEREST IN HIS VINEYARD. The great truths of the Old Testament are from the prophets rather than from the priests. The grand progress of truth has depended upon these fearless men. The age without its prophet has been stagnated. The priesthood is conservative; prophecy, progressive. The true prophet is always great; truth makes men great. Only by a clear understanding of the accumulating prophecies of the Old Testament can we appreciate the Divine care. In this lesson as to the care of God for His vineyard, Christ has marked the distinction between the functions of the prophets and Himself. They had spoken as servants; He as the Son. In such a comparison is seen the transcendent revelation of God in Christ. He was the heir. The interests of the Father were identical with His own. It was in such a comparison that Christ declared the infinite grace of God in the incarnation and its purpose.

II. THE IRREVERENCE OF MEN. The whole attitude of God toward His Church is that of an infinite condescension and pity.

1. The attitude of these men toward the truth. The greatest conflicts have been between the truth of God and the personal desires of men.

2. This antagonism is manifested in the treatment of those who are righteous. In one sense he who accepts a truth becomes its personation, and as a consequence must bear all the malignity of those who hate that same truth. Witness the treatment of the prophets in evidence. Because Micaiah uttered that which was displeasing to the government of Israel he was scourged and imprisoned. Because the prophet Jeremiah gave an unwelcome prophecy to his king, although it was the word of the Lord, he was thrown into a dungeon for his courage. No better fate awaited the prophet Isaiah than to be sawn asunder by order of the ruler of God's chosen people. It was the high priest who obtained a decree for the expulsion of Amos from Jerusalem.

3. This antagonism to the prophets of the truth is only a lesser expression of a burning hatred toward God. The spirit of hatred to the prophets would result in the killing of the Son of God. Whether the truth or man or God stands in the way of this lust for power, the result is the same.

III. THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE. Repeatedly this truth is brought out in the life of Christ. "They sought to lay hold on Him, but feared the people." In these few words we recognize the corrective of the terrible accusation against human nature. If such a history is the expression of what is universal, then we must discern the fact that the truth is more safe in the hands of the many than of the few.

IV. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE OWNER OF THE VINEYARD. In the parallel account of this parable in Matthew, we read the question of Christ: "When the lord, therefore, of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?" In all history this same truth has been often witnessed. The rejecters of God are self-rejected from Him. The power that is not used for God is taken from us and given to those who will use it. There are two practical suggestions very intimately connected with this theme that we briefly notice. First: The greatest hindrance to Christ's kingdom may come from those who are the highest in the administration of its affairs. Second: The stupidity of wickedness. These very men who robbed God were robbing themselves. By planning to possess the vineyard they lost it. By attempting to keep the owner away they cast themselves out. God controls His own kingdom and Church. "The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner: this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."

(D. O. Mears.)

I. THE MATERIALS OF WHICH THE PARABLE IS COMPOSED are objects which were familiar in Palestine, or common in warm countries; a vineyard, a proprietor, and tenants.

II. Let us next attend to THE OBJECTS WHICH OUR SAVIOUR HAD IN VIEW IN DELIVERING THIS PARABLE; or, what is the same thing, inquire what are the important truths contained in it. The objects of our Saviour in this parable seem to be

1. To point out the singular advantages bestowed on the Jews as a nation.

2. Their conduct.

3. Their punishment.

4. The transference of their advantages to othersInferences:

1. From this passage we may learn that we, as Christians, possess a portion of that kingdom which the Lord Jesus came to establish. For the Christians came in the place of the Jews. This kingdom consists in privileges, in blessings, in superior knowledge, and superior means of improvement. Of those privileges we have much cause to be grateful, but none whatever to be proud. For they were not given because we were better than other nations: but they were bestowed solely that we might cultivate and improve them, and become the blessed instruments of conveying them to others.

2. That if we cease to bring forth the fruit of holiness, the kingdom of God will also be taken from us. God has given us much, and therefore of us much will be required.

(J. Thomson, D. D.)

1. The combination of men of opposite sentiments, in a particular case, affords no proof that truth and justice are connected with their temporary union.

2. In the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees on this occasion we see the disgraceful artifices which malice leads men to employ.

3. From this passage we may observe the perfect knowledge which Jesus had of the characters, principles, and intentions of His enemies.

4. The wisdom of Jesus was also conspicuous on this occasion. Had He been a mere man, we should have said He was distinguished by presence of mind. Now His wisdom is strongly displayed here. He might have refused to answer the question of the Pharisees and Herodians, as the Pharisees had done to Him. Or He might have given some dark enigmatical reply which they could not have perverted. But, instead of doing so, He gave a plain decided answer, without fear or evasion.

5. The fearless regard to truth which the Lord Jesus displayed on this occasion deserves to be carefully noticed. He did not mean to decline answering the question, Whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. On the contrary, He instantly declared that it was lawful; and not only lawful, but obligatory, as they themselves had unwillingly confessed. For the allusion to the denarius struck them forcibly; and they went away admiring the person whom they had come to expose and overwhelm.

6. Lastly, we may observe the disposition which our Saviour always showed to direct the attention of His hearers to the duty which they owed to God. If, then, we are to render to God the things that are God's, we must render everything to God; for everything we have belongs to Him — our capacities, our opportunities, our advantages, our blessings.

(J. Thomson, D. D.)

It will grind him to powder
"It is said that a hundred thousand birds fly against the lights of the lighthouses along the Atlantic coast of the United States, and are killed annually." So says a slip cut from this morning's newspaper. We need not be afraid in these excited times that captious cavillers will put out our hope. The dark wild birds of the ocean keep coming forth from the mysterious caverns; they seem to hate the glitter of the lenses. They continue to dash themselves upon the thick panes of glass in the windows. But they usually end by beating their wings to pieces on the unyielding crystal till they fall dead in the surf rolling below.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Some years ago, a man and his wife were found living in a wretched broken-down house in a low part of London; and although the husband was down with illness, his only bed was a little straw, with a coarse dirty wrapper for a covering, and a brick for a pillow. An old chair and a saucepan appeared to be the only other furniture on the premises, while the wife in attendance was subject to fits, which made her for the time more like a wild animal than a woman. Though reduced to so wretched a condition, this man was really gifted and educated; and in days of health and strength he had worked with his pen for an infidel publisher. What, then, was the cause of his downfall? It so happened that the sufferer answered this question himself; for, casting his dull, leaden-looking eyes around the room after a visitor had entered, he remarked, "This is the wreck of infidelity!"

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