Sermon: The Rejected and Murdered Son Matthew 21:33-46

Truth Taught- Jesus is the rejected and murdered Son.  His rejection and murder on the cross have sealed the fate of fruitless Judaism and created a new people who will produce the fruit God desires. 

Jesus has entered His City.  The rightful heir to the Davidic throne has come.  The King, the Messiah, the Son of David, the long awaited One is here and some believe but many do not.  

He came in prophetic fulfillment.  As He entered on the colt.  He then cleansed the Temple which, as we saw, was another Messiah prophecy.  He then declares that at His return, the Mount of Olives will be split, again showing a prophecy fulfilled. In response to these things, the leaders of Judaism ask Jesus by what authority do You do these things and who gave You this authority?

Jesus will not play their game.  In response, He asks them a question about John the Baptist.  Did his baptism come from God or from man?  In other words, was John’s ministry given to him by God, was he a real prophet or was he a self-appointed swindler?  In rabbinic tradition, if they would answer Jesus’ question then they would have the answer to theirs.  However, they refuse to answer.  Then Jesus tells them He will not answer their question either.

Here were the leaders of Israel.  These guys were supposed to speak for God.  They were given the charge to know the Scriptures, to give people guidance, to be the ones leading the prayers for the Kingdom of God to come in the Temple, the house of prayer and they were not doing these things.  Because of this, there is going to be a change.  Judaism is cursed along with the fig tree.  Jesus will appoint new leaders who will do what God desires.

Jesus told these who were entrusted with the Scriptures and to be the guardians of the Law of God that prostitutes and tax collectors will be entering the Kingdom of God before them.  It’s hard to imagine the impact these words had. 

Jesus again brought up John the Baptist when He told them that John came in righteousness preaching a message of repentance.  Repentance is a work of God in the heart whereby He causes the sinner to see the absolute ugliness of sin.  As the old Puritans taught, the sinfulness of sin.  Until a sinner realizes the wretchedness of their sin they will not repent, they love their sin too much to ever give it up.   

Matthew 21:32 (ESV) 

32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. 

Jesus told them; John came in righteousness.  When he came, you did not recognize righteousness when it was made visible in my friend John the Baptist.  He was a real prophet and came to you pleading for your repentance but you did not care.  

When the tax collectors and prostitutes, you know the most wicked sinners around, when they sat and listened to John their hearts were changed.  They knew they were sinners and God worked and they repented, Tax collectors gave up their tax booths, prostitutes gave up their perfumes and you saw all this.  You saw the work of God, the God you are supposed to represent and you did not believe.  You did not repent but they did and even when you saw them repent you still did not repent.

Jesus told them the first parable and we looked at that one last time.  The repentant son who first told his father that he would not go and work in the vineyard but later repented represented the sinners whom God granted repentance to.  Then the son that said he would go and work but never did, he was the picture of the Scribes, Elders, Chief Priests and Pharisees.

Let’s look at Jesus’ further words to these unrepentant and evil religious leaders in Jerusalem…

Pray…

Matthew 21:33–46 (ESV) 

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 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.’ 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; 

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.” 

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.  Israel, The Vineyard (21:33)

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. 

Throughout biblical literature Israel has been very often allegorized as a vineyard.  Here is another example. 

The Master of the House is God the Father and He has planted His vineyard.  He has done all that was needed for them to be a fruitful people.  God has rescued them from Egyptian slavery.  He has set them up as a nation.  He has given them His Law so that they could bring glory to Him and be a nation that would be the light to the other nations.  They had everything they needed.  

This is Israel.  From centuries before she did not change. 

Isaiah 5:1–7 (ESV) 

5 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. 

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem 

and men of Judah, 

judge between me and my vineyard. 

What more was there to do for my vineyard, 

that I have not done in it? 

When I looked for it to yield grapes, 

why did it yield wild grapes? 

And 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! 

God expected His vineyard to produce fruit but sadly it was consumed with sin and greed.  Here at the end of the Isaiah passage we are shown what fruit He was expecting…

Justice and Righteousness but there was none.

2.  Israel, Killed Her Prophets (21:34-36)

34 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.

We see here in the parable that the Master sent His servants to receive the fruit that the vineyard should have produced.  It was the time of the year that there should have been a harvest.

The Master sent many servants to receive the fruit that those working His vineyard should have produced.  Rather than producing fruit such as Justice and Righteousness there was nothing.  When God sent His prophets to call Israel to repentance like John the Baptist, it did no good…

Jeremiah 7:25–28 (ESV) 

25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. 26 Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. 

27 “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips. 

Some they even killed, again like John the Baptist…

2 Chronicles 24:20–22 (ESV) 

20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’ ” 21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. 22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the Lord see and avenge!” 

Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, God, the Master of the House sent His Son…  

3.  Israel, Killed God’s Son (21:37-39)

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.

The apex of the Parable comes when the Master/Landowner sends His Son to them.  However, Israel is so evil that when God sends His Son they do not respect Him but kill Him too. 

The Son is sent with the Father’s authority.  He comes in His Father’s name.  The Son should have had their submission and their obedience and yet they reject Him and murder Him as well.  This is the height of their rebellion…and yet God is doing something they did not know about.  Through their murder of His Son, He was saving a people who would give Him the fruit He desired. 

Their rejection of the prophets and God’s Son will seal their fate and at the same time open a glorious door for others to enter into God’s Kingdom.  Remember the Prostitutes and Tax Collectors and Gentiles will come running into God’s Kingdom, saved by grace through faith. 

4.  Jesus’ Question and Israel’s Answer (21:40-41)

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.” 

Jesus asks the leaders of Jerusalem to give their judgement.  When the Owner of the Vineyard comes what will He do with the wicked tenants?  Their response is self-judicating.

“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.”

They were exactly right on this one.  Not only are these evil tenants evicted but they are worthy of capital punishment for the murder of all the prophets and the Son who came to them.

God will indeed turn His Kingdom over to others, new tenants who will produce the fruit He desires.

5.  Israel’s Rejection and Murder of God’s Son Sealed Their Fate (21:42-46)

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’? 

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.” 

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. 

Jesus is speaking to the theological elite in Jerusalem…have you never read? 

Our Lord quotes from Psalm 118…

Psalm 118:22–24 (ESV) 

22  The stone that the builders rejected 

has become the cornerstone. 

23  This is the Lord’s doing; 

it is marvelous in our eyes. 

24  This is the day that the Lord has made; 

let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Jesus is warning them…they rejected the stone and were crushed by it.  They will reject the Son and be crushed by Him.

This is a play on words in the original language…

Banaya- Stone

Banayam- Son

This same pun is used when Jesus was speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees about God raising up sons from these stones.  They cannot claim to be God’s people simply because they can trace their lineage back to Abraham.  God can raise Banaym from these Banaya.

Here, the stone they rejected is the absolute most vital stone in the structure.  It serves as the cornerstone or literally, the Top Cornerstone.  It’s placed at the foundation and ties together the first two layers of the stone structure. 

This Cornerstone is Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:19–22 (ESV) 

19 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. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. 

1 Peter 2:4–10 (ESV) 

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: 

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, 

a cornerstone chosen and precious, 

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, 

“The stone that the builders rejected 

has become the cornerstone,” 

and 

“A stone of stumbling, 

and a rock of offense.” 

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

Israel’s fate was sealed when they rejected their Messiah and murdered Him by crucifixion.  Their undoing became our glory.  Through the death of Israel’s Messiah, we have been ushered into the Kingdom of God by faith. 

We are being built into a new Temple, a new structure made with living stones.  This new Temple will be the House of Prayer that God desired.  It will be the people called by His name praying for the Kingdom of God to come.  We, the new people of God must be producing the fruit of Justice and Righteousness.  We the Church do not replace Israel but is made up of all who believe both Jew and Gentile.

Judaism is rejected because Judaism has rejected her Savior, Messiah.

Acts 4:1–12 (ESV) 

4 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

Conclusion

Two things to consider…

Do not be like the builders this morning! Do not reject Jesus Christ. Do not stumble over this rejected stone. The very stone which the builders (Israel) rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing and may it be marvelous in your eyes. Is Jesus amazing to you today?  Is He your treasure?

Second, As the Church, we must produce the fruit God requires.  If we do not then we are not those who are called to do that very thing.  Are we growing in righteousness and love for Jesus?  Are we helping others grow in righteousness?  Are we fighting for Justice and taking the hands of those in need and coming along side of them to help?

Resources Used

http://d3pi8hptl0qhh4.cloudfront.net/media/audio/MohlerSS/20090816.mp3

The Gospel of Matthew by R T France

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