#10 ~ The Inheritance of the Kingdom
Opening question: Have you ever made a serious investment of time and resources that you hoped would pay off? How would you feel if you found out that you had wasted your time and resources?
Note: Some answered this who are parents and grandparents. Spending time raising your children sometimes doesn’t work out the way you think it will. Gardening was another investment that was mentioned. This was to set the stage for the investment that God had made in the nation of Israel and in mankind throughout the ages.
Note: Because of the nature of this study, several chapters in the gospels are overlooked. The study is on the Kingdom of Heaven, specifically the parables that Jesus told revealing the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven. So here is the bridge between last week and this week. But here on the blog, time moves differently.
A little background information. Since our last study, Jesus has entered Jerusalem on a donkey, He has been publicly teaching at the temple, and the Passover is drawing huge crowds to Jerusalem. There is a power struggle between Jesus and the religious leaders at Jerusalem. Jesus refuses to let any commerce happen in the temple, something that the chief priests had previously allowed. Who is Jesus to shut down what these leaders had allowed? Jesus teaches two parables about this struggle between Him and the religious leaders.
Matthew 21:28-32 ~ The Parable of the Two Sons. This parable is only found in Matthew. We have already seen the idea of working in a vineyard to mean working for the Kingdom of Heaven. “Go to work in my vineyard” could be interpreted to mean “Get busy about the work of the Kingdom”. One son says no but then repents and is eventually obedient. The other son says he will, but then never shows up. Who do these two sons represent in the present circumstances in which Jesus is teaching? It seems that “sinful” people were repenting while “good” people did not understand their need for repentance.
The present tense language of the Kingdom of Heaven. Note from Pastor Matt on the tense of proago. When are these sinners entering the Kingdom of Heaven?
KJV/ESV ~ go NKJV ~ enter HCSB/NIV ~ are entering NASB ~ will get into
“3rd person plural, present active indicative. a. referring to tax collectors and prostitutes, the plural here references them. b. Present active indicative, however, indicates that they are currently getting into the kingdom ahead of the people Jesus is speaking with.”
Note: I asked for our pastor’s input on the Greek in this passage. Here and in other passages, the way Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of Heaven shows that the Kingdom of Heaven was something that was present in His preaching and teaching. Not future, not delayed, but present, in the midst.
Matthew 21:33-39 ~ The Parable of the Landowner. See parallels in Mark 12:1-12 and Luke 20:9-19 and notes below on additional information. This parable begins the same way as the parable in Matthew 20:1. “There was a certain landowner.” However, in this one, the landowner gets the business started, and then departs into a far country. Notice that it is the landowner that did all the work and investing to try to see a return profit at some point.
What investments did the landowner make?
What parallels do we see with Psalm 80:8-11?
What parallels do we see with Isaiah 5:1-7?
Note: I included these passages to show that Jesus was drawing on this imagery of Israel as a vine or vineyard. This made for good comparative discussion.
Who does the Landowner represent in this parable?
Who do the wicked tenant farmers represent?
Who do the servants of the Landowner represent?
Who does the Son of the Landowner represent?
If we believe that the vineyard represents the nation of Israel and that the servants represent the prophets of Israel, then some aspect of this Kingdom of Heaven must have been established before John the Baptist and Jesus came. Notice Exodus 15:17-18. The reign (Hebrew word malak, to become king) or kingdom of God is connected with the exodus of Israel out of Egypt and planting them in the place of their inheritance. Notice also the use of the word Sanctuary. Cross reference Psalm 114:1-2. The dominion or rule (Hebrew word memshalah, traced all the way back to mashal meaning to reign) began with Israel coming out from Egypt. Notice also the use of the word Sanctuary. It seems that Jesus is using language that was purposefully representative of the nation of Israel based on earlier writings.
Note: Longtime readers of my blog should check out those references to Exodus 15 and Psalm 114.
Luke 13:6-9 ~ The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree. What is the owner of the tree looking for? In both parables, the owner is looking for fruit from his investment. What do you think this fruit represents?
Note: In the context of this entire lesson series, the fruit is the fruit of repentance: repent and believe the gospel.
Matthew 21:40-46 ~ The Reaction of the Landowner. For lack of a better term, it seems that there is a day of reckoning for those that have treated the servants spitefully and killed the son. What would this day be symbolic of?
Psalm 118:22 ~ The Stone which the Builders Rejected. What did the psalmist originally mean when he wrote these words? What did Jesus mean when He quoted these words?
Note: David was the stone that the builders rejected. After all those years of rejection, they finally enthroned him as king and God chose Jerusalem. This was typological of the One True Messiah, Jesus.
Matthew 21:43 ~ The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you (all). Note: This is only found in Matthew. What did Jesus mean by this? Who was the Kingdom of God being taken from? Who was it being given to?
Good old Matthew the Tax Collector. He had a few words for the nation of Israel. It is so fitting that Matthew included this quote from Jesus in his diatribe against the nation of Israel (also known as Matthew’s gospel).
Matthew 21:44 ~ The stone. Tripping over a stone may be hazardous as you could break a bone. However, that same stone (think big) falling on you would be much more devastating. What did Jesus mean by this phrase? Also see passages like Isaiah 8:14-15, 28:16, and I Peter 2:4-8, which quotes them all.
Mark 12:1-12 ~ Additional information from Mark’s rendition. Verse 2, “At the season” or “At vintage time.” Verse 6, “Having one son, his well-beloved.” Verse 9, Jesus answers His own question.
Luke 20:9-19 ~ Additional information from Luke’s rendition. Verse 9, “For a long time.” Verse 10, “At the season” or “At vintage time.” Verse 13, “My beloved son.” Verse 14, “They reasoned among themselves.” Verse 16, Jesus answers His own question and the response is “God forbid.”
In our understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven, there is a transition that is happening. The nation of Israel had first rights to the Kingdom of Heaven. This may explain why Jesus said in Matthew 8:12 that the sons of the kingdom would be thrown out because of their unbelief. In these two parables, the Kingdom of Heaven is being taken from the unrepentant nation of Israel and given to the repentant followers of Jesus Christ. The serious investment of God into the nation of Israel was not wasted. He took the inheritance and gave it to the repentant followers who continued the work of the kingdom. What we are doing in the church is something new that began with Jesus, but it is also a continuation of what began with the nation of Israel in some way. If we focus too much on the new aspect, we will discount the old testament and say that those scriptures no longer apply to us. If we focus too much on the continuity, we will hold to completely obeying every single aspect of the old testament laws including resting every Sabbath, which is Saturday. Note: At this point in our story, the Gentiles are still not included. This work is being done completely by Israelites. The word “church” means called out assembly, as in, those repentant Israelites who have been called out from the unbelieving nation of Israel to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Challenge: Have you repented and entered the Kingdom of Heaven? If so, that means you are in the vineyard to work. What kind of work are you doing for the Kingdom? What are the fruits that the Landowner is receiving from your work?
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman