Luke 13:1-9 NASB
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the
Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. (2) And Jesus said to them, "Do
you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? (3) "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all
likewise perish. (4) "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower
in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? (5) "I tell you, no,
but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (6) And He began
telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which
had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did
not find any. (7) "And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three
years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut
it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' (8)
"And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone,
sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; (9) and if it bears fruit
next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'"
Why Did God?
One of the unchanging assumptions that human beings make –
well, most human beings — is that the word "normal" really means my
circumstances, use to measure others. So if I look at you and see that you are,
for example, less wealthy than I am I can assume that you are defective in this
matter of wealth. That's because I'm normal. On the other hand, if you have
more money than I have then you are rich. This carries over into moral
judgments as well. If you're worse than I am, a greater sinner, then if you
suffer I clearly noted as being suffering because you did something wrong. You
deserve it. On the other hand if things are better for you (and bad for me)
then it's obvious that I am the one who is suffering nobly.
That's how most of us view the subject of suffering. If you
extend that viewpoint into the question of where you're going to spend
eternity, your answer is to find some folks who are obviously worse than you
are and say, "Those are the people going to hell." Since you are
better than those people it logically follows that you are going to heaven. We
shall see that this is not at all the case.
That's the issue that Christ is attacking here. Apparently
there were some Galilean rebels who got caught at it, and some workmen who had
a fatal work accident. The times being what they were, everyone assumed that
God punished them for their misdeeds. If you knew one of them was a really good
guy, you'd say he was some sort of secret sinner. But Christ replies that they
are all sinners. If they are sinners, they are in need of repentance and the
salvation that only Christ can bring.
Of course, the Christian of today has a couple of other
answers. While it doesn't apply to fatalities, if you are suffering from some
disease or other form of irritation it may be assumed that God is preparing you
for some particular task. You're not being punished, you're being prepared.
This goes a long way in modern times to explaining away the fact that we all
suffer and that we are all are sinners. It doesn't matter how good we are
compared to somebody else.
Note, please, that immediately after telling you this Christ
then comes forward with this parable. Its interpretation is relatively simple.
The fig tree has long been noted as a symbol of Israel, particularly a fig tree
planted in a vineyard (which would have the best soil). Most of us would
interpret it as being applicable only to an individual. We would see it and say
that means we are to produce the fruit of righteousness in our lives. This is
true. But not exhaustive.
What Christ is introducing to us is the concept of a
national sin. Our nation of rugged individualists tends to think this cannot
possibly exist. God, on the other hand, castigates Israel for their national
sin frequently in the Old Testament. He makes it clear that in some portion he
hold you accountable for the sins of your society. One of the holiest men to
ever walk the planet expressed his national repentance. The man was Daniel; you
will find his prayer in Daniel chapter 9.
Please note the delay. It is God's intention that the nation
should not suffer, but rather it should be redeemed and lifted up. Any nation
which claims to be a nation of godly people runs the risk of being ripped out
of the ground. I leave it to the reader to determine if that point has arrived
for the American Republic.
Luke 20:9-18 NASB
And He began to tell the people this parable: "A
man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey
for a long time. (10) "At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would
give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat
him and sent him away empty-handed. (11)
"And he proceeded to send another slave; and they
beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed.
(12) "And he
proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out.
(13) "The owner
of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps
they will respect him.' (14) "But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with
one another, saying, 'This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance
will be ours.' (15) "So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? (16) "He will come and
destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others."
When they heard it, they said, "May it never be!" (17) But Jesus looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone'? (18) "Everyone who
falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will
scatter him like dust."
The Parable Itself
It is worth noting that this parable occurs in the context of
the Pharisees challenging Christ's authority. It is quite clear that he is
referencing his own arrival when he talks about the son of the vineyard owner.
The servants would be the prophets of course. A glance at the history of Israel
throughout the Old Testament will tell you that time and again the Jews
rejected the prophets sent to them. That much is clear; his opponents certainly
understood it as such. But he introduces something new in this passage.
Old Testament Prophecy
If you examine the concept of a stone which becomes the
chief cornerstone, or is used to smite the Jews, you will find these
Daniel's smiting stone. In Daniel 2:34-35 we see the prophetic
picture of the stone cut out without hands smiting the Earth and growing to be
a huge mountain. Virtually every Christian commentator will tell you that stone
is Christ, and its growth represents the growth of the body of Christ
overcoming the world.
In Psalm 118:22-23 we find the prophecy that this stone will be
rejected, as Christ was by the Jews.
In Isaiah 28:16 we see that this will be a costly cornerstone,
referring to the sacrifice Christ made at the Cross.
If that's not clear enough, then read Zechariah 3:9. In that
passage it is prophesied that this stone will take away the sins of the nation in
The stumbling stone is detailed for us in Isaiah 8:13-15.
This point most Christians don't want to study. Jesus is
supposed to be a nice guy; what's this business with the stumbling stone? The
answer is rather straightforward. If you are one of those people we described
earlier who is sure of heaven because after all you're better than somebody,
the smiting stone hits you. If you in fact accept him, you will find you're
going to have to stumble over him and admit you don't know how to walk without
him. Jesus, to put it simply, is offensive to a lot of people. His followers
often share this characteristic.
We have already talked about the fact that it will take one
day to wipe away the sins of the nation: Good Friday. (Now you know why they
call it "good.") But for those who do not stumble over the stone we
find that it smites and scatters like dust. This was specifically fulfilled in
A.D. 70 when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and scattered the Jews to all parts of
the known world.
Jesus is the stone of stumbling; it's a hard fact. He does
not change with the times, nor does he adapt to your requirements. The issue
really is one of pride versus repentance. A lot of people out there will go
along with Mister Nice Guy and be proud of it. Jesus tells us that we need to
seek him in repentance and humility. To put it in these terms, we must stumble
over him — for he will not be moved.
Marriage of the King's Son
Matthew 22:1-14 NASB
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, (2)
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son. (3)
"And he sent out his slaves to call those who had
been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. (4) "Again he sent out
other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have
prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and
everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' (5) "But they paid no
attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,
(6) and the rest
seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. (7) "But the king was
enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their
city on fire. (8) "Then he *said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but
those who were invited were not worthy. (9)
'Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you
find there, invite to the wedding feast.' (10) "Those slaves went
out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good;
and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. (11) "But when the king
came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed
in wedding clothes, (12) and he *said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here
without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. (13) "Then the king
said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer
darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (14) "For many are
called, but few are chosen."
Life was rather different in those days, particularly as
regarding the measurement of time. For most people there were only three times
of the day that they could we determine accurately: sunrise, local noon and
sunset. It was therefore, in when you made an appointment that you would
specify the day but not the hour. It was normal for a feast like this to send
out the servants to get the guests.
Another custom of the time which might not be as familiar
today is the use of wedding clothes. Casual dress having taken hold, we do not
see much in the way of wedding clothing. Our weddings used to be a bit more
formal, and people were suits and dresses. In those days people had specific
clothes that they were to weddings – sort of like that sombrero you got on your
last trip to Mexico. You don't know when you get to wear it but it's really
fancy. These two customs are somewhat strange to us, but they were very useful
in the time.
The meaning of the parable is rather straightforward:
The guests were, of course, the Jews. God's promise to the Jews
is that they would have the Messiah. Obviously, they would get "first
crack" at the Messiah. This is why Christ never left the boundaries of ancient
Israel in his adult ministry.
The destruction of those gifts by the angry King is generally
held to have been accomplished in A.D. 70, at the sack of Jerusalem.
Sending out the guests to roust up people to come to the wedding
from the lanes and outdoors is nothing more than the evangelism of the church
to the entire Gentile world. How about that feast? It's difficult to pin this
down to a past event, but Revelation is clear that there will be the wedding
supper of the Lamb — and it will be glorious.
Wedding clothes take on new meaning here. As we see in Revelation
19:8, close stand for the righteous acts of the Saints. So the fellow that
thrown out without wedding clothes is someone who accepted Christianity, but
never did anything about it.
Will you please note with me one thing? That fellow the
Christ throughout the wedding feast — did you notice that he called him,
"Friend?" It's a warning to us. This nation, Christian since its
founding, now exhibits the characteristics of the world gone mad. What's
missing in our understanding is that Christ's judgment will fall upon a nation
as well as an individual. Let me take up two areas with you:
The first is the question of charity. I will not speak to the
amount of money given at this church, for we are one of the wealthiest congregations
of America. Giving money has never been much of a problem here. The difficulty
comes in the charity which is personal. Writing a check is easy; forgiving your
neighbor his offense is hard. Have you noticed that we have grown more and more
a part lately?
It is not clear to most evangelicals that this is so. But if you
will take a look through the Old Testament you will see that God commands of
his people that they act in justice. He calls himself a defender of the widow
and the fatherless, those who are so easily disadvantaged in a court of law.
What do we do with the down and out people we know? My father had a saying
about this: the character of a Christian gentleman is tested by how he deals
with the invisible people. Invisible? Yes, those whose jobs are to serve you
coffee, get you on the airplane, answer the phone when you have a complaint and
so on — these are the invisible people. How you treat them?
I told you this lesson is about prophecy. Please walk away
with these three lessons:
First, that his judgment will come upon the nation as well as the
Second, that he will return at a time when he is unexpected by
the world — and a lot of people are going to discover to their horror just who
they have been.
Third, that the issue is not whether or not you belong to the
right church with the right name on the door, but how you treated others in
We do not know the day and hour, but the signs of the time
are there for anyone to read. The Jews are in Jerusalem; they are in nation
once again. Play with that how you will, it cannot be meaningless.