Stories That Sting

Stories That Sting

““What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 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. “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. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 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 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’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet. And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” ’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.””
Matthew 21:28–22:14

Two Sons

Jesus begins to tell stories that will sting the religious establishment. Jesus presents a parable about two sons, one of whom said he would work in the father's vineyard, and the other did not want to but ended up doing so. Jesus wants to know which one did the will of his father. Everyone knew that it was the first one. Jesus announces that people considered most vile made their way into the kingdom ahead of those who sought to work their way through the law. John the Baptist came in righteousness, and the religious establishment would not believe him. Jesus then made it clear that the two sons symbolized John and the religious leaders and asked why they did not respond appropriately.

A Vineyard And Violence

Jesus presents another critical parable to the religious authorities using the vineyard image. The vineyard's owner encloses it with a wall, sets up a winepress and watchtower, and then rents it out to farmers. When he is ready to harvest, he sends servants to collect the fruit, but the tenant farmers beat, kill, and stone them. He sends additional servants with the same result. Finally, he dispatches his son, hoping the farmers will show him respect, but instead, they seize and murder him. Jesus asks the religious leaders what the master of the vineyard will do to the tenants, prompting the correct answer that he will eradicate them and give the vineyard to better tenants. Jesus then interprets the parable, referring to Psalm 118:22-23, and informs the religious leaders that the kingdom will be taken from them and given to others. They understand the story is directed at them and want to capture Jesus, but they do not because of the size of the crowd.

A Wedding With Unruly Guests

Jesus continues—the King's son is preparing to get married and invites certain people to the wedding banquet. When his slaves go to call them to the event, they refuse to come. The King then orders his slaves to tell the guests that everything is ready. However, the guests are still unresponsive; some even mistreat and kill the slaves. The King is enraged and sends troops to burn down the city of the murderous guests. The King sends his slaves to fill the banquet with guests, gathering both the righteous and the wicked. The banquet is full when the King arrives, but he spots a man without wedding clothing. He questions the man but receives no response. In response, the King commands his servants to bind him and throw him out. These stories address the Jewish religious establishment, which despised the grace of the King.





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