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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 16: Matthew 21:1-46, by Kevin M. Williams

Instead, Yeshua changes tactics and uses a highly regarded form of rabbinic teaching, of making students think and helping them reach the right conclusions. He told them a parable.

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father? They said, “The latter.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get 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-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him” (Matthew 21:28-32).

Yeshua did not make himself the focus of the parable, but kept the topic on John. If the priests and elders would not speak the truth directly, Yeshua would draw it out of them indirectly. Once again Yeshua is giving them an opportunity to repent, but they do not.

He continues with His strategy of leading by parable:

“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?”

They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons” (Matthew 21:33-41).

Using their own human sensibilities as well as their knowledge of biblical justice, he leads them to the right conclusion. They concluded that the landowner here (Yeshua’s metaphor for God), had every right to extract justice, and that the stewards of the vineyard (the temple priests) had grown evil. Their own words were their undoing.

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘the stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. And when they sought to seize Him, they feared the multitudes, because they held Him to be a prophet (Matthew 21:42-46).

The message of the fig tree comes back into play. The multitudes of disciples (the Greek implying at least 20,000 people) who proclaimed him the “Son of David” in the streets of Jerusalem were more worthy of the kingdom of God than the chief priests and elders—who would wither. These multitudes were producing fruits keeping with the kingdom and to them the kingdom would be given. In fact, Jerusalem remained the principal city of the messianic faith for at least a century, until the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 of the Common Era, when Jerusalem was razed and the entire region renamed “Palestine” by the Roman authority, in an attempt to distance the land from any religious connotation.

If there were at least 20,000 people following Yeshua (and possibly more), it is clear to see why the Pharisees and chief priests were fearful of seizing Him at that moment. They would have created a riot.


Next Issue: more of Yeshua’s leadership through parables will be examined as the days of his execution and resurrection draw near.


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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2005

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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