On Monday of Passion week, Jesus is confronted by the chief priests and elders of the people while He was teaching in the temple courts. After He deflects their question regarding whether He has authority to teach, He trounces them with three questions in parable form regarding whether they are citizens in the Kingdom community of God for they've failed “to pay attention to the initiatives taken by by God” (Nolland, 867).
1. Two sons (Mt 21:28-32):“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.” (Matthew 21:31).
Even the blind religious leaders recognized that eventual obedience is better than the fake obedience. Thus, Jesus rebukes them, relating the two sons back to their prior discourse over the baptism of John the Baptist. Jesus states that the “unsavory classes of people who openly break God's commands” are represented by the first son because they repented and obeyed God at John's message (Howell, 286). The religious leaders are represented by the second son because they refused John the Baptist's message despite their “claimed allegiance to the Law” (Elwell, 748). Now, because they'd refused to obey, those who did are saved regardless of their religious status.
2. Tenants (Mt 21:33-44):“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." (Matt 21:40-41).
Again the blind religious leaders recognized that unfaithful stewards will be forcefully replaced with ones who do prove faithful. Thus, Jesus rebukes them revealing that God's Kingdom will be taken from those who do not honor God and given to those who do. Since in the parable “the landowner is Yahweh, the vineyard Israel, and the tenants the people, especially their leaders” (Elwell, 748), who rejected the landowner's servants the prophets of the Old Testament and now finally the landowner's son, Jesus then ascribes messianic Psalm 118 to Himself (Howell, 287). Now, because they'd failed to fulfill their responsibility to God, He will replace them with others.
3. Wedding Banquet (Mt 22:1-14):“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.'” (Matt 22:8-9).
Realizing Jesus was controlling the conversation, the blind religious leaders didn't continue the dialogue, but Jesus didn't wait for their response and rebukes them with the claim that many are called to God's Kingdom, but few are found worthy of entrance. In this last parable of judgment “the King is God the Father and the wedding banquet represents the dawning of the kingdom of the his Son, Jesus Messiah, who is calling his new covenant people, his bride, into an eternal redemptive relationship with himself” (Howell, 288) to replace Israel since she repudiated His call. However, even as the invitation to the Kingdom becomes universal, Jesus clarifies with the man without wedding clothes that only those who reveal a changed life because of Christ will obtain a seat at the table (Elwell, 749/Howell, 289). Now, because they'd rejected God's call to be His chosen people, God expands His invitation to the Gentiles to find those worthy of His call.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.