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Pastor's Sunday School Blog

Sunday School Lesson

“The Wicked Tenants”

July 9, 2017

Matthew 21:33-46

Quick Facts:

Jesus often used parables, earthly illustrations, to teach spiritual truths. Parables are illustrations, word pictures, and stories familiar to the hearer’s context meant to reveal spiritual truths and scriptural principals.

The parable of the “Wicked Tenants” is in response to the question, “by what authority do you (Jesus) do these things?”(Mt. 23:23). The question was not a serious inquiry but an opportunity to accuse Jesus of wrong doing in order to condemn Him.

Pastor’s Notes:

“landowner” – Jehovah God/Creator

“vineyard” – The nation of Israel

“fence around it … dug a winepress … built a tower” – God’s protection and blessing

“tenant farmers” – Religious leaders of Israel (they weren’t owners, but caretakers responsible to the Owner).

“harvest fruit” – obedience and glory to God

“time” – accountability

“servants” – prophets

“son” – The Son of God/Jesus

“seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him” – the rejection, humiliation, and crucifixion of Christ.

Jesus used this parable to confront the religious leader’s disobedience to God, their failure to recognize Who He was, and to prophesy the soon coming event of His death and ultimate judgment toward those who rejected God.

While the context of the parable was immediate, it also has tremendous application to our now.

Some things to look for: God’s ownership, God’s grace, man’s accountability, God’s patience, God’s judgment …

The wicked tenants reject their responsibility as stewards (Matthew 21:33-35).

The owner of the vineyard has the rights, while the tenants have the responsibility …

Not to make too much of the fact that the owner “went away,” except to be reminded that God allows man the freedom to make his own choices … we are free to obey or free to disobey … God is not a taskmaster. Freedom, however, always has consequences.

The context of the parable is historical … God’s choice of Israel and Israel’s rejection of God … however, by application this parable should encourage the sinner to acknowledge and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and for believers to acknowledge God’s ownership by right of redemption (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).


While the time of the “prophet” has passed, God is still speaking through His Word utilizing the voices of His children … every believer should function as a prophet proclaiming God’s grace and judgment.

DISCUSS – How is the world like the “tenants” in the parable? How are believers sometimes like the “tenants?”

Bottom-line – The tenants refused to acknowledge God’s rights of ownership, denying their responsibilities to the Owner.

The wicked tenants reject God’s warning and God’s Son (Matthew 23:36-41).

God demonstrated patience by sending “again” His prophets to the rebellious leaders.

While God has every right to destroy the “tenants” He chooses to exercise patience by sending different prophets at different times, and eventually by sending His only begotten Son.

“The Lord …is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Also see John 1:10, 11 to understand Israel’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.

The tenant’s rejection and subsequent murder of the “son” is fulfilled by the religious leader’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah and His crucifixion.

QUESTION – How will God respond to those who reject Jesus as their Savior?

The wicked tenants are rejected by God for their wicked schemes (Matthew 23:42-46).

The cornerstone is the leveling stone, the stone by which the building is squared. If the cornerstone is not right the structure will not be square. Any professed relationship with God apart from Jesus Christ is a fraudulent faith and will end in destruction/damnation.

The religious leaders attempt at pleasing God through their religion and self-righteousness ultimately failed … it is not religion (Galatians 2:21) OR self-righteousness (Romans 3:10).

“and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his fruits at the harvest … the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people producing its fruit” is a reference to God’s shift from the nation of Israel to the church… from Jew to Gentile. God is not totally rejecting the Jew, but is focusing on the Church (which includes the Jew).

Confronted with the truth, the religious leaders had to choose … they chose to their own condemnation. Rather than humble themselves and embrace the truth, they denied the Savior.

Contrary to what they believed … they sought to silence Christ.

Theological Theme: God judgment comes to those who reject the Lord’s commands, His warnings and His Son.

Christological/Christ Connection: God sent His only begotten Son so that sinful man might be in a right relationship with God. Receive Him and be redeemed. Reject Him and be condemned.

Missional Application: God has all rights to our lives by reason of redemption … Our responsibility is to live an obedient life resulting in God’s glory.

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