Another parable. There was a land owner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine pressing it, and built a watch tower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place.
When the harvest time approached, He sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants. They beat 1, killed another, and stoned the third. Then he sent other servants to them more than the first time and the tenants treated them in the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them.
They will respect my son, he said. But when the tenant saw the son, they said to each other, this is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance. So 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 tenants?
He will bring those wretches to a wretched end. They replied, and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time. Jesus said to them, have you never read in the scriptures the stone the builders rejected has has become the cornerstone? And lord has and the sorry, the lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of god will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces. Anyone on whom it falls will be crushed. When the chief priests and the pharisees heard Jesus's parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. Good evening.
Hopefully you can hear me. As I'm just sorting this out, my name's Richard. I'm 1 of the members here. I am gonna time this because I tried to time it this morning with my kids, and they kept interrupting. So I got to an hour and 45 minutes.
I'm hoping that's just because I got interrupted a lot. And, I'm actually just curious as to how long it actually is. And anyone who knows that I, I I when I come up and preach, I love doing a a story about the police, and this is absolutely no different. So before I get into that, let me pray. Lord, thank you so much for your word.
Thank you for, giving it to us. I pray that you use me lord as a conduit to tell true help me to speak slowly and with confidence, lord, and not to be my words, but your own. So something that has really taken off over the past few years is police dramas and police on TV. You've got the Brick cops, which is more of like the real life drama. You've got reality TV, like, making a murderer, Tiger King, cereal, the podcast, you've got drama, like happy value or the bodyguard.
And in all these TV series, we tend to see 1 thing in them. And it's my favorite thing, which is the police interview. Now the whole purpose of the police interview is to gather evidence so that, when it goes to court, there's more than enough for you to say whether this person is guilty or not. And they all start with the police caution. Now I tested my wife on the drive home to see whether she knew the police caution.
Safe to say I don't think she is an adequate police officer, but, it is you do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense. If you do not mention when questioned something which you later land in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Now there's a reason you say this, which is most people realize that when you say something, it's going to be used in court if it goes to court. But the point is it will also if you don't say something, they're gonna ask you later on why you come up with another reason.
So if you don't see anything, it may harm you to if you come up with something later on. It's a catch all. Now, some of my favorite interviews were obviously in the police. And my my very favorite 1 was my first ever arrest. The guy was a pretty big, broad, shouldered, No.
Big chinned hairy face. He exercised his right for the entire interview to remain silent. So when I questioned him about why he had a hundred pounds worth of boot, female hair removal products, including veat body removal, and other electronic devices removing hair for women. He he unsurprisingly remained silent the entire time. I've had other interviews where people would just tell me straight away exactly what they've done.
You know, wrong person, wrong place, just done something stupid that they've instantly regretted. And as I said, the whole purpose of the interview is to establish the facts. Their traditional who, what, where, when, why, and so on. Try to establish a motive or anything that might give a clue as to what happened. It's then recorded so that it can then be listened back to or played in court.
In fact, completely off topic, but police are actually 1 of the biggest biases of cassette tapes. They don't like moving on technology wise. So if you if you ever go to a police station, let's have reams and reams of cassette tapes anyone going to that, social later probably would only see in the Natural History Museum, but just hundreds and hundreds of tapes of, of, of, police interviews. And after each interview and the evidence has been obtained, the police have to act as if many judges. It's up to them to decide where their dispersants let free they come back at a later date, once you've been able to gather more evidence, or whether to refer them to the CPS or the Crown prosecution service to go to court.
And with all this in mind, I think that Matthew 21, the passage that's just been read to us, is essentially a biblical police interview. It has all the elements of a tar of of a police interrogation. It has an interviewer. It has an interviewee. It has a recording in the Bible, and it has a judgment.
Now Chris went through the scene last week, so I'm not gonna touch too much on it. But I am gonna quickly recap for any who who weren't there or haven't had the chance to catch up. Now, like Chris mentioned, this is a conversation that's going on between Jesus and the chief priests and the elders. Jesus has walked into the synagogue and, unsurprisingly, the chief priest and elders have come up to him and they've approached him and questioned him the second that he's walked in. And instead of responding immediately to their demands, he says that he will answer their questions, who first, they answer his question.
And he turns the tape on and starts the interview. John's baptism. Was it from God or man? Straight to the point, and the chief priest and elders know it. There's no way that they can answer this.
Regardless of what answer they give, they're going to displease the crowd. If they say it was from god, they're gonna ask, why did they kill him? If they say it's from man, the people there, you know, believe that he was a prophet. So they discuss it amongst themselves, and, they can only see 1 way out. 1 answer that will avoid everything.
Their right to remain silent. We don't know. And you can always imagine them wiping their sweat off their face. However, this was only the first question. Integrogations don't tend to stop after 1 question.
And to be fair, we've already seen where their heart is and as I mentioned earlier, the absence of an answer or the right to remain silent is in and of itself, almost an admission of guilt if you come up with something later on. Secondly, Jesus tells them a parable. And again, listen to Chrisus Sherman for a far more in-depth version, but here's the 2 minute 1. 2 sons asked to go work in a vineyard. 1 says I will, but doesn't go, and 1 says I won't, but it does go.
Again, They turn to each other when Jesus says, who does the father's will, and they give the only reasonable answer that we would probably all give as well. The 1 who says that they won't go, but eventually does. What they don't realize is they put another piece of evidence on the table. They are the second sons, the 1 that say that they will go, but don't. The openly appear to, appear to follow god, but actually There is although there is no open rebellion, they are not doing as god has commanded.
Even disgrace sinners who turn back to god and do his will are higher up the table than they are. And that brings us to verse 33. This is Jesus' final line of questioning, again, through a parable. It reads, listen to another parable. There was a land owner who planted a vineyard.
He put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch tower. Then he rented it to the vineyard to some farmers and moved on to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruits. So we're initially presented with the 2 main characters of this parable, the land owner and the farmers. Land owner has a plot of land where he's lovingly planted a vineyard.
Not only that but he's painstakingly built a wall and he's put a tower there to protect it. And finally, he's dug this wine press. The land owner is invested in this vineyard. He loves this vineyard. It is something that he wants to take care of that he is nurtured and grown.
And he is looking to make sure looking to make sure that it doesn't produce bad fruit, that it doesn't go into disrepair, that it doesn't grow with weaves and thorns. So instead he looks for some capable farmers, ones that he believes he could trust. And how with how he's cared for the vineyard so far, we're pretty sure that he's not just gonna go for anyone. It's like a parent. If you go out for the evening, you're not just going to find any babysitter to look after your kids.
I wouldn't go onto the street and find the first person I found look after my vineyard. This land owner is going to diligently find someone that he believes would be able to do the job well. Is going to be someone that he trusts. And as harvest time approaches, the land owner sends his servants to go collect what is rightfully his. To bring to him what he has worked so hard for.
In verse 35, the tenant seized his servants they beat beat 1, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them more than the first time. And the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. They will respect my son, he said.
Now these aren't the good stewards that we expected to be hired. There's no respect for the land owner There is no thankfulness for the job. There is no respect for the land that they've been given. It's like resentment They resent the fact that they have to give something that they believe that they have worked so hard for and that they have the right to. Why should I give to him?
What is mine? So they beat, they murder, they stone, they're entitled. They're full of hatred. But through all of this, you can see the patients of the land owner. Each time his servant comes back bloodied, bruised, broken or dead.
He affords them another chance and another chance and another chance He just keeps sending his servants in the hope that these farmers will change their mind. Can you imagine that kind of patience? I mean, I've heard Pete's patients it comes to someone making the wrong kind of milk sorry, wrong kind of tea. If someone put the milk and the and the hot water in first, and then put the tea bag in. You would never trust that person with anything ever again.
I mean, if if we were the tenants that someone had done this to our lanyard, our lanyard, our land. Can you imagine how quickly we would be onto 9 99? The restraint shown peaks as the land owner, at his wit's end, finally decides to send his own son. This is also a sign of respect from the land owner. The son, his heir, to all of his inheritance, would have had the same authority over this land as the land owner himself.
But when the tenant saw the sun, they said to each other, this is the air. Come. Let's kill him and take his inheritance. So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. They will respect my son.
And they took him and threw him out and killed him. It's it's not even an act of rage. It's not an act of revenge. They just want his inheritance. They want what is rightfully his.
They want to be the land owner. It's his pure and simple greed. I mean, also who in their right mind would think that murdering a son would mean that the inheritance turns to them. It's just pure stupidity, even ignoring the fact that they've had warning after warning after warning from the servants. The land owner is not going to give up at this point.
The farmers are too focused on their own self breeds to see anything beyond themselves. And they've gone too far. There are no more warnings, no more messengers, no more grace. Parents here would have reached this point with their kids before. Staying patient and calm, you've given them warning after warning, not to do something, the constant pushing of every button that they can find, including buttons that you didn't even know that they were there.
2 of these strings 2 of these following 3 things I've actually had to say before. Kesia, don't put that string around your neck. Jimaima, stop playing with that butcher's knife. Ziki, stop putting your tongue in the plug hole. I'll leave up to you to decide which 1 I haven't had to say.
For the love of good, please stop playing with the football inside the house. Suddenly, blood curdling scream, I turn my face 1 of the kids faces blown up with the ball in it. Blood everywhere. The kids have not listened to a word of my command. The warnings have not been heeded, and they pushed it too far, and our punishment is coming.
Or if you were a kid once, I'm sure that you've seen this When I pushed it with my mom too far, she used to say to me, Richard, if you don't stop it, I'll hit you so hard. You won't know whether you're coming or going. I still don't know what that means. I've asked her before and she can't tell me, but what I did know that when I said it, I had pushed things too far and the punishment was coming or going. I I don't know.
There is always a point that you can see where punishment is needed action. So with all that in mind, Jesus presents the Chief priests and elders with a question. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will you do to those tenants? This is the final question of the police interview. What's gonna happen?
To me and you, it's pretty simple. Just like a parent punishing their children, these farmers have taken it too far. The land owner will punish the farmers because they have killed his son and justice must follow. But for the chief priests and elders, there is more to it. This whole parable is taken almost word for word out of the old testament.
In Isaiah chapter 5, you read what happens and the chief priest and elders would have known this. So whatever they say has to tie in with the answer from Isaiah 5. They claim to be the experts on the law, So if they don't know what the answer should be, it's going to be humiliating. It's going to take take them down a few pegs and it would have weakened their authority. To go against the Bible on this would essentially have been, the biblical version of political suicide.
So hopefully you can get Isaiah chapter 2 up chapter 5 up. Aziah chapter 5 verses 1 and 2 reads, I will sing for the love sing for the 1 I love, a song about his vineyard. My loved 1 had a vineyard on her fertile hillside, He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watch tower in it and cut out a wine press as well. And then you look for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
Hopefully, you can see the similarities here the vineyard, the watchtower, the wine press. The parable is intended as a callback. You're supposed to be able to remember Isaiah 5 when you hear it. And when the farah, when the Chief President Aldah did hear it immediately, they would have had this callback, and they would have been tying it into the passage and working out the next steps. Which were verse 3.
Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard that I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard. I will take away its hedge.
It will be destroyed I will break down its wall and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither prunes nor cultivated, and briars and thorns will grow there I will command the clouds not to reignite. As I give the stark image of punishment, this isn't a slap on the wrist. This isn't gentle parenting. There's no negotiation.
The words you use destroyed, broken down trampled, wasteland, briars, thorns, no rain. This isn't an image of a quick pruning. This is total destruction. And the leaders would have known this. So when the question was asked, what's what the tenant's going to do, There is only 1 possible answer.
In verse 41, he will bring those wretches to a wretched end. They replied. And he will rent out the vineyard to other tenants. He will give him his share of the crop at harvest time. This is the final answer to the police interrogation.
And honestly, really, they should have used their right to remain silent here. Yes, it would have meant that the questions would have come up about, didn't they know the law, and it might have lowered their authority and it might have made people question what they were thinking, but it would have had a better job than the answer that they gave. The farmers will meet their end And the job given to them will be given to someone else. But I'm not really sure that they know what they've said. You see, as I'm sure you've realized by now, god is the land owner.
Jesus is the son. And the Chief Greason Alders are the farmers. Chief Greason Alders are chosen to take care of the vineyard Or as you might know, a vineyard in the bible is often used as an image for his people. They are chosen to steward and care for his people. God has placed them in authority and entrusted them.
The land owner or the god has sent servant after servant or prophet after prophet after prophets to remind the people of his relationship and his covenant with them. But they've rejected them. They killed them. They kicked them out. And now instead of looking to god, and praising him and his glory.
Instead, they inflate their own glory. And we've even seen this parable. This whole parable is a warning to them. God is pleading with them. Pleading with the the people, the farmers, the chief priests, and the elders to listen.
And even with Jesus in front of them, in the likeness of man, standing there as god, the son, they still reject him. In spite of everything that he has done, They would rather put themselves on the pedestals rather than put god in his rightful place. So for them to point out the answer of Isaiah is them for failing to understand this is about them. They're openly saying that god will destroy them for rejecting Jesus. They confessed, and they haven't even realized it And if you need any more evidence, if you turn towards the end of the chapter, after that they realize that this is about them, instead of falling down on their knees and saying sorry, they look for ways to arrest him.
They're fulfilling the prophecy. Right? But they don't even realize it. And if you go on a few more chapters, the arrest turns into the desire to murder. This is 1 of the most amazing ways I have seen someone handing themselves in, and I've been I've been privy to a few.
In the police. I had some pretty interesting ways of people getting themselves into trouble. I remember this 1 time where I just walked out of Greg's, and those who know me know I love her Greg's with my sausage roll and my baguette in my uniform. 1 of the kids from the estate walks up to me. I can't do a street accent, so I'm not gonna try.
And he goes, I didn't turn up to court yesterday, and I wanted So I called up the operator and did a quick check, and I know that if he didn't turn up to court, yes, I already know the answer. Surprise surprise, the answer was, yes, he's wanted. Now A few choice words were had by him and he starts running away. Now he wasn't the fittest lad in the world, so I would consider he's running a fast amble. And I decided to follow-up behind really just wanting to sit down and eat my gregs.
So as this lad limply runs away, he turns into a nunnery. 1 way in, 1 way out, not the most sympathetic staff in the world. So rubbing my baked goods I follow him behind, and I I see a tree. And this tree has got quite a big girth, but the guy has a bigger girth. So I he was taken away in the band and that, as he he turned to me and says, mate, what?
I just asked you a question. Why did you get me arrested? The guy had handed himself over to me. And then there's the story of, Nancy Crumpton Brofrey, of anyone who've heard of her. So in 2018, Nancy's husband died.
2 gunshot wounds overhead in the, culinary kitchen that he worked in. Gears went by. Nancy moved on with her life, and she was a an avid author. And she had her own blog, and she was a bit of a, She she liked she liked to write, crime novels. 1 of the novels was entitled how to murder your husband.
And she'd also previously written a book called the wrong husband. The detailed events in those books were very, very clearly associated to how her husband had died. A few months later, she was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Now these stories are are just ridiculous. Thoughtsless words led to a downfall But here, we're not looking at a couple of hours in the police station for asking whether you should be in court.
We're not looking at 25 years in prison for murdering a loved 1. We're looking at eternal destruction. We're looking at the leaders here being discarded like a disused food wrapper. They have rejected god's son, and they already knew the sentence, and they should have seen it coming from where the questions were going. But their self importance clouded their logical mind.
And instead, their need to always be right was put first. The police interview is over. The question is complete. 3 questions in and the leaders have pointed out that as suspects, they are guilty. They have provided their own judgment.
And at this point, The police would probably head off for a pint because the work's been done. But there's a few things for us to bear in mind from all of this. The first 1 is I just want to be clear that this is a warning not to take god's grace for granted. As we've seen through this parable, god is a patient god. More patient than us, more patient than we could possibly imagine.
In the old testament, he showed patience again and again by constantly sending prophets as displayed by the servants in his parable. I mean, if you just turn to the book of judges, which I'm going through with my kids at the moment, there's a constant rotation between the Israelites turning away. God handing them over to their enemies, them crying out to god god hearing them, god rescuing them, them turning away. God handing them over to their enemies, and then crying out and again and again and again. God never gives up.
He's given warnings through Jesus. The parables before this and these parables are constantly pointing out turned to him. But we learn that 1 day judgment will come. There's pictures of judgment all throughout this parable. The wine press in verse 33 right there in the middle of the vineyard.
Wine presses are often used as an image of judgment of wrath In Isaiah, it talks about destruction and desolation. And for those who prefer their own authority, to want to rule their own lives, like for farmers, there is a warning. And if you find yourself rejecting Jesus when you listen to this, If you find yourself listening to the narrative that this world wants you to hear and wants you to know and wants you to follow. You need to listen to the word instead. In verse 42, Jesus said to them, have you never read in the scriptures the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
The lord has done it, and it is marvellous in our eyes. They are rejecting Jesus, the cornerstone. He is the foundation, and he should be their foundation. Remember where we are in the passage. We've had questions from Jesus to remind the chief priests and elders constantly They've avoided the questions, and they've given answers to please themselves and the crowds.
But they're not listening. They're not listening to the warning. They're fulfilling it And if you have own thing if you have things in your own life warning you about your own mortality, about your own judgment, don't ignore them. Don't reject this cornerstone. I mean, you can reject this cornerstone, but don't reject the cornerstone.
I mean, as a side note, isn't it great to walk into a church every day when you can be reminded that Jesus is the foundation purely by the name alone? If you do reject Jesus, it isn't going to be a momentary punishment. I know that 1 thing we all struggle with is pride especially here in the UK, we don't like asking for help. If something's broken, it will remain broken just like, pre Tom pre Tom preach this morning. It will take far too long to fix just because we just don't like asking for help.
We would rather struggle and fail and keep ourselves as on the pedestal than asking anyone for help. But this is 1 thing that we cannot help ourselves with. We are not the cornerstone. We are not a solid base. At the end verse 34, it says is talking about the cornerstone.
Anyone whom it falls will be crushed. Don't make the mistake. Don't allow yourself to be crushed by ignoring Jesus, ignoring the signs. The questions that he asked the chief priests and elders ask yourself because you will be brought you will be crushed. And I know that I'm repeating this point here, and I know that I'm just saying again and again and again but you need to understand how serious this is.
If you allow your pride, to cloud your judgment. If you keep yourself on the pedestal and elevate, elevate yourself higher than anything else, you are playing with fire. You need to put god where he deserves to be. You need to put him higher than yourself. And we know that the Bible tells us that if we are not actively telling the truth, we are suppressing it.
Romans's 1 verse 18 tells us the wrath of god is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth. By their wickedness. This is an active suppression. You cannot reject god and not realizing it, you are actively rejecting him. Our pride fails to acknowledge that Jesus is the cornerstone.
And if your pride forces you to push that truth down deep inside you that you don't have to listen to anymore, if you are something else apart from god, is the most important thing in your life. Then no, according to this passage that you are in the same camp, as the farmers, as the chief priests and the elders. On the other hand, if you have accepted Christ. If you've swallowed that desire within you to be higher than him, Then there is hope in this passage. In verse 41 and 43, let me read them out.
He will bring those wretches to a wretched end. They replied and he will rent out the vineyard to other tenants. He will give him his share of the crop at harvest time. First 43. Therefore, I tell you the kingdom of god will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruits.
The kingdom of god, Jesus will be taken away from those who reject him, and given to those who've suppressed their pride so press their desire to elevate themselves above god, and they will share in it. Those who give to god what he deserves, those who praise him and glory in him, who understand that they are proud they will be the ones that inherit the vineyard. And that's a difficult job. We have our own plans We have our own desires. We have things that we want to do and things that we hope to do, and I'm not saying that having plans is a bad thing.
It's aligning your plans. The farmer's plans were all about themselves. They wanted to rule themselves. If your plans look, if your plans instead look to give the land owner or god what he deserves, If your desires are to give god the glory, then you will be given what has been taken away from others. It's a book called The 3 Trees, which if you're in the men's, that the dad's WhatsApp group, you might have heard me talking about this week, which I love reading to my kids.
Unsurprisingly it's about 3 trees. Upper Hill wants to 1 wants to be a treasure chest. When he's cut down, he wants to hold magnificent treasures that when people look at him, they think of his glory. The second 1 wants to be turned into a mighty boat. When he's chopped down, he wants to sail kings across the ocean.
And when the third one's chopped down, it wants to become a well, third 1 doesn't want to be chopped down. It wants to remain there high and tall. Now years later, the trees are cut down. The first has turned into a, a place for animals to eat from. The seconds turn into a wooden fishing boat, and the third is just as guided in the timber yard.
Years pass, and the trees forget about their dreams, if trees can forget about their dreams. The first tree in the middle of a stable witnesses a baby being born. And as the baby's placed inside it, it realized it's holding the most important treasure in the world. The secondary are unable to sail oceans. As a simple fish and ship takes a man, and his friends across a lake.
And as the tides kick in and the winds whip up, 1 of the passenger stands up and tells them to be still. Then he realizes he's holding the drooping of the world. The third tree was taken from the, Lambiard. Had a man's hands cruelly nailed to it. It was hoisted up and jeered in front of, in front of the the Romans But 3 days later, when the earth trembled with joy, it knew that it was truly standing tall and high, Oh, and anyone thought about it, they would think of god.
These trees had their own plans. They had their own joys, they wanted to be the 1 that people looked at. When they saw the glory of god, their hearts changed, and that's what we need to do. So where are you? Would you rather do things on your own?
Would you rather rule your life? Would you rather have yourself broken, smashed to pieces? Do you want to be like the pharisees? Who refuse to acknowledge god. Do you want to be at the pharisees when you finally understand what you're talking about that your hearts get your hearts get even harder.
Would you rather give to god the creator of heaven and earth what he deserves? Would you rather sit in his glory than your own? Would you trust in him, for your future inheritance as opposed to looking looking for what you have now? And when the land owner does come, and he does come to collect the harvest, do you want to be joyfully there with him? Enjoying the riches of the glory that he wants to share with you.
This is a tough passage, and I know that I've kind of repeated an awful lot about the judgment. But if you don't have it right with god, you really need to. And even if you think you have it right with god, you need to assess what your priorities are. We do not want to be in the same camp as the chief priests and elders. We do not want to be fine being asked, what will happen next and know that judgment will come if we are not ready with him.
Sounds like a bit of a down note to its end on. But do remember that if you do if we do have it right, there is so much more glory to be had. Let me pray. Well, thank you for your word Thank you that we know that, you are so more valuable than what we have and what we can do. Help us not to put our own pride ahead of you, to be putting ourselves on the pedestal, to be thinking that what we have now and what we want is better than what you can give us.
I pray you help us to be humble with before you, lord. I pray for those who do love you that we would know that we are here to share with you, Lord, that glorifying you with you is so much more exciting than glorifying in our own broken bodies. Oh, man.