Matthew 21:28-43 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ (29) “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. (30) “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. (31) “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. (32) For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The first son here clearly refers to the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders—those in the religious establishment. The second son refers to the tax collectors and the prostitutes—the “sinners” in the world. Let’s now fast forward 2,000 years and observe the situation today in America. We have a religious establishment called organized Christianity, and we have people who were lost in sin, for example in the drug culture, who repent and serve the Lord from the heart. Might we make the same conclusion about our present situation as Jesus made back then?
(33) “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. (34) When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. (35) “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. (36) Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. (37) Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. (38) “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ (39) So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. (40) “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (41) “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.” (42) Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
(43) “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.
(44) Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” (45) When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. (46) They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
The second parable is similar in meaning the first one earlier in this chapter. The farmers who rented the vineyard represent the religious establishment. The vineyard will be taken away from it and rented to other tenants who will produce its fruit. Today in America we can see the same situation developing. Organized Christianity is for the most part not producing fruit for the kingdom of God. Observe for example what is happening in our culture despite the majority of Americans claiming to be “Christian.”
This is not to mention the failure of Christianity to fulfill the Great Commission and disciple all nations even after 2,000 years. And so it would appear that the kingdom of God is being taken away from organized Christianity and given to “sinners” from the world who have truly repented and now serve God by producing good fruit.
We have just recently (2015) heard of former drug dealers who met Jesus. They repented of their sin and turned their depraved lives around. Now they are serving the kingdom of God very, very fruitfully. As Scripture was fulfilled when the gospel was re-directed to the gentiles from the unbelieving Jews 2,000 years ago, it appears that during these last days once again the kingdom of God is moving in that direction.