NT Connect: Matthew 21:33-46
Weekly Reading: Isaiah 1-6
The Lord’s Vineyard
I hope you have enjoyed being reminded of the beautiful connection between God’s Word recorded for us in both Testaments of Scripture.These last several months have been informative and formative as we have read through portions of the Old Testament and have seen the connection with the New Testament.
Today, as we prepare for the first Sunday of Advent, we see another great connection between Old and New Testaments as Jesus in Matthew 21:33-46 picks up on the picture of a vineyard from Isaiah 5.
Simply put, Isaiah’s passage is stark reminder that God holds his people responsible to live and to serve in a way that would bring him glory. Isaiah compares Israel to a vineyard that has not been fruitful, and because they did not yield fruit, the Lord will punish his people.
Jesus picks up on this familiar image of the vineyard in Matthew 21 and admonishes the religious practices of his own day. He’s particularly critical of the religious leaders because they are failing in their responsibility to be on mission for Yahweh.
It is a vivid image, as Jesus warns that those who do not bear fruit will be kicked out of the Lord’s vineyard, and the vineyard will be given to “other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons” (21:41). Don’t miss how Jesus is purposefully recounting the history of Israel in this brief parable. He – in a less than subtle way – is addressing how the Jewish religious leadership rejected the Lord and his servants.
The Good News is that now WE have been brought into the vineyard. As Gentile believers, we now can be numbered in God’s family through our faith in Jesus.
We must remember that we have been given the vineyard as a gift. We have not earned it by our hard work. We’re not guaranteed it by our birth. Rather, it is simply a gift from God. Faith in Jesus is the way into the vineyard. He is the way into the kingdom of God.
The Christian life is more than getting into the vineyard. We must also bear fruit. Now, we are called to live as those who produce fruit that is worthy of our king. It is important for us not to lose sight of the fact that we not only have entrance into the vineyard, but we must be about the work of producing fruit in the vineyard: living and serving in a way that glorifies God.
The sacrifice of Jesus’ love compel us to listen, trust, and obey our Savior.
Dr. Tom Smiley