Do you know what a “husbandman” is in the Bible? Hint: it has nothing to do with being married! A husbandman rented from a landowner, tending his crops. When harvest came, the husbandman gave his landowner a large portion of the crop.
Matthew 21 speaks about religious leaders in Jerusalem’s temple who rejected Jesus’ teachings. They interrupted Him in the middle of a sermon, asking who gave Him authority to teach in the temple. Can you imagine interrupting your pastor on Sundays? How much worse to interrupt Jesus! To answer these rude men, Jesus used a parable to teach them about Himself. He told the story of a man who owned a vineyard – where grapes grow – and how wicked husbandmen greedily wanted all the profit from that year’s crop. When reaping time came, the landowner sent three servants to his vineyard so they could collect the landowner’s portion of grapes.
The greedy husbandmen weren’t content with just their share, so they beat up one servant, stoned the other, and killed the third. When the owner found out what happened to his servants, he sent three more, but the husbandmen did the same to these servants. Finally, the landowner decided to send his own son to claim the harvest saying, “They will reverence my son.” When the husbandmen saw the owner’s son coming, rather than showing him respect, they plotted to kill him. They wanted to claim the entire vineyard for themselves, stealing the son’s inheritance. What terrible actions a greedy heart can cause!
Jesus ended his parable with the son’s murder and then asked the temple rulers what the owner should do to these husbandmen. These prideful rulers answered that the owner should kill them and rent out his vineyard to good husbandmen who would give him the rightful portion of his crop. Jesus scolded them, quoting Psalm 118: 22: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” This is difficult to understand, isn’t it? What lesson was Jesus teaching these rulers? To understand this parable, we must understand who each person represents. The vineyard owner is a type of God the Father, the vineyard is His Kingdom, the husbandmen are people who reject God, the servants are faithful followers of God, and the son is a type of Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son Who shed His blood on the cross. He is the “head stone” or foundation of our faith when we trust in Him. Sadly, these temple rulers (“builders”) had refused Christ just as the wicked husbandmen refused the vineyard owner’s son.
How does this parable apply to you? You are either one of God’s faithful servants who has come to Jesus Christ the Son for salvation or you are like the wicked husbandmen who refuse the Son. You want all the pleasures of the world just like these husbandmen wanted the entire vineyard for themselves. In the end, their greediness and sin led to their destruction.
This Easter, we celebrate our Saviour rising from the dead after dying on the cross for sin. Have you trusted Him as your Savior, or do you continue to reject His great salvation?
Rachel Huffman teaches at a High School in South Carolina, and is a member of Greenville FPC.