Matthew 21:31-35

Mat 21:31 (KJB)
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Then Jesus asks them a simple question about the parable. Which one of the two sons had done the will of God? The obvious answer was that the first son had done the will of his father because even though he refused to go at first, he repented of his attitude and went to work in the vineyard. Then Jesus likens the first son to the publicans and harlots. They may resist at first but they know that their lifestyle will end only in destruction so they hear the Gospel message and receive the Lord as their Savior and become saved. Then Jesus likens the second son who stated he would work in the vineyard but then went his own way to the religious leaders. They claim to be representatives of God in earth in that they are in the temple and are supposed to be following the law of Moses, yet, they have gone their own way by creating another gospel such as the oral law and the Talmud and by using these, they have completely twisted the law of Moses to their advantage. The will of God for these leaders is found in John 6:40. (John 6:40 KJV) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The will of God for them is to believe on His Son and this they did not do but went their own way with their own writings.

Mat 21:32 (KJB)
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

John the Baptist had come on the scene as the one prophesied by Malachi and was a prophet who came to preach the way of righteousness and to be the forerunner of the Messiah. The religious leaders did not believe John even though he was a prophet but the publicans and harlots knew they were living a life of sin and believed John. The big problem with the religious leaders was that they thought they were not sinners. (John 9:34 KJV) They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. They viewed themselves as sinless. Even when they saw the harlots and publicans believing John and desiring to change their lives, it did not affect them because they were so steeped in sin that that they were forever blinded to their own sin.

Mat 21:33 (KJB)
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

Then Jesus gives them another parable. This time He speaks of a householder who plants a vineyard. Then it was hedged to protect it against wild animals who would come in and eat the fruit. Then to protect it against thieves, he built a tower so his watchmen could see over the whole vineyard and sound an alarm if anyone approaches it. Then that same man who would be expecting fruit at a certain time of the year had built a wine press which would have been made of solid rock for the purpose of crushing the fruit. Then while the vineyard was growing, he hired some husbandmen or farmers to care for the vineyard while he went away into a far country, for maybe business purposes or to create a market for his fruit. At this point we can safely conclude that only Israel is in view because the parable is being aimed at the religious leaders. After the start of the church at Pentecost, we could widen this parable to the body of Christ. It can be applied to the church as Christ has returned to Heaven and now He has let it out to farmers or pastors who will take care of the vineyard till He will return on the last day. As the leaders of Israel had made merchandise of the people of Israel, the false pastors down through the history, and including the present, in many of the churches have made merchandise of Godís people.

Mat 21:34 (KJB)
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

Now the time that the householder was away was not just a few months but it was for five years which was the time of fruit. (Lev 19:23-25 KJV) And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. {24} But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal. {25} And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God. Now he has everything set and sends servants to the farmers to begin to start harvesting the fruit. This was akin to God sending the prophets to Israel to teach them the way to get right with God again. Then when Israel was back on the righteous path again, she would bear fruit.

Mat 21:35 (KJB)
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

The husbandmen had been taking care of the vineyard for so long that they eventually began to think that ownership had transferred to them. Now they took action on that belief and tried to steal the vineyard, that is, they thought that they were the rightful leaders of Israel and nobody could interfere with their rule. So when God had sent prophets to Israel and Judah, their response to the prophets was rejection to the point of murder. For many of the prophets which God sent, stoning to death is what awaited them. Here is the stoning of Zechariah. (2 Chr 24:20-21 KJV) And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. {21} And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.