Three Parables of Warning
( Originally Published 1915 )
IMMEDIATELY after answering the question of the priests and the rulers, Jesus gave three parables, one directly after another; and all aimed at his enemies. The first was "The Parable of the Two Sons."
"What do you think of this?" said Jesus. "There was a man who had two sons. He went to the older son, and said to him, `My son, go and work in the vine-yard today.' `Yes, sir,' said the young man. `I will go.' But although he had given his promise to go, he broke it, for he did not go.
"Then the father spoke to his second son, as he had spoken to the first. `My son, go and work today in the vineyard.' This one said to his father, `I will not go.' But afterward he was sorry, and went into the vineyard to work. Now tell me, which of these two sons did as his father told him to do?"
They answered him, " The second."
"I tell you truly," said. Jesus, "that the tax-gatherers and the bad women are going into the kingdom of God instead of you, who believe yourselves to be better than others. For John the Baptist came and showed you how to live, and you would not believe him nor do as he said. But the tax-gatherers and the bad women believed him and turned from their evil ways to God. And even when you saw them turning from evil to good, you would not seek God after them and follow the words of John."
Then Jesus spoke to these rulers another parable, called "The Parable of the Wicked Vine-dressers."
"Listen to another parable," he said. "A man who owned some land planted upon it a vineyard of grape-vines. He put a fence around it, dug a wine-vat inside it, and built a tower in the middle of the vineyard, so that a watchman might be on the lookout against thieves. Then he let it out to vine-dressers, to take care of it, and at the time of ripe grapes to send him his share of the fruit or its worth in money. After leasing the vineyard, he went away to an-other country.
"When the time for the vintage drew near, the time for gathering the grapes, he sent his servants for his share of the fruit. But instead of giving him what be-longed to him,
the vine-dressers seized his servants. One servant they flogged and drove away, another they killed, and a third they stoned. A second time the owner sent some other servants, more than before; and the vine-dressers treated them in the same way. And so it was with many others; some they beat and some they killed.
"The owner of the vineyard had one son, a young man, whom he loved very dearly. Last of all he sent this son to them, saying to himself, `They will surely respect my son, and will not treat him as they have treated the servants.'
"But those men said, as soon as they saw him, 'This is the one who is to own the vineyard when his father dies. Let us kill him, and then the vineyard will be ours.' So when he came, they seized him and killed him, and. flung his body outside the vineyard.
"Now, I will ask you," said Jesus, "when the owner of that vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-dressers?"
They answered, "He will utterly destroy those vile, cruel men, and will lease his vineyard to other vine-dressers, who will give him every year his share of the fruit."
"Have you never read this verse," said Jesus.
"The stone which the builders refused
"I tell you," added Jesus, "that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a people that brings to God its fruits. Yes, and he who falls on this stone shall be dashed to pieces; and whoever this stone falls on shall be ground to powder!"
As the chief priests and Pharisees and rulers heard these parables, they knew at once that they were spoken against them. 'They were eager to seize Jesus, but were afraid of the crowds around, for all the common people looked upon him as a prophet speaking God's word.
Jesus gave a third parable : that of "The Marriage of the King's Son. This, given in the Temple, was in some parts like another, "The Parable of the Great Feast," which he had already given in Perea; but other parts of it, as we shall see, were different from that parable.
"There was a certain king," said Jesus, "who gave a great supper at the marriage of his son. He sent out his servants to those who had been invited to the feast, but they would not come. Once again he sent some other servants, and told them to say to the guests:
" `Here is my supper all ready, the oxen and fat cattle have been killed; everything is ready; come to the feast.'
"But they paid no attention to his words, and went off, one to his farm and another to his shop. And some seized his servants, ill-treated them and even killed them. This made the king very angry. He sent his army, put those murderers to death and burned up their city.
"Then the king said to his servants, `The marriage feast is ready; but those who were the invited guests were not fit for it. Go out into the streets of the city and the roads in the country, and ask everybody whom you meet to come to the wedding.' The servants went forth into the roads, and brought to the feast all whom they met, both the bad and the good. So the marriage supper had plenty of guests.
"When the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man among them who was not wearing a wedding robe. For as each guest came to the house, a beautiful robe was given him, to be worn at the supper.
" `My friend,' said the king to this man, `how was it that you came in here without a wedding robe?'
"The man stood silent, for he had nothing to say. Then said the king to his servants:
" `Tie this man hand and foot, and throw him out of doors into the darkness. There men will wail and gnash their teeth. For I tell you that many are invited, but few are chosen.' "