The Vineyards

by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

"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 vineyard 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 another 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 belonged 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 Has now become the chief and corner-stone; This is the work of the Lord, And it is wonderful in our sight?"

"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.