(F) The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers

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Luke spent considerable time with Paul (a former Pharisee) - see Col 4:14; II Tim 4:11 and the “we” portions of Acts that includes the presence of Luke as the author - Acts 16:10-17; 20:5 - 21:13; 27:1 - 28:16. Luke partially relied on Paul for some of the relations between the leaders of the Jews when he wrote. Paul, having been a Pharisee and having lived in Jerusalem, would have been an excellent first hand source of extra background information for Luke's writings.

Luke 20:9 [NKJV], “Then He began to tell the people this parable: A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time.”
Luke 20:10, “... the vinedressers beat him ...”
Luke 20:11, “... they [the vinedressers] beat him also ...”
Luke 20:12, “... they [the vinedressers] wounded him also ...”
Luke 20:13, “... I will send My beloved son ...”
Luke 20:14, “... vinedressers ... reasoned among themselves ... let us kill him.”
Luke 20:15, “... they [the vinedressers] ... killed [him]. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?”
Luke 20:16, “He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others. And when they heard [it] they said. Certainly not!”
Luke 20:17, “Then He looked at them and said, What then is this that is written: The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone!”
Luke 20:18, “Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind to powder.”
Luke 20:19, “And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people - for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.”

The parallel passage in Mark starts in Mark 11:27 where it mentions, “the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him”. The continuous flow of the narrative goes down to Mark 12:12, “And they [chief priests, scribes, and elders] sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them.” The parallel passage in Matthew begins in Mat 21:33 and ends in Mat 21:45-46, “Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them, but when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.”

In this parable the phrase, “the stone which the builders rejected” is mentioned in Mat 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17 directly before the conclusion which shows that the leaders of Israel correctly perceived He was talking about them as the builders who rejected Him (the stone), and also about them as the vinedressers who killed Him (the son). Israel is the vineyard.

In the midst of the conclusion to this parable, when He says, in Mat 21:43, “the kingdom will be taken from you”, it is clear that He is agreeing with their interpretation that they are the leaders and that the kingdom refers to Israel and especially its government.

Luke says, “chief priests and scribes”. Mark says, “chief priests, scribes, and elders”. Matthew says, “chief priests and Pharisees”. Despite these differences, all three mention chief priests first.

These leaders understood that they themselves were the vinedressers in the parable, and the vineyard was Israel. Thus the parable teaches that at the general time of the crucifixion, the leading position among Jews in Judea was in the hands of the chief priests, which were Sadducees, but the Pharisees also had some
leadership. This is the clearest statement of which group held the leading position from the standpoint of the seat of semi-autonomous government permitted by the Jews under the Roman Empire.