The Son of Man Be Lifted Up 

John 3:9-14 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and know not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up 

The question Nicodemus asked Christ should have been clear to him if he had known such Scripture as Jeremiah 31:33; 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:25-27; Psalm 51:10; Isaiah 1:18-20; 55:6 which says “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

‘Art thou a master of Israel, and know not these things?’ Jesus expected him to know the Scriptures enough to be saved, but he was like most people today, even many ministers who do not know what the new birth is.

‘You receive not our witness’ This is the only hint that Nicodemus at this time went away in doubt about spiritual things, but later it is clear he accepted them (John 19:39).

The earthly things in this passage are in John 3:6 and 8 and the heavenly in John 3:3, 5, 6 and 8.

The Greek word for ‘ascended up’ is anabaino which means to go up of own power, not taken up as was Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5), Elijah (2Kin. 2:11), Paul (2Cor. 12:1-3), and John (Rev. 4:1). This refers to the ascension of Christ (John 3:13; 6:62; Acts 1:11; Lk. 24:51; Eph. 4:8-10). Christ ascended and came back before His final ascension to heaven to stay (John 20:17).

The verse ‘is in heaven’ proves that Jesus had already ascended when John wrote this book; that the conversation with Nicodemus ended with John 3:12; and that Jesus was now in heaven.

The fourth New Testament prophecy in John that is fulfilled ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up (Num. 21:9; John 8:28; 12:32, 34; 1Pet. 2:24). It behoved Christ to be crucified in order to fulfil prophecy and to redeem man (Lk. 24:26, 46; Acts 3:18; 17:3).

Behold, the Lamb of God

John 1:29-34  The next day John see Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptize with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 

John the Baptist saw Christ and proclaimed “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” This is the first New Testament prophecy fulfilled in John. Lamb of God is a symbol of Christ, mentioned thirty-two times (Isa. 53:7; John 1:36; Acts 8:32; 1Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-17; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1-10; 15:3; Rev. 17:14; 19:7-9; 21:9-27; 22:1-3). The Greek word for taketh away is airo, which means to bear in the sense of removing sin; doing away with the guilt and punishment (1Pet. 2:24; Psa. 103:12; 1Jn. 3:5). The Greek word for sin is hamartia, which means missing the mark; always in a moral sense – a sin, whether by omission or commission, in thought, word, or deed. Christ came to teach men how to shoot straight – to hit the moral bull’s eye every time (Tit. 2:11-14; 1Jn. 2:1-2, 29; 3:9; 5:1-4, 5:18).

‘For he was before me’ – Christ lived before John as the second person of the Trinity “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” Micah 5:2 (See also Isa. 9:6-7; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8.) John did not know Jesus, but he did know the Father who sent Jesus (v33). The Greek word for manifest is phaneroo, which means to bring to light. Here, it means to introduce the Messiah to Israel (John 1:11; Matt. 15:24).

John bare record, the Greek word martureo means bearing witness. There was seven witnesses to the Messiah: The Father (John 5:30-38; 8:13-18); the Son (John 5:17-27; 8:14; 18:37); the Holy Spirit (John 15:26; 16:13-15); the written Word (John 1:45; 5:38, 46); Divine works (John 5:17, 36; 10:25; 14:11; 15:24); John the Baptist (John 1:7,32-34; 5:33-35); and the Disciples (John 15:27; 19:35; 21:24).

The Greek word for abode is meno which means abide, dwell, remain. Occurs 41 times in John and only 12 times in the other gospels.

‘He that sent me’ is a clear reference to the Trinity. The Son he did not know; the Father he did know; and the Spirit he saw coming from the Father upon the Son (Matt. 3:16-17; Lk.3:22). The Greek word for see is eidon which means to see; not only the mere act of looking but the actual perception of the object. Thus, not only have the Father and Son been seen with human eyes as separate and distinct persons at the same time and place (Dan. 7:9-14; Acts 7:55; Rev. 5:7; 7:10), but the Holy Spirit as a separate person from both the Father and the Son has been seen.

‘Spirit descending, and remaining on him’ is a fulfilment of Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1 and recorded in Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:10 and Luke 3:22. Christ is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16; 24:49; John 7:37-39; 15:16-17, 26; Acts 1:4-8; 11:16).

The Testimony of John the Baptist

John 1:19-24  And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 

John the Baptist was not the Christ, Elijah, or anyone else who had lived in the past. He was the natural son of Zacharias and Elizabeth (Lk. 1:24, 1:57). He came in the spirit and power of Elijah to do for Israel before the first coming, what Elijah will do before the second coming (Mal. 4:5-6; Lk. 1:17). This explains Matthew 11:14 and 17:10-13.

He was the prophet that Moses predicted would come (Deu. 18:15-18; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37).

‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias’ is the first Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the gospel of John.

Malachi 3:1 predicted of John “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Believe on His Name

John 1:12-14  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 

The gospel benefits only the individual (Mar. 16:16; John 3:16; 6:37) – as many as received him – and to them did He delegated power; the liberty and right to use power. It is the liberty and right for every man to be saved if he wills (1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17) for they that believe on His name (Acts 2:21; 3:16; 4:12).

The Greek word for born is gennao which means a bringing forth. A word used of people who are adopted into the family of God (John 3:3; 1Jn. 2:29; 3:9; 5:1, 5:18). It does not mean in either of these uses that a new body, soul, and spirit have come into existence, as when used of Christ who is the only begotten Son of God and the first begotten of Mary (John 1:14, 18; 3:16). Not of blood, that is, not by right of natural descent from man. Not by right of the flesh merely to escape punishment. Not by right of man’s theories and religions, but of God who took man’s place to save him (John 3:16; Rom. 3:20-30; 2Cor. 5:14-21).

Christ was made flesh, not spirit; but man, not God; and earthly, not heavenly. This made Him God’s Son, for sonship in connection with Jesus Christ always refers to humanity, never to deity (Lk. 1:35; Acts 13:33).

Jesus is and was and always will be the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14,18; 3:16, 18; 1Jn. 4:9). Men never will be begotten or born in the same sense as Jesus was (Matt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:34-35), for their sonship is on a different basis – that of adoption, not an actual begetting and coming into existence (Rom. 8:15; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).

Full of the grace by which we are saved and not an excuse to continue in sin (Rom. 6:1-3; Heb. 10:26-31) and the truth which is the Gospel – the life of Jesus Christ that was set as an example for us to live accordingly (1Pet. 2:21-23).

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.  Mat 25:1-13 KJV

It can be seen that the events of Matthew 24-25 occur in consecutive order and are connected to each other by such words as “then,” “for then,” etc. The order of events can easily be traced by these connecting words. The first connecting word is in Matthew 24:9. The statement in Matthew. 24:7-8 tells of “the beginning of sorrows,” such as wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. “Then shall they deliver you up . . . And then shall many be offended”. Mt. 24:9-10 The next definite timepoint is in Matthew 24:15, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation [Antichrist sitting in the temple of God in the middle of Daniel’s Seventieth Week] . . . Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains . . . [Matthew 24:16-20]: For then shall be great tribulation . . . [Matthew 24:21-22] Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there . . . [Matthew 24:23-28] Immediately, after the tribulation of those days  [from the abomination on to the Second Coming of Christ Himself]  shall the sun be darkened . . . And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven” Mt. 24:29-31 The next connecting word is in Matthew 24:40, Then [at the coming of the Son of man] two shall be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other be left.” Following this truth, there are two parables which are connected to the Second Coming of Christ in that they illustrate readiness and faithfulness in view of His coming. Mt. 24:43-51

The first word in Matthew 25 is the first word of the parable of the ten virgins. It is another connecting word then, which connects the parable to the coming of the Son of man “immediately after the tribulation,” as explained above. It is clear to begin with that the parable of the ten virgins illustrates truth connected with the literal coming of Christ to the Earth. It can be seen that any connection with the Rapture of the Church is out of harmony with the truth that is intended to be illustrated by the parable. This parable is a continuation of the answer concerning “the end of the age” and should be understood in that light. This fact alone will prove that it has a different setting from that which is commonly understood and will culminate the many unscriptural and fanciful interpretations that are based upon the details of the illustration.

Then [at the literal coming of Christ to the Earth with the saints] shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.” This is an illustration concerning the kingdom of Heaven, not the Church. The whole truth illustrated is plainly stated in Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Since this is the truth Jesus is illustrating by this story of a particular oriental wedding ceremony, then there is no other point definitely illustrated by Him here in this parable. A parable is simply an illustration of some truth and the details are not to be stressed unduly. They are necessary only to make a complete story so that a truth can be illustrated. Thus, it is important that no hidden meanings are given to details of a parable.

REFUTING SOME FALSE THEORIES

It is almost universally believed that oil in the parable symbolizes the Holy Spirit and that the virgins symbolize different classes of Christians. Some insist that the wise are those who have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and that the foolish have not. Thus, it is implied that both the foolish and wise have salvation (lamps), but only the wise have the Holy Spirit (oil). Others go further and insist that only those who have the baptism in the Holy Spirit will be caught up in the Rapture, and that Christians in general who have not had that experience will be left here to go through the Tribulation. Still others say that a person is not saved unless they have the baptism in the Spirit.

Many preach these errors as an incentive for seeking the experience of baptism in the Spirit, but regardless of the ultimate aim of such message, it may be stated here that in the light of other plain Scriptures the doctrines are erroneous. This type of teaching illustrates the errors men get into by basing doctrines upon the details of parables without having plain Bible passages to support them in such teaching. This teaching arbitrarily condemns many earnest-hearted and devout Christians who have not yet received light on the baptism in the Holy Spirit as taught by this school. It also suggests that others who have had the light on the subject are not living clean lives because they have not received the baptism in the Spirit. It automatically sets up a standard of cleansing other than the established blood-washed way, and ultimately advances qualifications for the Rapture of the Church and entrance into the body of Christ which are not taught in plain passages of Scripture.

These interpretations break down at every point when they are considered in the light of the details of the parable, as well as in the light of other plain Scriptures. The lamps cannot symbolize salvation, profession, or anything of that nature, as is clear by the usage of the word throughout the Bible. The word “lamp” is used as a symbol of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, but never of salvation or of the body of man. Exod. 27:20; 1 Sam. 3:3; Ps. 119:105; Rev. 4:5; 8:10 The word “oil” has no more reference to the Spirit here than it does in other scriptures.

How could people who are both saved and baptized in the Spirit, be in such lethargy as were these ten virgins, both wise and foolish? The Lord says to such, “I will spue thee out of my mouth” Rev. 3:16; Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 15:34; Eph. 5:14 Let it be noticed further, that at the time of the Rapture people will have no time to rise and trim their lamps (so-called “salvation”) as did all these virgins, for the Rapture is to take place “in the twinkling of an eye”. 1 Cor. 15:51-58 If anyone after the Rapture became sufficiently worthy to receive the oil (so-called “Spirit”) would Christ be likely to say to him, “I know you not,” as was said to the foolish virgins by this particular bridegroom? Thus, it is evident that an attempt at a detailed meaning of this simple illustration of watchfulness to the people in the kingdom of Heaven at the “end of the age” when Christ comes to set up His kingdom is out of harmony with the purpose of the parable and sound doctrines of the Bible.

Summary of Twelve False Doctrines:

  1. Two kinds of Christians.
  2. The oil is the Spirit baptism.
  3. Wise are those with this baptism.
  4. Foolish are those without it.
  5. Born again people do not have the Holy Spirit.
  6. Rapture will take place at midnight or middle of the tribulation.
  7. One has to have the Spirit baptism to go in the rapture.
  8. Only those baptized in the Spirit will be at the marriage of the Lamb.
  9. Only those baptized in the Spirit will be in the bride of Christ.
  10. One is not saved until he receives the Spirit baptism.
  11. The door of mercy will be shut to the Gentiles after the rapture.
  12. The bride is the church.

From the Word the Truth Is:

  1. There is only one kind of Christian, the born-again Mt. 13:38-49; 18:3; Jn. 3:3-5; 2Cor. 5:17-18; Rom. 6:7,18,22; 8:1-13; Gal. 5:19-24; Eph. 4:24; 1Jn. 2:29; 3:8-10; 5:1-4,18; Heb. 12:14
  2. The oil here is not the Holy Spirit for He cannot be bought and sold or divided between people at their request. This no more refers to the Holy Spirit than oil in Genesis 28:18; 2Kings 4:1-6; Luke 7:46; 16:6; etc.
  3. Born-again people do receive the Holy Spirit, 3:5; Rom. 8:9-16 but not always the Spirit baptism which is another experience. Lk. 11:13; Jn. 7:37-39; 14:16-17; Acts 1:4-8; 2:38-39; 5:32; 8:15-16; 19:1-6
  4. The rapture will not take place in the middle of the tribulation, but before it for the church is the hinderer of lawlessness of 2Thessalonians 2:7 refer to the church being taken out of the world … And then shall that wicked be revealed who will be destroyed seven years later by Christ at His second coming. 2:7-8
  5. The Spirit baptism is for the endowment of power from on high to do the works of Jesus, 24:49; Jn. 7:37-39; 14:12; Acts 1:4-8 not to save the soul or to qualify one for the rapture.
  6. All Christians will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb, for all will go in the rapture.
  7. All Christians will be in the bride of Christ, which is the New Jerusalem and not the church. 21:2,9-10 Even Old Testament saints will be a part of the city. Heb. 11:10-16; cp. Heb. 13:14; Jn. 14:1-3
  8. The door of mercy will never be closed to Jews or Gentiles during the tribulation or any other time. Multitudes will be saved during the tribulation. Acts 2:16-21; Rev. 7:1-17; 12:17; 15:2-4; 20:4-6

LOOKING AT AN ORIENTAL WEDDING

In almost any book on Bible lands, their manners and customs might be found just such a description of an oriental wedding ceremony as given in this parable by Jesus. The bride was always accompanied by a certain number of virgins (in this case there were ten) to meet the bridegroom. The bridegroom and his friends went, usually by night, to bring the bride and her attendants to the home of the bridegroom. All along the route that the bridegroom and his friends took to get the bride, there would be crowds on the housetops or balconies who would take up the peculiar cry of wedding joy that told those further along that the pageant had started. The cry would give warning to those who were waiting with the bride that it was time to arise and light up the way of approach, and welcome the bridegroom with honor. Before the bridegroom started he received his friends who sometimes were late, and after that speeches of congratulations were made, and other honors were bestowed upon him and his family. Therefore, it was often near midnight before the bridegroom started for the bride.

Meanwhile, as the night wore on, and the duties of robing the bride and completing the house decorations, a period of relaxing and drowsy waiting set in and many would be overcome with sleep, as in the story Jesus gave. This period of drowsiness would be broken by the cries of the wedding procession of the bridegroom, and those in the home of the bride would rise and light candles or trim their lamps which had been burning all this time. In the case that Jesus mentions the lamps had been burning and five of them were getting so low that the virgins could not carry out their part of the wedding procession back to the home of the bridegroom, because they had to go first and get more oil. While they were gone to purchase more oil, the procession went on to the marriage place and the door was shut and locked for fear of robbers who might cause an interruption, rob and carry off jewelry, costly garments, or even the bride herself and hold her for ransom. The tardy virgins, who were anxious to join the concluding festivities of the wedding, finally came crying, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” could not, of course, be admitted, nor was their cry recognized by the bridegroom.

Jesus uses this story to illustrate watchfulness by those living in the kingdom of Heaven at His coming to the Earth to set up His kingdom. He warns people at the end of the age to be more watchful than these ten virgins, lest some of them should fail to be ready when He comes.

Thus, we see that this parable is just as understandable as any other one in the Bible if we consider the details of the illustration as necessary only to make the story complete enough to illustrate the point that is being illustrated.

The Parable of the Good Man of the House

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.  Mat 24:43-44 KJV

Jesus here illustrates the need for readiness in view of His return to the Earth at an unpredictable time, so that each individual will escape the “sudden destruction” that will overtake those who are not ready.

And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.  For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.  Luke 21:34-36 KJV

The feasts of the Lord Lev. 23 were given to Israel as illustrations and through them God was teaching the gospel to the world and because there was no written Word yet, they typified things to come.  Let’s have a look at the meaning behind each one:

Fulfilled

  1. The yearly Passover feast Lev. 23:4-5; Num. 28:16; Ex. 12:1-39. typified the crucifixion of Christ Matt. 27:32-56
  2. The yearly feast of unleavened bread 23:6-8; Num. 28:17-25; Ex. 12:8,15-20btypified the burial of Christ Matt. 27:57-61
  3. The yearly feast of firstfruits 23:9-14; Num. 28:26-31 typified the resurrection of Christ Matt. 28:1-10; 2Cor. 15:2-23
  4. The yearly feast of Pentecost Lev. 23:15-21; 28:26-31 also known as the feast of harvest Exo. 23:16 and the feast of weeks Exo. 34:22; Deu. 16:10 typified the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-4

Unfulfilled

  1. The yearly feast of trumpets Lev. 23:23-25; 29:1-6; typifies the rapture 1Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 4:1
  2. The yearly feast of atonement Lev. 23:26-32; 29:7-11 typifies the Second Coming of Christ Rev. 19:11-21
  3. The yearly feast of tabernacles Lev. 23:33-34; 29:12-40 typifies the 1000 year Reign Isa. 65:6-66:24; Rev. 20:2-7

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ 1Thess. 5:6-9 KJV

The Parable of the Householder

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:  And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.  And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.  But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.  But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.  And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.  When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?  They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.  Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.nAnd when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. Mat 21:33-46 KJV

The householder illustrates God the Father, who sent His Son into the world to redeem mankind. Mt. 21:37; Jn. 3:16; 15:1  The vineyard illustrates the kingdom of Heaven part of the kingdom of God, which was intrusted to the Jews, planted by God with the rich and fruitful vines of the knowledge of God, His commandments, the institutions of religion, and His revealed Word. Mt. 21:43; Mk. 12:1-9; Lk. 20:9-19; Rom. 3:1-2; 9:1-5 The hedge illustrates God’s watchful care and provision for the protection of the kingdom, so that it would be free from the intrusion of wild beasts which would spoil the vines and destroy the fruit. The winepress illustrates all the institutions and means of blessing for the human race. Winepresses were hewn out of solid rock. They usually consisted of two or three vats, each a little higher than the other, with troughs from one to the other. The grapes were put in the top vat, which was always the biggest, and two or more persons with naked feet and legs would jump up and down, crushing the grapes. The juice flowed into the next vat and from it would be drawn off into the next, or into vessels, leaving the dregs in the vats. The tower illustrates the place of dwelling where the workers of the vineyard could find rest and recreation and a place to store the fruit. These towers in literal vineyards were sometimes forty to fifty feet high, affording a place for the watchman to see the vineyard and protect it.

The husbandmen illustrate Israel who had charge of the vineyard to render unto the householder the fruit in due season. Mt. 21:45-46 There were two kinds of leases that could be had in the East. The tenant paid a money rent to the proprietor, or else he agreed to give the owner a definite amount of the produce, whether the harvest had been good or bad. Such leases were given by the year or for life; sometimes the lease was even hereditary, passing from father to son. The latter kind of lease is no doubt referred to in this parable.

The householder going away illustrates the long period that God permitted the nation to be ruled under the guidance of kings and prophets through the law. Acts 13:17-43  The time of the fruit illustrates the seasons that God expected results from the Jews in extending the kingdom among other nations and doing those things required to bring the knowledge of God to others.

The servants illustrate the Old Testament prophets, priests, and teachers whom God sent to get the Jews to render to Him the fruit of the kingdom. Mt. 23:37-39; Heb. 11:32-40  The son of the householder illustrates the Son of God, who was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. Mt. 10:6; 23:37-39; Jn. 1:11; 3:16; Acts 2:22-36  The maltreatment of the servants and the son illustrates the bitter hatreds and backslidings of Israel against God from the time in Egypt to the crucifixion of Christ. This is plainly recorded in 1 Ki. 18:13; 22:24-27; 2 Ki. 6:31; 21:16; 2 Chron. 24:19-22; 36:16; Jer. 37:138:28; Mt. 23:37-39; Acts 7:52; Heb. 11:36; Lk. 4:29; Jn. 8:37, 59; 10:31-39; 19:14-30.

The scheme of the husbandmen to seize the inheritance illustrates the reason for their rejection of the Messiah. They sinned against light. If Jesus was the Messiah and if He was introducing the kingdom of God, the whole spirit of which was different from theirs, then they would lose their places as rulers, as teachers, as men of influence, as well as their authority over the people and their chief business. They were so connected with a system and with wrong ideas, principles, and customs, which must pass away with the reign of the Messiah, that if Christ prevailed they must fall. They imagined that if they could destroy Christ, they could continue in their possession of the inheritance. They killed that they might possess, but killing was the shortest road to entire loss. Every possible method of leading them to right conduct had been exhausted; so judgment must fall. They pronounced their own judgment. Mt. 21:40-41 The destruction of the husbandmen refers to the cutting off of Israel and the destruction of their city and nation. Mt. 23:37-39; 24:2; Lk. 21:20-24; Acts 13:44-49; 18:6; Rom. 11:1-33

The central truths illustrated are stated in Mat. 21:42-44. The Jews at last saw the application of the parable and immediately went out unconsciously to fulfill it. There are three main truths illustrated by this story:

  • The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. 21:42; Ps. 118:22-23; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7 The cornerstone on which the superstructure rested was the most important stone in the building. The primary meaning in the Psalm about the rejected stone was taken from the great cornerstone that the builders of Solomon’s Temple left out because they did not understand the head architect’s plans. Afterward this stone was found to be that on which the completeness of the structure depended – on which the two walls met and were bonded together. The Messiah of these Jews was compared to this stone. Christ warned them not to make the same mistake that the builders of the Temple had made.
  • The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 21:43 This refers to the cutting off of Israel from being the ministers and people of God to carry out God’s purpose of evangelizing the world. Acts 13:44-52; 18:6; Rom. 11:1-33 The Gentiles have been the propagators of the Gospel throughout this Age of Grace.
  •  Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder  Mt. 21:44 This saying means that the individual who humbles himself and falls on the stone for mercy shall receive mercy and shall become broken in heart and spirit, Isa. 57:15; 66:1-2; Ps. 34:18; Mt. 5:3-7 but if he hardens himself against God, he shall receive judgment without mercy. The stone in this verse is the same as in verse 42. It refers to Christ, who is pictured as a stone in Scripture, in a threefold way:
  1. To Israel – He is pictured as a stumbling stone and a rock of offence, because He came as a lowly servant instead of a great world-monarch 8:14; Rom. 9:32-33; 1 Cor. 1:23; 1 Pet. 2:8
  2. To the Church – He is pictured as a foundation stone and the head of the corner 1 Cor. 3:11; 2:20-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-5
  3. To the nations – He is pictured as a smiting stone of destruction 2:34, 44-45; Lk. 21:24; Rev. 16:14; 19:11-21

Israel stumbled over Christ; the Church is built upon Christ; and the nations will be broken by Christ.

 

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  Mat. 18:23-34 KJV

This parable deals with the conduct of the members of the kingdom of Heaven in relation to one another. The purpose of the parable is to answer Peter’s question of verse 21, “How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Then He gave the illustration of the king and his servant to teach Peter that all members of the kingdom of Heaven must be merciful and forgiving or they would not be forgiven. “Seventy times seven” is 490 times a day, twenty times an hour or once every three minutes that we must forgive those who sin against us and ask our forgiveness. If the disciples said, “Lord, increase our faith,” when Christ told them that they would have to forgive their brother seven times a day, Lk. 17:3-5 what might they have said on this occasion when He told them they must forgive 490 times a day?

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Mat. 18:35 KJV

The story illustrates what God would do if a child of His would not from his heart forgive his brother. This verse is the sole truth being illustrated by the example of this particular king and his servant. Just as this king did not have mercy on his servant whom he had forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents ($19.2 million in silver – $290.85 million in gold), after the same servant would not forgive his fellow servant a debt of one hundred pence (about $17.00), so God will not have mercy on those in the kingdom of Heaven who will not forgive men from their hearts.

The application of this illustration is as follows:

  1. God cancels all the debt for penitent sinners as this king did for his servant Mt. 18:23-27,35; Mt. 12:31-32; 1Jn. 1:9
  2. God demands fair treatment between Christians Mt. 18:26-30,35; 5:38-48; 7:12; Rom. 12:9-21; 1Cor. 13
  3. God will not forgive unless man forgives his brother Mt. 18:35; 6:14-15; Mk. 11:25-26; Eph. 4:32
  4. All issues of sin and righteousness come “from the heart”. Mt. 15:18-19; Mk. 7:21-23; Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:6-10; 2Tim. 2:22; Heb. 4:12

I choose to forgive those who have wronged me so that I can always receive my Father’s forgiveness and be in right standing with God.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  Mat. 6:14-15 KJV

The Parable of the Scribe

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. Mat. 13:52 KJV

Christ, the householder, authorizes His disciples to be scribes and in this parable, the scribe is the individual follower of Christ, who is sufficiently instructed in the things of the kingdom of Heaven to have a treasure of knowledge of things both new and old. He is “like” an householder which has treasures both new and old to bring out for the benefit of those in need. This illustrates the mixture of old and new truths in the members of the kingdom of Heaven, which enables them to be ready for all emergencies in instructing others in the things of the kingdom of Heaven. Both old and new truths are good. Both are necessary and helpful if the disciple is to be a workman unto God, needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth in the realm of profession. Ministers must thoroughly understand truth and be able to disperse it abroad. “Things new and old” is a Jewish idiom of great plenty.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Mat 13:45-46 KJV

The kingdom of Heaven, is “like” a pearl, thus the “realm of profession,” which should always be understood in connection with things on Earth. The mystery of the kingdom of Heaven here is that of the true Church. The parable of the treasure exemplifies Israel in relation to the kingdom of Heaven. In that parable Israel is pictured with an earthly calling and hid in the world so that it had to be bought in order to get the treasure, but in this parable the pearl is bought without buying the world, for the calling of the Church is heavenly. The sons of God (the wheat) are the true children of the kingdom and make the present Church, but the sons of the devil (the tares), who profess to be children of the kingdom, are also in the “sphere of profession,” endeavoring to counteract God’s purpose in the kingdom. This parable emphasizes the fact that the Church is not the kingdom of Heaven. It is only a part of the kingdom of Heaven.

The man illustrates Christ, as in all the preceding parables. Mt. 13:3, 24, 37, 44 and the pearl illustrates the true Church that Christ gave all for in order to buy it and redeem it to Himself. Eph. 5:25-31  The great price illustrates the treasure of Heaven that God had to give in order to get the human race redeemed from the devil. Jn. 3:16; 6:51; 10:11, 18; 19:30; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rev. 5:6, 9; 12:11  Pearls are sometimes formed by the introduction of a foreign body, possibly a grain of sand, into the muscular structure of an oyster, which secretes a substance about the sand, layer after layer, until a beautiful pearl is formed. This is a wonderful picture of the gradual formation of the body of Christ. 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12-28; Eph. 2:14-22; 4:11-16; 5:25-31

For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.  1Cor. 10:17 KJV