Parable of the Wicked Tenants

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By: Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy
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The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

Speaking in the Temple, the Lord Jesus Christ turning to the high priests, scribes, and elders of the people told them this parable.

There was a Landowner, Who planted a vineyard, set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country.

When the season of fruit drew near, He sent his servants to the tenants to get His fruit; and the tenants took His servants and beat one, killed the other, and stoned another. Again, He sent other servants, more than the first, and they did the same.

Afterward, He sent His only Son to them saying, “They will respect my Son.”

But when the tenants saw the Son, they said to each other, “This is the Heir. Come, let us kill Him, and have His inheritance.” And they took Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard, and killed Him.”

Having told the parable, the Saviour asked them, “When, therefore, the Owner of the vineyard comes, what will He do to those tenants?”

They said to Him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give Him the fruits in their season.”

The Lord Jesus Christ emphasized their answer, saying, “Therefore, I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation which will produce the fruits of it.”

Then, the chief priests and Pharisees with the elders understood that the Saviour was speaking about them. In a rage, they tried to arrest Him, but they feared the multitude because the multitude considered Him to be a prophet.

The explanation of this parable is thus: The Householder is God. The tenants are the Jewish people chosen by God to preserve the true faith. The hedges around the vineyard are the commandments of God given through Moses. The wine press where the juice of the grapes flows is the sacrifice in the Old Testament covenant prefiguring the death on the cross of Jesus Christ; the tower is the Temple in Jerusalem. The overseers are the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the Jewish people. The servants of the Householder are the holy prophets. The Son of the Householder is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Standing at the head of the Jewish people, the chief priests, scribes, and elders had received the power to prepare the people to accept the Saviour, but they used this power only for their own benefit. God sent prophets to them, but they persecuted and killed them. Thus, they turned out to be murderers of prophets and then murderers of the apostles. Their Saviour they rejected; and leading Him out from their city, they crucified Him. Therefore, the Kingdom of God was taken away from them and given to another people; the Church of Christ was opened to all nations.

(from: The Law of God
by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)