The Wicked Vinedressers
Matthew 21:33–46 (also Mark 12:1–12, Luke 20:9–19)
Hear another parable: There was a certain man, a householder, who planted a vineyard, and put a hedge around it, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went abroad. And when the time of the fruits was near, he sent his servants to the farmers to receive the fruits of it. And the farmers, taking his servants, beat one, and killed one, and stoned one. Again, he sent out other servants, more than the first; and they did to them likewise.
And last of all he sent to them his son, saying, “They will have respect for my son.” But the farmers, seeing the son, said in themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and have his inheritance.” And taking him, they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers? They say to Him, “He will destroy those evil ones with evil, and will let out the vineyard to other farmers, who will render him the fruits in their times.”
Jesus says to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures,
The stone which the builders rejected,
This has been made into the head of the corner.
This was made by the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes? (Psalm 118:22–23)
Therefore I say to you that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth its fruits. And whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they knew that He spoke of them. And when they sought to take hold of Him, they feared the crowds, since they held Him as a prophet.
Bringing forth the fruits of the vineyard
HH 533. That it is not so difficult to live the life of heaven as some believe can now be seen from this, that when anything presents itself to a man that he knows to be dishonest and unjust, but to which his mind is borne, it is simply necessary for him to think that it ought not to be done because it is opposed to the Divine commandments. If a man gets used to thinking this way, and from so doing establishes a habit of so thinking, he is gradually conjoined to heaven; and so far as he is conjoined to heaven, the higher regions of his mind are opened. And so far as these are opened, he sees whatever is dishonest and unjust, and so far as he sees these evils they can be dispersed, for no evil can be dispersed until it is seen.
A man is able to enter into this state because of his freedom, for is not anyone able, from his freedom, to think this way? And when man has made a beginning, the Lord gives life to all that is good in him, and causes him not only to see evils to be evils, but also to stop willing them, and finally to turn away from them. This is meant by the Lord’s words, My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. 11:30).
But it must be understood that the difficulty of so thinking and of resisting evils increases so far as man from his will does evils, for in the same measure he gets used to them until he no longer sees them, and at length loves them and from the delight of his love excuses them, and confirms them by every kind of fallacy, and declares them to be allowable and good. This is the fate of those who in early youth plunge into evils without restraint, and also reject Divine things from the heart.
The Stone which makes the head of the corner
HH 534. The way that leads to heaven, and the way that leads to hell, were once represented to me. There was a broad way tending towards the left or the north, and many spirits were seen going in it; but at a distance a large stone was seen where the broad way came to an end. From that stone two ways branched off, one to the left and one in the opposite direction to the right. The way that went to the left was narrow or confined, leading through the west to the south, and thus into the light of heaven. The way that went to the right was broad and spacious, leading obliquely downwards towards hell. All at first seemed to be going the same way until they came to the large stone at the head of the two ways. When they reached that point, they divided. The good turned to the left and entered the confined way that led to heaven, while the evil, not seeing the stone at the fork of the ways, fell on it and were hurt; and when they rose up they ran on in the broad way to the right which went towards hell.
HH 534:2. What all this meant was afterwards explained to me. The first way that was broad, in which many, both good and evil, went together and talked with each other as friends, because there was no visible difference between them, represented those who externally live alike, honorably and justly, and between whom seemingly there is no difference. The stone at the head of the two ways or at the corner, on which the evil fell and from which they ran into the way leading to hell, represented the Divine truth, which is rejected by those who look towards hell; and in the highest sense this stone signified the Lord’s Divine Human. But those who acknowledged the Divine truth and also the Divine of the Lord went by the way that led to heaven.
By this again it was shown that in externals, the evil lead the same kind of life as the good, or go the same way, that is, one as readily as the other. And yet those who from the heart acknowledge the Divine, especially those within the church who acknowledge the Divine of the Lord, are led to heaven; while those who do not are led to hell.
Questions and Comments
- In this parable, what is meant by the vineyard? The evil farmers? The servants sent to them? The son? The fruits? The cornerstone? A fruitful nation?
- Does it feel difficult to live the life of heaven? Is there any evil of which we cannot repent? Has the common idea of an honorable life broken down?