Jesus told a parable and Matthew shared it with us in Matthew 21:33-44. You’ve probably read it before, but let’s read it again.
“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.”
“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”
They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
It seems obvious that the landowner is God and that He has provided a vineyard (verse 43 – the Kingdom of God), and provided for its care and for its fruitfulness. He has even found vinedressers (Israel the nation) who have agreed to tend His vineyard. The servants, who the landowner sent, were the prophets that were so wrongly treated by a God rejecting Israel. Finally the son of the landowner came. He too was rejected (verse 42 – the stone which the builders rejected) as the prophets had predicted he would be. The vineyard (the Kingdom of God) has now been taken from the wicked vinedressers (Israel) and given to others who will bring forth fruit for the landowner.
Christ’s Church; the congregation of true believers; those who have entered into the Kingdom of God (the rule of God); the Bride of Christ; the Body of Christ; the Saints; call them what you will. You know who I mean. These are now the vinedressers (to whom have been given the kingdom) bringing forth fruit for the landowner (God).
Notice that verse 43 says that the Kingdom of God was to be taken from Israel. The kingdom was taken from Israel as a nation but not from individual Israelites. Israelites – just like anyone else – can enter the Kingdom of God, the Church. But Israel the nation had rejected God’s rule and His Son. To be saved they must enter the Kingdom of God as all others do – through faith in the atoning work of God’s Son.
For too long we have been told that they, the Israelites, are special. They are not special now. They were called, as a nation, to bring forth the Messiah – the Christ. Even in their rebellion, God found a “remnant” through which He could perform His purpose. The Messiah has come. God’s special purpose for Israel is complete. Now His kingdom has been taken from them and given to the New Testament Church.
There are true believers in every nation and of every race. They are those who have shared in the atoning and delivering effects of the shed blood of God’s Son, Jesus the Christ. None are saved by their pedigree.