(9) Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. (10) And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. (11) And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. (12) And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.Luke 20:9-12
Verse 9 makes it clear that this is a parable, and like every parable there are characters.
The first character in the story was a landowner, here called “a certain man that planted a vineyard.” This is the language of a parable. He planted a vineyard and leased it to some tenants. He then left for an undetermined, unspecific, long amount of time. He represents God in the story.
The next group of characters are the husbandmen. These were the people to which he delegated responsibility. They would have owed him because of their lease. It was not their land. It was his. This group represents religious leaders and others over the centuries that God sent prophets to who persecuted those people as we will see.
The next group of characters are the servants. These were those sent to the husbandmen by the landowner. Their job was to collect what was owed. The first servant was sent, and he was beaten by the husbandmen, and sent away without collecting the offering. Another servant was sent, and they beat him, too. They treated him viciously, and he was not given what was owed. The fact that Christ repeated what happened to the servants three times showed that this had happened often. It was vicious and wrong. In the story these servants represent prophets and judges that had been sent by God and were persecuted and even killed.
The prophets of God have given us several benefits.
1. We know the thoughts of God because holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.2 Peter 1:20-21
2. Part of how we know that the Bible is true is the testimony of the prophets coming true.
3. These men believed that it was God that revealed their message to them, and we know that because they were willing to endure suffering and rejection for what they said. Jesus told his disciples that if they hated and persecute Jesus, they would hate and persecute them as well.
(10) Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
(12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.Matthew 5:10-12
Take some time to thank God today for those who paid the price as God’s messengers to help us get the Word of God.