What does this parable mean?
The owner of the vineyard - who planted it and then rented it out - represents the Supreme Being, who created everything. He created the spiritual and physical universes. And He manifested from Himself the living beings. Then He granted humans the freedom to self-manage ourselves within the physical universe.
The vineyard represents the physical universe, which we gain access to through the physical body. More specifically, the vineyard represents the human form of life - where one is presented with the choice to re-establish our relationship with God or not.
Just as the vineyard was on loan - being rented out - to the grape growers, this material world is on loan to those of us in human form. These physical bodies are on loan. Our families, job, possessions and so on are all on loan. We may occupy the physical body for a few decades and then we must leave it - along with its name and possessions. The body is not us - nor is it ours. Like a rental car that one drives during a rental period and then must be returned to the rental car company - this body has an expiration date, after which we must leave it behind.
The grape growers in Jesus' parable represents us - those of us who have been put into the material universe and have taken on these temporary human bodies. Just as the grape growers were allowed to rent the vineyard - we are able to utilize this physical body and the resources of the physical world.
The servants that the vineyard owner sent to collect the rent represent God's loving servants and representatives. The Supreme Being has been sending His representatives down to the physical world since the beginning of time, in an effort to save those who have risen to human form.
With each messenger the Supreme Being dispatches, we are provided with instructions that enable us to return to our home in the spiritual realm after the death of this body. These instructions prepare us to give our lives to the Supreme Being.
So if the grape growers had respected one of the owner's servants, they would have paid the owner the agreed-profits. This would have allowed them to stay in the good graces of the owner.
Paying the harvest rent to the owner in Jesus' parable represents one working to please the Supreme Being with this life. This is in essence, returning what is owned by God back to Him.
The son the vineyard owner sent to the vineyard represents Jesus. Remember that Jesus is not God's son in the same physical sense we consider sons and daughters of the physical body. This is a materialistic vision of the relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being.
The relationship between Jesus and God is much deeper than that.
Sons of God?
Remember what Jesus said about any of his disciples: If they became devoted to God - they would become translated to "sons of God."
Consider, however, some other uses of this phrase:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God." (Matt. 5:9 NKJV)
"nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection." (Luke 20:36 NKJV)Obviously, something is wrong with this translation to "sons" since "resurrection" cannot be a father. What is Jesus speaking of?
The Greek work being translated to "sons" is υἱός (huios). As described here, the word can mean son, but also subject, follower, servant and representative.
Thus, while Jesus' parable uses υἱός (huios) as a physical son of a daughter, this is representing one of God's confidential associates - one with an elevated position with respect to God. As for Luke 20:36, the Gospels of Jesus have more appropriate translation would be:
"For they cannot die anymore because they are spiritual and are the servants of God – being the subjects of the resurrection." (Luke 20:36)Certainly Jesus is God's confidential loving servant. This was illustrated by Jesus in his prayer before his arrest:
“O my LORD, if possible, please let this cup be taken from me - yet not what pleases me but what pleases You." (Matt. 26:36)Jesus is loving and wanting to serve and please the Supreme Being. Such a relationship of love is considered to be confidential in that it cannot be observed in the material realm. Certainly the results of that love and dedication can be observed in the actions of one who is loved by God. This was seen in the activities of Jesus. He committed his life to His beloved Supreme Being.
But the spiritual love that exists between Jesus and the Supreme Being cannot be seen by the physical eyes. That love can only be seen from within the heart by the mercy of the Supreme Being.
Being thrown out by the farmers
Thus we find that in Jesus' parable, he discusses how the owner sent his servants to the grape growers to get paid and each got hurt and thrown out. Then the owner sent his son and his son was murdered by the grape growers.
This is analogous to those stubborn people of the physical world who have refused to hear and understand the real teachings of the Prophets, Jesus and Jesus' students. They have ignored the attempts of God's representatives to teach us how to come to know and love the Supreme Being. And wicked people within the physical world have mistreated these Prophets and have killed Jesus.
One clear thing we can take away from Jesus' parable is that he is not ascribing to the principal teaching of the institutions that claim to be following Jesus: That the killing of Jesus' body somehow cleansed the world of sin and all we have to do is proclaim this and we are saved.
If this were true, then why did Jesus say at the end of his parable:
"What will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those grape growers and give the vineyard to others.”Yes, someone who persecutes the Representative of God will certainly gain the wrath of the Supreme Being. Why? Because there is a loving relationship between God and His representative - indicated by Jesus in his parable, with the relationship between the vineyard owner and his son.
It is not as if God planned this whole thing out - to have His beloved servant Jesus gruesomely persecuted so that that others would be freed of sin. How ridiculous is that?
The Supreme Being can forgive and cleanse us from sins just with a simple thought. He doesn't need to have His beloved representative be persecuted in order to save us. He is God. He can do what He wants. God is not obliged to any rules of sacrifice, wherein His representative must be sacrificed for us to be cleansed. This is simply hooligan speculation by those who don't know Jesus and don't know God.
Why did God allow Jesus to be persecuted then?
You see, God gives each of us the freedom to love Him or not. Without this freedom, we could not not truly love Him.
And in order to have such freedom, God also has to allow us the freedom to reject His representatives. If He interferes with that freedom to reject and even persecute His representatives, then there would also be no freedom not to love God.
Let's consider this with the land owner in Jesus' parable. If, for example, the land owner didn't want to give the grape growers the freedom to do the harvest as they saw fit and then pay him or not, then he wouldn't have rented out his vineyard to them in the first place. He would have simply employed his servants to pick the grapes. Then there would be no question about getting paid.
This is the crux of the parable: The owner rented out the vineyard. It was an arms-length transaction. He didn't have to rent the vineyard.
In the same way that the vineyard owner could have had his servants work the farm, God could have just made everyone like robots. And no one would have the choice to love Him. Everyone would automatically do His will without choice.
But God doesn't want robots. He enjoys loving relationships. So He created us with the choice to love Him or not.
And certainly if we choose not to love Him we can stay away from Him. This is why we can't see Him in the physical world. Because we chose not to love Him. So He is hiding from us. He has put a veil of the physical body over us - allowing us not to see Him.
This gives us the ultimate choice. We can even reject His very existence. Now that is freedom.
But this freedom doesn't mean the freedom of responsibility. The Supreme Being also designed the physical world with responsibility - both spiritual and physical.
This means there are consequences to our actions. Without consequences, there is no chance of learning. If we harm someone's body, for example, our body will be harmed - in this life or the next.
But if we harm the body of God's representative, that will have physical consequences as well as spiritual consequences. One who has rejected the Supreme Being to that degree that they would harm His loving representative will set their path in hell. They have rejected God to the worst degree, so their destination will be as far away from God as possible.
Hell is not in some remote place - it is all around us in the form of the lower species of life - which embody the lowest depths of hell. Just think of how hellish and scary life is in the body of a tiny bug: Surrounded by giant spiders and even larger creatures who chase you and squash your body. Now that is a scary hell.
The worst part of hell is that the souls who fall into such bodies will also lose any consciousness or remembrance of God. They will be covered by complete ignorance. This will essentially achieve their wishes to completely forget the existence of God. But they will also pay out the consequences of those actions made previously when they were within the more conscious human form of life.
Jesus doesn't want this to happen. He wants us to use this human form to decide to return home to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is where we will be happy - where we can live within the bliss of pleasing our Beloved God - our eternal Soul Mate. This is why Jesus' principal teaching didn't have anything to do with our being cleansed by his crucifixion. His principal teaching was:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)