Matthew 21:33-44, JST Matthew 21:47-56 After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and his cleansing of the temple, Christ taught in the temple.  The chief priests and the elders of the Jews, asking by what authority he had done these things. His answer included this parable, with Joseph Smith’s addition in blue:

“And again, hear another parable; for unto you that believe not, I speak in parables; that your unrighteousness may be rewarded unto you:

There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?”

They [the chief priests and Pharisees] say unto him, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.”

Jesus saith unto them,  “Did ye never read in the scriptures, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”

And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. And they said among themselves, “Shall this man think that he alone can spoil this great kingdom?” And they were angry with him. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they learned that the multitude took him for a prophet.

And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them, “Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them? Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me. I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken. And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.) Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.”

And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof.

Whenever the harvest draws near, the husbandmen are visited by servants sent from the presence of the Lord.  The authority of these servants is derived from the Lord himself, not from the husbandmen.  They received their commission in his presence. Their duty is to do the Lord’s bidding, not to submit to the husbandmen.

The husbandmen’s success depends on their laying up fruit to be sent to the Lord of the vineyard.   To do this, they must follow the original directions given to them by the Lord of the vineyard, and they must receive the ministry of the servants when they are sent.  The sending of the servants is part of the plan. The husbandmen could be among those servants if they chose, simply by returning to the Lord and receiving instructions from him directly.

The pattern is presented: The husbandmen, jealous of the servants’ claims to authority,  exercise unrighteous dominion over them, beat one, kill another, and stone yet another.  Another group of servants is sent and meets the same fate.  Lastly the Son is rejected.

Those who know the difference between the prophetic and priestly will recognize this pattern well.  Prophets are typically called from outside the priestly hierarchy (Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Lehi, and others).  The few prophet-priests were the exception (Samuel, Jeremiah, John the Baptist) and they were still required to obtain fellowship with heaven to become servants instead of remaining mere husbandmen. Within the institution of the husbandmen, only those who are “regularly ordained” may tend the garden (DC 42:11).  Their devotion to their institution precludes their seeing that the Lord of the vineyard may call and send whom he pleases.

Those priests who suppose they have even a little authority will almost always exercise unrighteous dominion.  When they do so, they forfeit their priesthood and are left to themselves to persecute the saints, or sanctified ones (DC 121:38).  Being in bondage, they must obey the law of their master by persecuting the servants, just as the servants must obey the Lord of the vineyard (Alma 12:11). The husbandmen may be well-intentioned, pious, religious men, but their religion preserves only the form of godliness.   They will fail to teach the necessity of the power of godliness (bringing men and women into God’s presence in this life – DC 84:21-22) and will persecute those who do.

All are accountable for recognizing the difference between husbandmen and servants.  Learning to hear Christ’s voice is the first step in coming to know him (JS-H 1:40,  DC 1: 14 & 39).

This pattern was to be fulfilled first by the Jewish husbandmen at the time of Christ, and in the last days by the Gentiles.  Christ asserts that it will be gentile husbandmen who are destroyed in the last days, as the gospel returns to “other husbandmen,” meaning the unmingled remnants of the house of Israel (1 Nephi 13:42, 3 Nephi 16:10-12, 3 Nephi 21).

The identity of the gentiles in Joseph Smith’s prophetic writings is clearly established by his inspired coda to the parable. We are the husbandmen to whom God has given keys, commandments, and stewardship.  The Latter-day Saints are the Gentiles who are offered the gospel covenant in the last days (1 Nephi 13:34, DC 109:60). We claim to “know him”,  when we have only read and believed the experiences of others who do know him. In our boasting we are lifted up in pride above all nations: in other words, the gap between our grandiose claims to unassailable religious supremacy and our true estrangement from God is greater than that of all other people.

Our forebears were offered the knowledge of God in Missouri, Kirtland, and Nauvoo. They rejected it and it earned them cursing, affliction, and being driven into the wilderness (DC 124:44-48).  Our scriptures and ordinances continue to offer us re-entrance into God’s presence, and we reject it, to our condemnation.  We wallow in darkness and call it the light, crying ‘all is well’. Some read the Book of Mormon assuming the Mormons, or, more narrowly, the adherents to the mainstream LDS Church, have lost their identity as gentiles by baptism and submission to institutional and cultural norms of behavior.  This assumed identity allows them to comfortably sidestep the condemnation the book levels at the Gentiles for the way they treat the gospel when they are offered it.

The final rejection of the gospel by the gentile husbandmen in the last days precedes their destruction. It is through the resulting destruction  that the Lord will deliver the promised land back to the seed of Lehi, who will then build New Jerusalem, assisted by those gentiles who press forward to obtain promises from God (3 Nephi 21:11-24, 2 Nephi 10:7-9) .   These gentile kings and queens, born of many nations, who have received the fulness, are called “the fulness of the gentiles” (1 Ne 15:13, JSH 1:41, 3 Ne 16:4).

We should all (all mankind, but the covenant people especially) expect and welcome the ministry of servants sent to bring us into God’s presence. We should also expect the husbandmen to act according to their pattern by rejecting such servants. The nations of the gentiles (all flesh) are destined for destruction as well, but the destruction begins with the gentile husbandmen of our day, meaning those who profess to know the Lord, but don’t know him; those who are in the midst of his house, and who blaspheme him by their claims to authority:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face. Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.”   (DC 112:23-26)