The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 12A

Chapter 12:1-12

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  • Tonight, I want to pick up where we left off in last week’s teaching.

    • I believe this pick-up point is a great starting place to understand the Parable that Jesus will use after intense questioning from the religious leaders.

      • We left off with Jesus providing a counter-question to the Sanhedrin council’s question of who Jesus’ “credentialed” authority came from.

      • And Jesus’ counter-question addressed this matter of authority, head on.

      • His question to them was: “Of what origin was John the Baptist’s ministry? Was it of Heaven or of men?”

    • To put it plainly: From whom does Sovereign truth come from? Is it from God or is it from man?

      • For, by accepting John’s ministry, it pointed to the reality that it is God’s authority by which his ministry was accomplished.

      • And with John pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God, it meant that Jesus’ very ministry was authorized by God, for it was His Sovereign plan.

    • Therefore, disregarding or denying John’s ministry, by default, concludes that these leaders saw themselves as sovereign, in their own right.

      • And because of their conclusion, it not only led them to be self-condemned, but would eventually bring on greater judgement for Israel, nationally, for that generation.

    • For when one suppresses truth, truth to that individual becomes subjective and therefore everything becomes relative to “their” truth.

      • However, the last time I checked, having read through the scriptures, there is only Absolute Truth and that has been established by God Himself.

      • God’s truth and His word does not need our assistance because His truth stands on its own. (Isaiah 40:8 “grass withers, the flower fades…”)

    • So, what we can conclude from this is, regardless of how much Christ made Himself known to the religious leaders, they would remain in their unbelief.

      • This is why Jesus constantly emphasized the disciples’ need to be dependent on the Father.

      • Their dependence was vital to the mission of the Kingdom Program moving forward.

    • For if they did not recognize the need of dependence, they would be just like the Pharisees, decorated with credentials, knowing Jesus, yet fruitless in their impact for Jesus, missionally.

      • So tonight we will see how Jesus moves this conversation from a private confrontation with the religious leaders, to public teaching to a crowd in the temple.

    • If I were to outline for us a flow of thought in tonight’s teaching, it would be the following:

      • 1. A Parable Given (v.1-8)

      • 2. A Question Asked (v.9-11)

      • 3. A Fear Kindled (v.12)

    • I would like to tag tonight’s text: “The Parable of the Tenants”

      • With that being said, open up a copy of your scriptures and meet me in Mark 12:1-12.

Mark 12:1 And He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 
Mark 12:2 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. 
Mark 12:3 They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 
Mark 12:4 Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 
Mark 12:5 And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. 
Mark 12:6 He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 
Mark 12:7 But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ 
Mark 12:8 They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 
Mark 12:9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. 
Mark 12:10 Have you not even read this Scripture:
‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
Mark 12:11 This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
Mark 12:12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.
  • Let’s Pray.

  • So, it is off of the heels of an intense conversation regarding John and Jesus’ authorization of ministry, that Jesus furthers His conversation amongst the crowd as He directly address the Pharisees using a Parable.

    • As a reminder, when Jesus uses parables, it is a teaching moment meant to make a very clear point enigmatic in an effort for the people to come to the spiritual reality themselves, by way of divine illumination.

      • And as we will see, three points will be made:

        • 1. A particular message

        • 2. A clear picture

        • 3. A revealed Spiritual truth

    • We will begin with the content and context of the Parable as being described historically, first.

      • So, Jesus begins the parable, in verse 1, with a man who planted a vineyard.

      • And within this vineyard, he placed a wall all around it, dug a vat under the wine press, and built a tower.

      • And the owner allowed his land to be rented out to vine growers (workers).

      • So, let’s examine the historical implications of the parable.

    • Within the Roman Empire and much throughout the Galilee, most of the land was owned by wealthy landowners.

      • These landowners would typically rent out their land to “tenant farmers” for the purposes of further cultivating their land.

      • And in exchange, the owner would allow the workers a portion of the produce for themselves, while collecting his own portion.

    • With any type of cultivation of the land, the owner would provide the means for proper productivity for his land.

      • Within the owner’s provision, he provided a watchtower in the center that served as protection to spot intruders.

      • It’s clear that the owner of this vineyard invested well into his land so that it will yield great produce.

    • Because of the vastness of land, he would hire out workers to tend to the land.

      • Therefore, these workers served as mere custodians (stewards) of the land and not owners of the land.

    • These custodians have not invested in any parts of this land, they do not own the land, they simply serve as stewardship managers.

      • The workers were responsible for stewarding well what was provided to them and to care for the land and its yielded produce.

    • As a result, if the workers do their jobs, not only did the owner profit from his land, but they in turn benefited from their labor with a portion of the yield.

      • However, something happens between the terms being outlined in verse 1 and the actions of the workers throughout the Parable.

    • The workers of the land become self-deceived in thinking that they were the owners of the vineyard.

      • Rather than yielding to the owner what is rightfully his.

      • They take the liberty of withholding his portion as if it were their own. (Pride)

    • So, in an attempt of the owner to retrieve his portion, he sends several servants to retrieve what was rightfully his.

      • However, on multiple occasions each slave sent to retrieve the owner’s portion is met with opposition.

      • If you notice the intensity of treatment and disdain increases to the point that it leads to the death of one of the slaves.

    • So in a last effort to appeal to the workers of the owner’s land, the owner sends his son. This is done to demonstrate to the workers the weightiness of the matter.

      • Up to this point, the owner has been more than gracious in tolerating the blatant disregard of his request over a period of time.

    • One would assume that with the son coming to retrieve the father’s belongings that much respect and honor would be given.

      • Unfortunately, the sending of the son provides an opposite response.

      • They reason among one another to kill the son so that the ownership of the land would be transferred to them instead.

      • If anything, this shows us the deliberate deceit and darkness of their hearts.

      • Now, before we look at the questioned posed within the parable, let's seek to understand the parable with spiritual lenses.

    • As we examine the parable, we see the landowner represents God the Father, who has planted a beautiful vineyard that represents Israel.

      • God has made Israel a people for Himself.

      • He planted them in a land that was fertile and prosperous.

      • He was their strong tower and fortress in whom He would provide them security.

      • He also allowed His people to be plentiful in the sight of all the peoples of the world.

    • The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 5:1-2 provides us with a strong comparative passage in which he paints a clear picture of the parable Jesus has provided.

      • Check out the text:

Isaiah 5:1 Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
Isaiah 5:2 He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.
  • So, Isaiah tells us plainly who the vineyard owner is, it is the Father’s vineyard.

    • And Isaiah states that the purpose of the vineyard was to produce good spiritual fruit.

    • The spiritual fruit was to be godliness and obedience to the Law of God (His Word) from the people of God (Israel).

    • Unfortunately, the fruit that Israel produced was constant rebellion and disobedience, rather than submission and dependence.

    • A question that arises is: “Why did Israel fail to produce good fruit in the land?”

      • Well Jesus’ parable provides us with the answer.

      • It is because the custodians or workers of the land failed to do their job.

    • As we further work through the parable, we see that the custodians of the land reflect none other than the religious leaders of Israel, their kings, and teachers.

      • These are the individuals meant to steward and lead the people into proper righteous living as a nation.

    • If we were to take a survey of the Old Testament, time and time again, we see Israel’s leaders’ blatant disregard for God’s commands and ways.

      • Where the kings and leadership should be submitting to the Lord and His instructions for Israel, they submitted to their own desires and plans.

    • Once again establishing the true value system of the nations’ heart.

      • To further press the point, check out what Ezekiel had to say regarding the shepherds of the people in his day: (Ezekiel 34:1-6)

Ezekiel 34:1Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 
Ezekiel 34:2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? 
Ezekiel 34:3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. 
Ezekiel 34:4 Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. 
Ezekiel 34:5 They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 
Ezekiel 34:6 My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’”
  • The shepherds of Israel were not doing their job which was to truly shepherd the hearts of the people to their Owner, Yahweh.

    • Instead of leading the people to dependence upon the Lord they led the people to dependence upon their leaders and into disobedience to God.

    • This deceit and wickedness from the leaders carried on for centuries on end. The people truly needed a shepherd after God’s own heart.

      • This further proving that God Himself would need to intervene on behalf of His people.

    • So, where we observed the owner sending multiple slaves to receive his harvest, this speaks to the mercy and grace that the Father extended to Israel’s leaders to repent, time and again.

      • Well this begs another question regarding the slaves within the Parable: “Who were the slaves representative of?”

    • As with the multiple times the owner sent slaves to tell the workers of the master’s request, so did the Prophets of the Old Testament speak repeatedly to the leadership of Israel and the people to repent and turn back to Yahweh.

      • But, because of the failure to turn to God time and again, destruction would be their end.

      • Isaiah speaks to this point in the same context of Isaiah 5:3-7. Check out the text:

Isaiah 5:3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
Isaiah 5:4 “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?
Isaiah 5:5 “So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
Isaiah 5:6 “I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
    • So within these few verses of Isaiah, we see 2 things:

      • First, who the vineyard and the produce were in parallel with Jesus’ parable.

      • Secondly, the comparative destruction that Isaiah prophesies and Jesus foretells to that generation.

    • Verse 7 of Isaiah shows us that the vineyard is in fact Israel and the fruit of that vineyard was Judah, the people of God.

    • The destruction, then, that the Lord spoke to Isaiah in His day, would be the eventual invasion of Assyria and Babylon, leading Israel into 70 years of Exile.

      • And yet again this eventual means of discipline was preceded by several warnings from Prophets speaking to the need of the leaders of Israel and the people to repent and turn back to Yahweh.

    • So, what we see Jesus do in Mark 12 in using Isaiah 5 is that He is contextualizing the same matters of Israel’s corrupt leaders then with the very leaders of Israel in His day, now.

      • Nothing has changed, but with His arrival on the scene, the stakes become even greater because now God, the second Person of the Trinity, has come down to provide the very means of mercy before judgement.

    • And in the same way that the workers in the parable kill the son, we see the same parallel regarding the coming death of the Son of God, by the hands of Israel’s leaders.

      • Now, with any owner who has been done wrong, justice must be served as the owner cannot stand idly by without a proper response.

    • Doctrinally, what we see expressed in the text, as a side note, is the need for God’s Divine Justice. (Isaiah 5:5)

      • God, because of His nature, cannot overlook the injustices committed against Him, therefore it requires that He responds righteously towards it.

      • In turn, it prompts Jesus to ask a pressing question in verse 9. (Divine Justice)

    • In Mark’s gospel, it seems as if Jesus responds to His own question, however, within Matthew’s gospel, He invites the people to respond.

      • Check out the question Jesus asks in verses 9-11:

Mark 12:9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. 
Mark 12:10 Have you not even read this Scripture:
‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
Mark 12:11 This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
  • This question places onus on an action from the owner and how he chooses to respond to this matter.

    • It becomes apparent from Jesus’ correspondence within Matthew’s gospel that the crowd, including that of the religious leaders, responds to the question.

      • In Matthew’s account the crowd answered that the owner should bring about punishment to the tenants of the vineyard and give the vineyard to others who will care for the land and obey the owner.

      • However, in Mark’s Gospel this is a pronouncement that Jesus Himself makes.

    • It’s not by happenstance that the crowd, particularly the religious leaders, respond to this question.

      • Their response to this question would be deemed a “personal” one.

    • An interesting detail from history is that the religious leaders, having been a part of a particular social status, were oftentimes landowners themselves.

      • So, in this instance they were able to sympathize with the owner of the story, in a way by saying condemnation must be brought to the workers.

      • However, they hadn’t quite realized the full impact of the parable yet.

    • For the reality was the religious leaders were the workers of that parable and unknowingly were casting judgement upon themselves.

      • For the punishment that would come upon Israel, because of their unbelief, would result in the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70.

    • It wasn’t until verses 10-11 that the parable began to come to a head as Jesus provides Messianic overtones speaking regarding His coming death and that generation’s coming destruction for rejecting Messiah.

      • Jesus, quoting from Psalm 118:22-23, says these words:

        • “Have you not even read the scriptures: ‘The Stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is Marvelous in our eyes’.”

    • Jesus referring to Himself as the Messianic “Stone” spoke to both a national implication and an individual exhortation.

      • Nationally, it spoke to the Kingdom and its King, promised to Israel, being withheld from that generation because of their rejection of Messiah due to their leaders’ hardened hearts and misguided ways.

      • And because of the rejection of Yeshua, it would ultimately lead to Jesus’ death in the coming days and Israel’s destruction in AD 70, yet there would be an opportunity for Israel’s future generation.

      • For Israel’s future generation, because of Christ becoming the Chief cornerstone, and their trust in Him, they will produce fruit in the end.

      • This future generation will be those Jews in the tribulation period.

    • It also speaks to Jesus, individually, because through Him, His ministry, and work, He would become a “point of division between the remnant of Israel and the non-remnant.”

      • Along with that, He would be considered a “stone of stumbling” and a “rock of offense” for the unbelieving Jew.

      • Therefore, the vineyard would be given to “others” with Him being the foundation of it all.

    • The question that you might be asking is: “Who are the “others” in whom the vineyard will be given to as workers?”

      • Remember, Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, but through Him all the Nations would be blessed, therefore the next workers of the field would have to be Jewish and, in their working, it would produce bountiful fruit.

    • Therefore, we can conclude that the vineyard will now be given to the Apostles in the church age for the purposes of spreading the Gospel and proclaiming Christ and Him crucified.

      • And from the ministry of the Apostles, not only will there be a remnant of Jewish people who have placed faith in Yeshua, but Gentiles will also come into the fold. (Church Age)

      • And at a future day Israel, nationally, will respond and accept Messiah by proclaiming the Messianic Psalm, Psalm 118:26a.

Psalm 118:26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
  • We must always remember, salvation is for the Jew first, then for the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

    • Therefore, Israel will never be replaced by the church, for God has a distinct plan for Israel and a distinct plan for the church.

    • What becomes so beautiful in these last 2 verses, is verse 11 speaks to the sovereign work of God’s plan despite the constant opposition of the leaders of that day. (Psalm 118:23)

      • Check out by whom will establish and fulfill this salvific and glorious plan – The Lord will.

      • Friends, there is nothing and no one that can thwart the plans of God!

      • Check out our last verse for tonight, verse 12.

Mark 12:12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away
  • Well, it's verse 12 that we see the religious leaders became a bit perturbed – they knew something they didn’t know before.

    • Matthew’s account tells us in Matthew 21:45 that the crowd and the leaders understood who Jesus was talking about regarding the parable.

      • This was different for the religious leaders as the parables were meant to disclose the information that Jesus is teaching to bring individuals to the truth themselves.

      • This is all the more pointing to a full disclosure of Jesus’ Person and their eventual confronting of this Messianic truth – Jesus is God.

    • Can you imagine that moment, how intense it probably was? If there was a pair of scissors, you could probably cut the tension in the air.

      • Where you would think repentance should have been the proper response of the religious leaders, it only furthered their desire to kill Him.

      • The text mentions they were seeking a way to seize Him; however it was not the “opportune moment”.

      • The reason being was they feared the people because of Jesus’ earlier statement regarding John’s ministry, who the people deemed as a Prophet. (Zealot revolt and uprising was not ideal for religious leaders)

    • So, to diminish and discredit John’s ministry was to discredit Jesus’ ministry which ultimately points to a denial of God’s power, authority, and plan.

      • However, the truth would not be hidden for long for the proof of who Jesus was would soon be demonstrated before all.

      • And his resurrection would be the receipt of what He had been sharing all along.

    • However, the question that would have to be addressed is: “Will their hearts be opened by the evidence of the resurrection or will they continue to deny truth when it’s plain as day?”

      • As I mentioned last week, you can choose to suppress the truth, however, there will be a divine reckoning in the end.

      • You will either submit to the truth of the Transcendental One or you will cower to the corners of your own calloused heart with no hope.

    • If we see anything from the constant rejection of truth, it is the reality that destruction will follow in the end.

      • Will you trust God as the Eternal One, or will you place your trust in self?

      • For there is only One Truth that can be trusted that has been tried and true.

      • Choose now this day whom you will serve.

      • Let’s Pray.