Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“God’s Expectation For Those Saved”
Today’s passage of Mark 12, takes place two days after the triumphal entry, one day after the cleansing of the temple, and after the religious authorities came and asked about his authority to “do these things.” It’s Wednesday and on Friday of the Passion week, Jesus will die, Jesus knows this, and even predicts what they are going to do.
The Target of the Parable (vv. 12:1a)
And he began to speak to them in parables.
“Them refers to the Sanhedrin as a whole. But even more, since they were representatives of the Jewish people and the entire system of Judaism, the lesson was designed as a condemnation of the whole. Of course, this does not refer to Jews who believed in Him.” Parables is plural, so Mark knew of other parables Jesus taught that day, but chooses to give only this one here.
With a parable, there is generally a broad teaching, moral, or idea and one should avoid trying to match up each detail with something. For, example the owner places a fence around the vineyard, does this refer to the law, keeping the Jewish people safe from the Gentile world, etc.? There is just no way of knowing. Also, another example is that the son of owner (Jesus) is left dead at the end of the story and to explain him rising from the dead would have taken away from the purpose of the parable. So, we are looking for a broad, overarching truth.
Also, “the parable helps explain two things about Jesus’ proclamation of the coming of the kingdom which his disciples found hard to understand. In the first place, they could not make sense of Jesus’ increasing emphasis on his own coming death: how could he announce the day of God’s glorious revolution and at the same time his own death? In the second place, they did not understand his failure to release Israel from the bondage of foreign imperialists. . . The disciples even ask in Acts 1:6, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The Contract Within the Parable (vv. 12:1b-11)
“A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country.
“A landowner had a plot of land and decided to plant grapevines on it. After he had planted the tender shoots of the grapevines, he protected it from wild animals such as foxes and boars (Song of Sol. 2:15; Psalm 80:13) by putting a wall around the vineyard. He also equipped the vineyard with a winepress and a watchtower.
The watchtower was used during the harvest as a lookout against thieves. The whole project was a financial venture for the landowner. While they would have waited for the harvest, the owner would support the farmers, buy manure and supplies for the vineyard, and hope that in the fifth year to have a profit.”
The owner of the vineyard provided everything needed for the tenants to be able to produce a crop from the vineyard, and the phrase, “went into another country” is intended to show the passage of time. “In the case of a new vineyard it would be at least four years before a crop would be harvested.”
In the owner’s absence, the tenants would cultivate the vineyard, prune the branches, and raise vegetable crops between the vines during the first few years. For the first few years the owner would have to support them. After those years of toil were past, the vineyard would be lucrative source of income for the owner.
There was an agreement that in due time, the tenants would pay the owner a portion of the crop.
2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.
Jesus is telling this parable to explain to the Jewish people, God’s covenant people, that God had provided a land for them, He brought them out of slavery, but there is a covenant between them – there is an expected return to God. There is freedom, but there is also an expectation of what they are to do with that freedom. In Exodus 19, notice the “if” and “then” with the covenant between God and the nation.
Exodus 19:4-8 “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.” They were to be a priest nation, a nation that brought the world to God.
3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.
Every time the owner of the vineyard sent someone to collect what was due, they mistreated this person. “The message which the owner received was that the tenants had no intention of paying the requested income of the grape harvest.”
And as the time went by, their treatment grew worse and worse, until they eventually killed even the owner’s own son. “Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ This is the agaoetos son, the only son. So, if we understand this parable to represent God’s people, then those sent to the nation were the prophets, who were calling God’s people to keep the covenant between them and God, and the owner’s only son is Jesus.
(v. 7) “and the inheritance will be ours” – the renter’s thinking eventually became so clouded that they started to think that they had some claim to the property. Their thinking seemed to be, that if there is no heir, then the property would go to them. Ultimately, their refusal to pay the rent, and the abuse of the servants, and death of the son all point to the renters wanting to own the land and keep all crops to themselves.
This parable is mentioned in three of the gospels, and in the other two accounts the son is cast outside the vineyard, and then killed. They initially admitted him into the vineyard, but in order not to defile the vines with blood, they killed him outside the vineyard. (following the law in minor ways, while ignoring the major ways). In their minds it’s acceptable to kill a person to maintain their lifestyle, but it is not acceptable to kill him where the victim’s blood may ceremonially contaminate the land they are trying to steal.
“It is the story of God sending first the prophets and then Jesus to the people of Israel, patiently calling them to ‘bear fruit. It is the story of their violent rejection of that call, culminating in the killing of Jesus; and it is the story of God taking action to punish Israel and “to give the vineyard to other.” Jesus sees himself as God’s last and decisive messenger to the people.
9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
(v. 9) “What will the owner of the vineyard do?” – The owner’s son has been killed, all of the servants that that been sent have been abused or killed, so the owner Himself must now come and reclaim what is His away from the squatters.
This marks the end of the redemptive plan for the world through the nation of Israel. Now, it will be Christians who will take up this responsibility to share God’s plan for redemption with the world. Israel has refused to be the instrument of salvation to the world.
“Jesus’ parable offers hope for a new beginning.” The vineyard doesn’t go away, but it is the renters who will be replaced. Those who are expected to produce a crop for the owner will be replaced. So, who is the new renter? The spiritual leadership of Israel were done, they would be judged, and Jesus’ disciples were going to be given an opportunity to make the vineyard fruitful in such a way that honors the owner.
(v. 10) Jesus is quoting Psalm 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” which describes builders who rejected a stone – as they were looking at stones to build with, they threw one away – that would become the key to what God was constructing. In masonry the cornerstone, set the orientation and gave true lines for the rest of the building. The one rejected, has become the most important stone of all.
Jesus is not abandoning God’s plan for the redemption revealed through the Word of God in the Old Testament, but is bringing that plan to fruition. He is closing the book of the Old Testament, and beginning a New Testament – a new covenant.
The church must remember that we have been given stewardship of the gospel. When we commit ourselves to Christ, it is also a commitment to His church, and the church has a responsibility to “produce fruit” in keeping with the gospel.
Romans 10:14-17 “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
The Reaction to the Parable (vv. 12:12)
12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.
“Why did they so requite the mercy of God? Not because there was no record to teach them, for all history cried aloud, “This is the way.” Not because they lacked the power to discriminate between good and ill; for they confessed, “This is the heir,” and then straightway forswore their noblest conviction. Self-will was their curse. They resolved that the garden of life should be theirs – theirs for gain, theirs for fame, and not God’s for worthy manhood. “Let us keep the inheritance.”
So from the parable we can draw three major points:
1) God is patient and longsuffering in waiting for His people to bear the fruit which he requires of them, even when they are repeatedly and overtly hostile in their rebellion against him. Are we expected because of our salvation (freedom from sin) to do something? God entrusts all people with abilities and resources, and He expects them to be good stewards of what has been given to them.
John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Tennyson said, “The fields – the human fields – are white already unto harvest.” The demand of God is that this little plot of earth shall produce an industry that blooms like a garden, homes that are ripened grain, souls ever “wearing the white flower of a blameless life.” Matthew 28: “Go and make disciples . . .”
2) A day will come when God’s patience is exhausted and those who have rejected him will be destroyed.
3) God’s purposes will not thereby be thwarted, for he will raise up new leaders who will produce the fruit the original ones failed to provide.
 Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Four Gospels, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1970) 187.
 David Wenham, The Parables of Jesus (Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press, 1989) 125.
 Simon Kistemaker, The Parables of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House, 1980) 90.
 R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark, A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Company, 2002) 459.
 Kistemaker, 90.
 Kistemaker, 91.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 732.
 Wenham, 127.
 Mt. 21:42; Rom. 9:32f; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6ff. Also, Acts 4:10.
 See Isaiah 5:1-7.
 France, 456.
 George A. Buttrick, The Parables of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House, 1979) 220.
 Craig L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables (Downers Grove, Illinois; Intervarsity Press, 1990) 249.
 Alfred Tennyson, in the “Dedication” to “The Idylls of the King.”