Lesson 63

The Gospel According to Mark

World English Bible translation

12:1 He began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, set a hedge around it, dug a pit for the winepress, built a tower, rented it out to a farmer, and went into another country. 12:2 When it was time, he sent a servant to the farmer to get from the farmer his share of the fruit of the vineyard. 12:3 They took him, beat him, and sent him away empty. 12:4 Again, he sent another servant to them; and they threw stones at him, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. 12:5 Again he sent another; and they killed him; and many others, beating some, and killing some. 12:6 Therefore he had yet one, a beloved son, he sent him last to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 12:7 But those farmers said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' 12:8 They took him, killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 12:9 What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others. 12:10 Haven't you even read this Scripture:

 'The stone which the builders rejected,
      The same was made the head of the corner.

 12:11 This was from the Lord,
      It is marvelous in our eyes'?"

Today's Lesson

In Yesterday's Scripture we read that the chief priests, scribes and the elders confronted Jesus and demanded to know by what authority Jesus performed miracles and taught the people. Instead of answering them directly, Jesus demanded that they answer a question. He asked them whether John the Baptist was a prophet from God or whether he had been just a man. His accusers were afraid to commit by answering either way. If they professed (as they truly believed) that John was not a prophet they would lose popular support. They could also not agree with the people that John was a prophet because they had not supported him in his ministry. Because they refused to answer His question, Jesus refused to answer their question.


Instead, he told them a parable that gave them the answer to their question. A man planted a vineyard and made all the improvements that would make it productive and valuable. He then rented it to a farmer and left the country. After the harvest he sent a servant to get his share of the fruit of the vineyard. The farmer beat up the servant and refused the landlord his rightful share. The landlord sent another servant and the farmer stoned him and treated him shamefully. The landlord continued to send servants. Some of these servants the farmer killed and others were beaten. Finally the landlord sent his only son and the farmer killed him and through the son out of the vineyard.


This parable is a thinly disguised allegory. In fact, Jesus obviously wants this story to be taken allegorically. The landlord represents God and the farmers are the nation of Israel whom God had blessed as His chosen people. The servants that were sent to collect the fruit of the harvest were the prophets. God kept sending His prophets and they were beaten and killed and their message was rejected. Finally now, in Jesus Christ, He sends His own Son. Even now the tenants were planning to kill the Son. Jesus understood the consequences of their rejection and even now He warns them of what will happen. "What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers, and give the vineyard over to others.


I heard a sermon recently that made a good point about this parable. We know that this parable should be interpreted allegorically because unlike most of the other parables, this one is patently unrealistic. No landowner would have continued to send servants over and over after the first ones had been treated shamefully. And certainly no landowner would have sent his heir alone and defenseless into such a situation. But that is exactly what God had done. Even though the prophets had been shamefully treated and uniformly rejected, God still sent His Son. Jesus came knowing that obedience would mean an early and horrible death.


Through this parable Jesus answers the chief priest, scribes and elders. The authority by which He acts is the same authority that sent John the Baptist and all of the other prophets before him. Even though they had beaten and killed His servants, God sent His only Son. The authority by which Jesus acted was the ultimate authority: God!


Do you recognize the authority by which Jesus acts? And, if you do, what will you do when God's portion of the fruit of your life is demanded?


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