The Gospel of Mark Chapter 12:1-17 Israel Chosen and their Rejection of the Messiah 1 - 12. This parable of the vineyard that Jesus told is based upon Isaiah 5: 1 - 7 and so the people, particularly the religious leaders, would almost immediately realize the truth that He was bringing out in it. 12.1 Then he began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey. The certain man refers to God and the vineyard to the land of Canaan, the Promised Land that God said He would give to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 12: 6 -7). Although it was many years and a few generations later that the promise was fulfilled, God kept His word (2 Peter 3: 8 - 9) and the people possessed the land that God had prepared (planted) for them. If we have received a promise from God we can be sure that He will keep it no matter how long it may take. The “edge about it“ is the Divine protection; the angel of the Lord was encamped round about it (Psalm 34: 17) and was as a wall of fire (Zec. 2: 5). God is also the Divine Protector of every believer (Psalm 91: 4). The hedge also speaks of separation for God had separated them to Himself to be a holy people to keep His laws and to walk in all His ways (Lev. 20: 26). As believers we are separated to God through Jesus Christ and are called to separate ourselves from the things of the world (2 Cor. 6: 14 - 17). We are a holy nation and are to be holy (1 Pet. 1: 16, 2: 9). The “wine press (winefat)“ is the Temple where the people were to bring the fruit of the vine (spiritual) to be made into wine (spiritual) that is their devotions, thanksgivings and offerings, etc. The “tower“ (a place of observation and defence) represents Jerusalem. He “let it out“ that is God gave the Land His laws and statutes, His protection, His promises, to the Israelites as stewards to work for Him. Then He left them to care and keep it and bear forth fruit until He should come again. As Christian’s we are called to be good stewards of that which Christ has entrusted us with until He comes back again (Luke 19: 13, 1 Cor. 6: 20, 1Pet. 4: 10). However, Israel did not keep the covenant God had made with them for the possession of the land. They broke His laws and mixed with the heathen left in the land and served idols.
12. 2 - 5. At harvest time he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his portion of the crop. But those tenants seized his slave, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. So he sent another slave to them again. This one they struck on the head and treated outrageously. He sent another, and that one they killed. This happened to many others, some of whom were beaten, others killed. When it was the time of harvest the man sent forth His servants to receive from his tenants a proportion of the produce. He did not ask for it all although it all belong to Him by right for he planted it while they were entrusted with the care of it but they refused to hand it over and beat up the servant and sent him away empty handed. God in His mercy and longsuffering did not give up on his wicked people whom he had chosen and entrusted with His Word but sent His prophets to them time and time again but they did the same to them as these tenant farmers even to killing them (Heb. 11: 36 - 37). Through the prophet Malachi (Malachi 1) God complains of Israel's ingratitude. When God said to them “I have loved you” they asked Him “wherein have you loved us”. He asked them “where is my honour, where is my fear, why do you despise my name”? They asked Him “wherein have we despised your name”? They offered Him the blind, lame and sick animals as sacrifices and polluted bread instead of giving Him the best. God asked "will a man rob God”? Yet you have robbed me. They replied "wherein have we robbed you?" He said "In tithes and offerings" (Malachi 3: 8). 12.6. He had one left, his one dear son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' Finally he sent his own beloved son thinking that they would show respect for him. God sent forth His only begotten and beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 1: 1 -2). For if these people were sincere in their worship of God the Father as they professed to be then surely they would respect and honour His Son. 12.7 - 8. But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and the inheritance will be ours!' So they seized him, killed him, and threw his body out of the vineyard. When the son came they assaulted and killed him. Although the Jews recognized Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the one to whom all power and authority had been given and in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt, they rejected Him (John 1: 11). They took Him and had Him crucified outside the city walls so that they may keep the inheritance for themselves. 12.9 What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others. In this parable Jesus asks the searching question of his listeners “what would the owner do to those who killed his son”? Because of Israel's rejection of the Messiah they were cut off and blinded to receive the salvation that He came to give (Rom. 11: 7) and through their rejection a way was made for the Gentiles (nations) to receive salvation (Rom. 11: 15). This blindness of the Jews will remain until the full number of the Gentiles (nations) are gathered in (Rom. 11: 25). 12.10 - 11. Have you not read this scripture: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
These verses are a quotation from Psalm 118: 22. The builders are Israel and the stone is the Lord Jesus Christ whom they rejected but whom God exalted (Phil. 2: 9, Rev. 5: 12). It is this exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ by God after he had been so ill treated by his own that is the marvellous thing meant. 12.12. Now they wanted to arrest him (but they feared the crowd), because they realized that he told this parable against them. So they left him and went away. The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized that He had spoken this parable against them, so they left Him and went away.
Rightful Ownership 13 - 17. 12.13. Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to trap him with his own words. The Pharisees and Herodians were bitter enemies but for the purpose of entrapping Jesus they joined together. 12.14. When they came they said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not court anyone's favor, because you show no partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?" First of all they commence by using flattering words. They certainly did not own Him as Master in their hearts but He was indeed the Truth (John 14: 6) the last thing they wanted to do was admit it this. They realized that He had no personal prejudice against any but that all are equal in His sight (Acts 10: 34). Although they acknowledged that His teaching was true and from God they did not accept it. Notice what they asked Him for they were indeed very crafty "Is it right to give taxes to Caesar?" They did not question the giving of the Temple Tax for they knew that whatever His answer to that may be it would not break the Roman law and therefore they could bring no charges of rebellion against Him. 12.15. But he saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, "Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." Jesus knew what they were about and saw through their hypocrisy and tells them so. Although it may seem insignificant the fact that He asked them to produce the coin is important for although they were Jews they were using the coin of the realm of Rome for their business transactions. 12. 16 - 17. So they brought one, and he said to them, "Whose image is this, and whose inscription?" They replied, "Caesar's. "Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were utterly amazed at him. The answer lay in the markings on the coin. Whose head and whose name were engraved upon it -Caesar's. Therefore, although the value of the coin may not be Caesar's the actually coin belonged to him for he had it made and therefore it was his by right. Whose image do all humanity bear; whose likeness were we made in and who made us? (Gen. 1: 26). Then what should we give to God? (Rom. 12: 1).
© Derek Williams 2013 Bible Studies Online UK www.biblestudiesonline.org.uk You may copy, print or distribute our studies freely in any form, just so long as you make no charges. Sign up today for our FREE monthly Bible study magazine “Living Word” Scriptures taken from the NET Bible www.bible.org