SHOCK, BUT NO AWE
Father, I reverence the Son You sent into the world vineyard.
Read MARK 12:1–12
The Parable of the Tenants
12 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’[a]?”
12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.
a Mark 12:11 Psalm 118:22,23
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Ps 118:1).
Unless we are overly familiar with this parable, we cannot fail to be moved by it. Initially, we are shocked by the story Jesus tells (1–9). We are shocked at how the provision, protection, and patience of the vineyard owner are met by the wickedness of his tenants. We are shocked by the callous manner in which the tenants treat the owner’s beloved son. We become impressed because this parable – in which God is the owner, Israel is the tenants, the servants are the prophets and Jesus is the Son (Hendriksen, 1975, p474,477) – describes exactly how things have played out.
“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But instead the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him’” (6,7). Three days after issuing this parable, Jesus was dead. Take a moment to personally reconsider the horror of what the Son of God, our precious Lord, endured on our behalf. If shock is our reaction to the parable, then sadness is our response to its coda (10–12).
The Jewish leaders know their scriptures well. They can see that this parable (12), fingers them. This is yet another denunciation of Israel for her fruitlessness (Isa 5:1–7; Cole, 1995, p258). They know that they stand complicit alongside their ancestors who slew the prophets (3–5) (Luke 11:47–51; Cole, 1995, p258–259). They know that Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God and the Messiah by His reference to Psalm 118 (10, 11). Yet they refuse to respond by fearing God and falling on His mercy; instead, they pursue their plot to kill this hated rabbi – though they must reluctantly put it off for now because they fear the crowds and all the popular support for Him (12).
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:4, 5). Take time to fall again on God’s mercy and be thankful.
Lord, I am just another worker in the vast vineyard that is Yours by right of creation.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.