Summary: Once, while helping out at my son’s soccer practice, a kid responded to my instructions by saying, “you’re not the coach.” Don’t you hate it when you get that response? What do you do then? In this message we see Jesus receive that kind of response. And
Once, while helping out at my son’s soccer practice, a kid responded to my instructions by saying, “you’re not the coach.”
Don’t you hate it when you get that response?
What do you do then?
A. Jewish Leaders question Jesus’ authority
Jesus is confronted by members of the three groups that represent the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court.
They question his authority to act as he has.
On what authority did he drive merchants out?
By his own authority (as a prophet)?
Commission by someone else?
Implication: He had no authority to act officially.
How will Jesus respond to this challenge? Let’s see as I read vv. 29-33.
B. Jesus asserts his authority
Jesus answers a question with a question – common rabbinical method, especially in debate.
Unique that he makes his answer entirely depend on theirs.
He links himself to John the Baptizer.
Whatever they decided about John, they will decide of him.
He limits their choices to 2: from God, or from men.
This puts them on the horns of a dilemma:
If they say “God,” then why didn’t they believe him?
If they say “men,” the people will turn on them.
So they plead ignorance. So he refuses to answer them.
Implied: his authority came from God, as did John’s.
Trans: Having asserted his authority, and turned the tables on these leaders, Jesus goes on to tell a parable – an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This is his response to their question. The parable is found in Mark 12, but I’ll tell it for you.
Read Mark 12:1-9
A. Jesus tells a parable
Tell the parable of the tenants, with explanatory elaboration as needed.
That is quite a story, isn’t it? What does it mean?
B. The parable pronounces judgment on those who reject Christ
Well, the gist of it is fairly obvious.
The tenant farmers receive judgment.
This parable is about judgment.
The meaning is connected to the context.
Jesus is being questioned, judged, by the leaders.
They understood this parable to be about them. Cf. v. 12.
They weren’t very happy about it, because they are the bad guys in the story – the tenant farmers who got judged.
Let’s run down the rest of the cast of characters:
The vineyard refers to the nation of Israel, the people of God. This is common: Cf. Isa. 5:1-2; Ps. 80:12, 13.
The owner, the man, is God. The man built and provided for the vineyard everything necessary for it to thrive. Verse 1 says “he put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress, and built a watchtower.” These all indicate the care and effort the owner went to to insure the success of the vineyard. God is the one who provided blessing and privilege for his people. He gave them choice land, his favor and protection, as well as his prophets.
The tenants, the religious leaders, were given the responsibility of oversight, and were expected to cause growth. They were accountable to the man. Having entrusted them with the vineyard, he goes on a journey. This reflects a typical setting in those days – Absentee landlords, who received a portion of crop as rent.
Israel’s leaders were expected to cause growth and maturity in the people. And they were accountable to God.
At harvest time, the man sends a servant to the farmers to collect the rent. But he is beaten and sent away empty handed. A series of servants are sent, but they are all beaten or even killed by the farmers. The servants sent by the owner represent the prophets, the messengers of God sent to his people. Throughout its history, Israel mistreated and killed God’s prophets. Elijah driven into the wilderness, Isaiah sawn in two, Zechariah stoned in the Temple, John beheaded.
Finally, the man sends his own son. Guess who he represents? That’s right – Jesus. The son too is killed. Jesus goes from history to prophecy and exposes their plot to have him killed.
The owner, of course, responds with justice. The farmers are killed, and the vineyard is given to others. Its a graphic picture of judgment on these leaders.
Jesus says you are in line with the leaders throughout history, given a tremendous opportunity and responsibility by God. But you rejected him, rejected all his messengers, and now you will even kill his son. As a result, you will be severely judged.
Within 40 years, it happened. The nation of Israel was decimated by the Romans. Their temple was completely obliterated. Their religious system, their leaders, completely disenfranchised. And the vineyard was handed over, to the Gentiles.