Summary: This teaching explains the fullness of the meaning of Jesus parable of the vineyard and its overall affect on Judaism and Christianity and the Kingdom of God.
MK 12:1 He 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 went away on a journey. (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 scripture: " `The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; (11) the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?"
It is apparently still the third day after Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem and He was still teaching in the temple right before the watchful eyes of the religious leaders who sought to kill Him.
This powerful parable is spoken right at the Jewish religious leadership and caused them to become very angry at Him. It also explains why Israel is in the position it is in today.
Jesus tells the parable but it is based strongly on the Old Testament and the old covenant. To get a full understanding of it one must go to Chapter 5 of Isaiah and read and understand what is being said through the prophet there. Once we grasp what Isaiah said in Chapter 5 the interpretation of this parable becomes simple and we will understand why it so angered the Jewish religious leaders.
First let’s hear the voice of the prophet Isaiah from Isaiah Chapter 5.
Isaiah 5:1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. (2) He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. (3) "Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. (4) What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? (5) Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. (6) I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it." [Now, here is the most important of this prophecy because it identifies who Jesus is speaking about in Mark 12:1-11] (7) The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
Once we realize the prophecy that is made in Isaiah Chapter 5 we will understand that Jesus is telling the religious leaders that this prophecy has come true and it happened on their watch.
So the keys from Isaiah Chapter 5 are:
1. The vineyard in the parable represents Israel.
2. The farmers/vinedressers/husbandmen in the parable represent the religious leaders of Israel.
Now let’s begin to dissect Mark 12:1-11. I think you will find it relatively easy now.
Verse 1a. God set aside for Himself the nation of Israel- he prepared it well so that it would prosper and produce fruit.
Verse 1b. God put it into the hands of the Priests and Levites and expected fruit acceptable to God from them.
(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.