Summary: As Jesus continued in the Temple, He shared a parable with those present. He spoke of a vineyard, which revealed great significance for Israel, although they failed to see the truth. This was given specifically to Israel, but there is application for all.
The Verdict of the Vineyard
Mark 12: 1-12
In our text today, Jesus remained in Jerusalem at the Temple. These events took place during the days immediately leading up to His arrest and crucifixion on the cross. Following a challenge by the chief priests and scribes regarding His authority in ministry, Jesus offered this parable unto those who were present within the Temple that day, including the chief priests and scribes.
This parable focused on a vineyard, being planted by a certain man and leased out for others to take care of, harvesting the fruit it produced. The relationship between the owner of the vineyard and those who leased it was strained to say the least. While the owner had provided a profitable and beneficial situation for those who leased the vineyard, they were ungrateful and sought to take advantage of the owner’s kindness and provision.
This parable deals primarily with the nation of Israel; she is pictured as the vineyard, the Jews are revealed as the husbandmen who leased the vineyard, and God is the owner of the vineyard. Jesus revealed the state of affairs in Israel at that moment in time and how God viewed their commitment and obedience to Him. While this is given prophetically and practically to Israel at that moment in her history, there is certainly application for each of us today. As we examine the certainties within this parable, I want to deal with: The Verdict in the Vineyard.
I. The Description of the Vineyard (1) – And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. Jesus spoke of a particular vineyard. Consider:
A. The Details – A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower. Jesus revealed that the vineyard had been well planned and prepared for success. Those left in charge of the vineyard had everything needed to produce much fruit. We find the owner had taken care of:
Planting – The owner had planted a vineyard, choosing the location of the vineyard and what types of fruit and vines it contained. God had brought Israel out of Egypt’s bondage, planting them in a land of great abundance. They were blessed to have been planted there by God.
Protection – The owner had also set a hedge about the vineyard and built a watch-tower – both for protection of the vineyard. The hedge served as a barrier from anyone or anything that would bring harm, and the tower allowed for observation of impending threats. God had put a hedge about Israel, keeping her secure from her enemies down through the ages. She had suffered captivity, but God had preserved a remnant. He had provided faithful prophets throughout her history to warn of impending danger and direct Israel toward the Lord.
Provision – The owner also had dug a place for the wine-fat to be collected, producing the grape juice for consumption. He had created an environment for the husbandmen to be successful and enjoy the fruit of their labor. God had blessed Israel with a land that flowed with milk and honey, providing for them for generations. He had continually preserved them and met their needs. God had been faithful to Israel.
B. The Dependence (1) – and let it out to husbandmen. Once the vineyard was planted and established, the owner leased it out to caretakers to tend the vineyard and bring in the abundant harvest. He depended on these men to faithfully care for his vineyard.
Jesus was speaking primarily to the chief priests and scribes, those responsible for the spiritual well-being of Israel. God had entrusted the priests and prophets down through the ages to care for His vineyard, the nation of Israel.
C. The Departure (1) – A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. Having planted and provided for the vineyard’s success, securing able laborers, the owner departed and left them to their work. The owner had entrusted these men to care for the vineyard and fully expected them to be diligent in their labor.
The Lord had called and equipped men to care for Israel, particularly regarding their spiritual needs. He expected these men to use their abilities to ensure prosperity for Israel.
II. The Disobedience within the Vineyard (2-8) – Here Jesus revealed the disobedience and disarray that transpired in the owner’s absence. Consider:
A. The Resentment (2) – And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. At the time of harvest, the owner sent a delegation to receive his share of the harvest. They were expected to offer a certain portion of the abundance with the owner. This created resentment toward the owner. Those who labored within the vineyard resented being accountable to the owner and didn’t want to honor him with a portion of the harvest. They wanted to consume the harvest as it pleased them.