PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
READ: Mark 12:1-12
It seems that a common desire of every Christian is to know the heart of God. “What would God think?” In this parable, Jesus gives us a rare glimpse into exactly how God feels about the nation of Israel and their leaders. Using a vineyard as the analogy for the nation, the history of their relationship unfolds.
First, it is clear that God made Israel, constructing each part. Jesus gives the detail in His analogy: plant the vines, dig a wine vat, build a wall around it for protection and put up a watchtower – everything needed for success. The people who have been given responsibility for the vineyard, the tenant farmers, the “vinedressers” are Israel’s leaders. This is the audience in front of Jesus at that moment. He is speaking to the “chief priests, scribes, and elders” (Mark 11:27).
This group of “vinedressers” is supposed to guard the people. They have not only lost respect for the One that made them but seem driven by a cruel hate as evidenced by killing each emissary that He sends. These envoys represent the long line of prophets and occasionally kings that God has sent to lead His chosen people. They are not only treated badly, but some slaughtered. The leaders’ rebellion against God is total. Their hypocrisy is complete. Claiming to speak for God, they refuse to listen to any word that He sends.
Power often corrupts. It often goes to men’s heads. We selfishly possess it and lash out at any who challenge it. In this case, the scribes and Pharisees forgot the God who gave them power. Pretending that they serve Him, they ruthlessly guard the authority that He has given them. So God, seen as the owner of the vineyard, sends the ultimate messenger, His son. The chief priests and scribes knew that Jesus was referring to them and hated Him all the more for it. Jesus then predicts His own death to the men who will carry it out.
In response to killing His son, “what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers and give the vineyard to others” (Mk 12:9). Jesus’ words are again prophetic; the Romans destroyed Jerusalem less than 40 years later. And God’s church left the confines of the Jewish temple to welcome in the Gentiles – people from every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth. Through this parable, Jesus not only explains the past and predicts the future, but also reveals the heart of God His father.
Do you have the courage to stand up to opposition like Jesus did in this case? The truth may have a cost. Are we willing to pay it? Why or why not?
That you never mistake God’s blessings as birthrights you deserve but see them as gifts for which we should always be thankful. Pray for the leaders of our churches that they remain humble and always recognize God as the source of their accomplishments.