Thursday, October 26, 2023

A Landowner & His Tenants

Thursday, October 26, 2023 

A Landowner & His Tenants – Mark 12:1-12 Submitted by Kay Crumley

Jesus taught in parables, short simple stories illustrating a moral or spiritual truth, so that His listeners could apply the truth to their daily lives.  It was common for landowners to have workers, tenants, occupy his land and tend the crops while the landowner was away.  The tenant could claim the property as his own if the landowner was away for three years without claiming ownership as titles were sometimes uncertain.  Read the passage below to see how these facts of that period are woven into the story. 

Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away.2 At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from the farmers.3 But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.4 Again he sent another slave to them, and they hit him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 Then he sent another, and they killed that one. He also sent many others; they beat some and they killed some. 

6 “He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 

7 “But those tenant farmers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’8 So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 

9 “Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers and give the vineyard to others.10 Haven’t you read this Scripture: 

Thestone that the builders rejected 
has become the cornerstone. 
11 This came from the Lord 
and is wonderful in our eyes? 

12 Because they knew He had said this parable against them, they were looking for a way to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the crowd. So they left Him and went away. 

There’s a LOT of stuff happening in the first four verses.  The landowner prepared the property, it was planted with a nice vineyard, he installed a fence, a winepress, and a watch tower so that it would have the necessary equipment and protection.  However, when he sent his slaves/servants to collect fruit, maybe as rent payment, they beat some of them and killed some of them.  They refused to send any of the fruit from the harvests to the landowner.  If we draw parallels, as the listeners did, the landowner represents God, the slaves or servants represent the prophets, and the tenants are the Jewish religious leaders who were hearing this parable.  Jesus is telling them they were provided with bountiful property, well equipped for them to have a successful harvest.  But they rejected, even killed, the ones sent by God to receive the fruit that was His to begin with. They wanted it all for themselves, unwilling to give back to God what He deserves.   

Finally, in verses 7-8, the landowner sent his own son to the vineyard to collect what was owed to him.  The farmers killed him and threw him into the vineyard so that they could claim the property as their own.  They wanted control just as the Jewish religious leaders wanted to be in control of the Israelites to make them obedient to them, not God.


The consequence of the choices the farmers made is given in verses 9-11.  The landowner, God, will take the land back from the tenants and give it to someone else, Gentile believers.  The farmers, the religious leaders, will be destroyed.  Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-28 to these religious scholars who knew the scripture and it’s meaning.  Jesus is the Stone, the Rock of provision in the desert (1Cor 10:4), the stumbling Stone (1 Peter 2:8), and the Stone that crushes the kingdoms of this world (Daniel 2:54).   

They knew, verse12, He was talking about them, and they were ready to kill Jesus as the farmers killed the landowner’s son.  Yet they were afraid of the crowd’s reaction to such an act, so they walked away and began to plot His murder rather than repenting.  Their rejection of God’s agenda couldn’t stop Him from accomplishing His plan.  

God has a plan for my life and for the life of every believer.  Just like those religious leaders, we can submit to His plan for our lives or not.  However, His plans will not be diverted.  We can be obedient and blessed by being a part of His plan or reject Him and miss the blessing.  The ultimate rejection is to not accept Him as Savior, that separates us from Him for eternity.  His gift of salvation from the penalty of sin is free and available to all who believe.   


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