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. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.’ And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? (Mark 12:1-11)
Jesus again drew from the parable of the Vineyard, yet modifying it,when he told it in Jerusalem during his last Passover before his death.
Once again the emphasis is partly on preparation;planting the Vineyard,set a hedge of protection around it, and digging(into solid rock) a place for the winepress, and a channel to allow wine to flow. A tower is built to allow watchmen to over see the Vineyard, shepherds and prophets) all with a view towards the production of sweet, useful fruit.
God has so ordained the circumstances of life,to incline us to come to a point in life wherein we would … repent, turn in faith to Messiah, learn to receive the Love of God and to give the Love of God. All of the details of my own life, (in retrospect) have been ordered towards just such a crisis. I was to hear and receive the gospel, turn away from Self and all of my idols, and become a believer in God, living by faith in the Son of God…
This was why I was born in Minnesota in the late 1950s and have lived in Iowa , where there was a church on every corner, and had parents who were earnest and sincere Catholics(at least they taught me of God, heaven and hell) and was taught early the Lord’s prayer, the Apostles Creed, and the Ten Commandments, and stories of Jesus. Furthermore I came of Age at the end of a real revival, something called the Charismatic renewal, in which countless millions were coming into the reality of the New Birth and the Holy Spirit.
All of this was designed to incline me to come to repentance and faith in Messiah, i.e. fruit.
But suddenly Jesus’ emphasis is focused on the management of the Vineyard. The Master of the Vineyard makes all of these preparations, only to lease out the Vineyard to tenant farmers, with the agreement that HE would receive the fruit as his share of the rent.The Master himself went on a long trip, but in his stead He sends his agents to collect the rents.
But the first of the agents,was captured by the tenants, and beaten ad sent away empty. The Tenants of the LORD’s Vineyard rejected the prophets who reminded them of God’s share and requirement of his people.
He sent other prophets, whom they stoned, wounded and drove away. (Notice that the treatment get progressively worse ?). They lash out all the harder, hurting the ones sent in the name of the Master of the Vineyard to collect the rent.
It got to the point where they actually killed one of the agents of the master. All he had done was remind them that they were but tenants and that they owed the master, and that HE wanted fruit for all of his efforts, but they wouldn’t hear it and so they killed Him! Others came later whom they hurt, killed and drove away.
What is this variation of the Vineyard parable teaching us? Among other things it is a revelation of the nature of unbelief. God has a right to expect fruit from all of us, HE has made the preparations, and the Vineyard is his , not ours! But when He sends his agents to remind us of our duty, too often we have mocked them, driven them away, and done whatever we could to silence their voice.
In this way, this generation of sinners seeks to “kill” Christian witness. Political correctness is a way to shut them up, so also are vilification laws, and “hate crimes laws”. One day these things will lead directly to the killing of Christian witnesses in the west.They have stripped away any public reminders, such as ten commandments displays or crib sets at Christmas, and remade our formerly Judeo Christian environment in an attempt to silence the voice.
This is especially true of renegade and backslidden religious leaders. They go from grateful tenants on rented land, realizing the owner’s claims upon their work, to almost feeling like the Vineyard is their own, to do with as they see fit. They grow to hate anyone who would ever tell them otherwise.
Finally in the Parable we see the tenants entertaining an utterly ridiculous idea, you could say it is a “Vain Imagination” and a “Knowledge which exalts itself against the knowledge of God’.
The owner proposes to send his own Son, not a mere agent, this time. He predicts that they will listen to Him. (And ultimately we will all be compelled to).
The Vain Imagination goes like this, “This is the heir, If we Kill Him, the Vineyard will be ours”. If we just do away with Jesus we can live our own lives, bear our own fruit and be happy and whole without God.
IT sounds good, but will it work? Can they silence that voice once and for all, and attain autonomy over the Vineyard? Will it then be theirs to do with as they want? Can they truly ‘cast the Son’ out of the Vineyard?
This is the psychology of unbelief and of general human resistance to God, and his claims on each of our lives. Somehow people sense that Jesus is the true “Heir” of all things, thus to eliminate his voice, his agents, to silence and quench the witnesses of Jesus, and to smother out the reminder of his Father’s claims on each life, in their minds they think (vainly) this would bring total freedom and human autonomy.
They really did Kill Him once, and of they could, they would do it again in this day. The closest thing to killing the Son, would be to kill the seed of the woman, ‘all of this who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus’ as the Revelation ,chapter 12 warns us.
In spite of the vain Imagination, really what would anyone think the true LORD of the Vineyard is going to do to these rebels?
At the end of this telling of the Vineyard parable, Jesus quotes a line from the 118th Psalm, a psalm which the children of Israel had been singing all of that week in conjunction with the Pilgrim feast they had been keeping;
And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?