Fall 2021 Bible Reading Plan, Week 2 - The Parable of the Wicked Tenants and The Owner’s Beloved Son

fall2021 bible

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants and The Owner’s Beloved Son, the Cornerstone  

A Prophetic Parable of Judgement and Sovereign Redemption

 

Download a PDF version of this study here.

Start by reading Mark 12:1-12

1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally, he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

11 this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

I. Introduction

In 12 very short verses, with great skill and precision, Jesus summarizes God’s dealings and redemptive plan with His people... past, present, and future. 

A. The Setting

In Luke 9:5,  Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem.  Jesus is now there.  In a matter of days, He will fulfill His divine mission as the Lamb of God, sacrificially dying for the sins of the world. He knows this and what lies ahead of Him: His betrayal and torture, the mocking, the excruciating suffering and death of crucifixion... but even more terrible will be the pain of separation from His Father as He will receive the wrath of God, paying the penalty for and taking the punishment for the sins of the world by the shedding of His blood and His death.

Days before, He had entered the city to the worshipping cheers of an adoring crowd who were ecstatic about Him as their Messiah. He will not be the militaristic conquering Messiah they hope He would be, however. He will be the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, the grief bearer, smitten by God and afflicted, the Lamb of God led to the slaughter.

The focus and tenor of His ministry have changed in recent days. From healings and a teaching ministry to the people, he has turned His focus to the spiritual condition of Israel and its religious leaders. He had cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit, symbolic of Israel’s soon rejection of Him. He then went to the temple, the house of prayer for the nations, and cleared it of the greedy dishonest money changers. He and His disciples had found the cursed fig tree withered from its roots by His absolute authority. He taught them about having faith in God, about the power of prayer according to the Father’s will, and about the importance of forgiveness.

He had confounded the Jewish leaders who had tried to trick him with their questions about the source of His authority, leaving them speechless and tied up in their own confused sinful thoughts.

B. The Purpose - Prophetic Judgement and Sovereign Redemption

Now in chapter 12 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus begins to teach a prophetic parable of judgement and sovereign redemption that will shake the Jewish leaders to their core as He begins to uncover and expose the awful unbelief and hardness of heart of Israel and its religious leaders. And Jesus continues to reveal His Father’s plan of redemption throughout the world through His rejection and death.

**Many of Jesus’ parables were hard for his hearers to understand. Even his disciples were confused at times and had to ask afterward as to their meanings.

However this parable was directed at the Jewish religious leaders and was meant to be clearly understood by them...and was clearly understood, but tragically not received by them.

II. The Elements of the Parable: Who are these People and Places

A. The Owner is God 

B. The Vineyard is Israel, representing God’s redeeming work in the earth through His people, now His church 

  • How do we know this?

Jesus almost exactly quotes the familiar Isaiah 5 passage in the description of the vineyard, its owner, and its condition. So it is very clear to these Jewish leaders what this parable is about.

Isaiah 5:1,2,7

1 My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.

2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines;

he built a watchtower in the midst of it, 

and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes,

but it yielded wild grapes...

 7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,

and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting,

and he looked for justice,  but behold, he found bloodshed

He looked for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!

 

C. The Fruit of the VIneyard is Israel's obedience or disobedience

D. The Wicked Tenants are the Jewish religious leaders, its shepherds

E. The Owner’s Servants are the Old Testament prophets

F. The Owner’s Beloved Son is The Lord Jesus 

G. The Others, to who the vineyard will be given are the Gentiles                                                                                                       

III. The Teaching of The Parable 

Main Idea: To reject the Son is to reject the Father who sent Him. To receive the Son is to be welcomed into the Father’s household, with Jesus as its Foundation.

A. The Kindness and Patience of God, Verses 1-5 

Mark 12:1-5 - And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.       

1. In the calling of Abram, God called a people who He would bless..and thru them, all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3)

2. God, in His patience and kindness, has sent MANY faithful messengers to His people  

           “God is patient when sinners resist His wooing.” - Daniel Akin 

3. Old Testament Prophets

Hebrews 1:1 - Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,...

Hebrews 11:35-38  - Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Matthew 23:34-38  Just days after he spoke this parable  (7 Woes to Scribes and Pharisees)

Jesus’ Lament over Jerusalem

Matthew 23:34-38 - Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[a] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 

Stephen preaching right before he is stoned to death

Acts 7: 51-53 - “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

 B. The Love of God: The Father Sends His Beloved Son, Verses 6-8

Mark 12:6-8 - He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally, he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

This is the most amazing, poignant, heart-breaking aspect of the parable!! 

The Beloved Son Is The Narrator of this Parable: Jesus, Himself!!

-  At Jesus’ baptism,  Mark 1:11- "You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased". 

-  At Jesus’ transfiguration, Mark 9:7 - And a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him. 

1. The Father sent the one He loved and the one we should honor. - Daniel Akin

2. The Father sent His son as an act of grace. - Daniel Akin

3. Hebrews 1:1-2 - Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the Prophets 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

4. John 3:16 - [To Nicodemus] 'For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’

**Jesus is telling them that He is the Beloved Son in the parable and that He knows that they are going to kill Him! And that God will judge them severely for it! 

  • To reject the Son is to reject the Father who sent Him. - Daniel Akin 

C. The Severity of God in Judgement, Verse 9

Mark 12: 9 - What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

The owner preserves the vineyard, giving it to others, but destroys the wicked tenants!

God’s judgment will certainly come. Our response to the Son will decide our eternal destiny. - Daniel Akin

Romans 11:22  -  ‘Note then the kindness and the severity of God; severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness.  

D. The Tragedy of Rejection, Verse 12

The Jewish religious leaders were not convinced or convicted by the Lord's teaching... even though they knew he was directing this parable at them! 

Mark 12:12 - And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them.

In Luke 20:16-18, Jesus tells them, He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But He looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Their hearts were hard and in a matter of a few days ...after hearing this parable,  they murdered him,  they crucified the beloved Son of the Father. 

E. The Grace of God in Sovereign Redemption, Verses 10-11

Mark 12:10-11 - Have you not read this Scripture:  “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

11 this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

The rejection of the Son results in a glorious reversal. - Daniel Akin

God transforms the apparent tragedy, humiliation, and foolishness of the cross into His mighty saving power for all who believe in Jesus, both Jew, and Gentile (the Others)

Psalm 118:22-23 - The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.                     

  1. The Glorious Reversal

 The stone was rejected by the builders... But Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, that the cross is foolishness and a STUMBLING BLOCK to them. For us who believe, however, it is the power of God unto salvation.

**God takes what was, in the minds of the rebellious hard-hearted Jewish ‘builders’, this ‘worthless rejected stone, and makes it, makes HIM the CORNERSTONE of His house, the keystone of His arch, the cornerstone of His foundation upon which the salvation of every person who is called and believes would be built.  

And as verse 11 says,  this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes!’

2. What then is the result?

1 Peter 2: 4-10 - As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:  “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

IV. Application

This is not just a lesson in the Lord’s redemptive history and past dealings with Jewish/Gentile responses to Him. There are implications and applications for us today! 

A. Receive God’s Servants, His Messengers Today 

We not only have the Old Testament and its Prophets but we have the whole Bible and the Holy Spirit within us to teach, convict and guide us.

Sinclair B Ferguson - “God continues to send His servants to us (the Church) today, to remind us of our debt to Him. In a multitude of ways, he reminds us that He looks for the fruit of grace in our lives.

Do we hear God’s messengers today? 

-They may be preachers and teachers of the word, 

-they may be those who remind us personally that we are to live for Christ,

-they may be the joys and sorrows of life, which encourage us to seek our only ultimate joy and strength in God and His grace.

The question is, How do we respond to them? Do we welcome them or do we seek to silence the voice of God in them?” 

B. Our  Charge, our Commission from the Lord Jesus is to take His Gospel to the world; to preach Him, the Savior, and the imperative of receiving Jesus and not rejecting Him! 

 John 1:11-12 - He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.                                           

Charles Spurgeon - “Remember once more, If you do not hear the well-beloved Son of God, you have refused your last hope.

Jesus is God’s Ultimatum. Nothing remains when Christ is refused. No one else can be sent. 

Heaven itself contains no further messenger. 

If Christ is rejected  Hope is rejected” 

This is our Lord Jesus: who we love follow and serve, whose life and Gospel we preach:

Hebrews 1:1-3 - Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 

 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  1. Do you see the patience and kindness of God in the many servants (messengers) the Owner sent to the tenants? How? What could He have done?

  2. How does the Owner's response differ between the treatment of the servants compared to the treatment of His Son?

  3. Why did the leaders reply 'Surely not!' in Luke 20:16? Who are the others that the vineyard is given to?

  4. Why did the Jewish leaders think Jesus was directing this teaching at them?

  5. What is the message and what are the applications to us today? See Ferguson's quote above for one answer.

  6. Meditate on sections IIIC and IIID above. Rejection of the Lord is so serious and grievous. How should this affect us in our witness and outreach to others?

  7. Are you as direct as Spurgeon is in his statement (quoted above) when you talk to someone about the Lord? Probably not and we are probably not supposed to be that direct. He was preaching and we are normally sharing informal conversations. These are 2 completely different settings, but we can learn much from the intensity of his exhortation. What might some of those lessons be?

  8. Consider and meditate on what Akin calls 'The Glorious Reversal' Psalm 118:22-23 - The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 

Now read and meditate on 1 Peter 2: 4-10. How can the same 'stone', be a rejected stumbling stone and rock of offense, but also be the precious Cornerstone?

What makes the difference?

  1. Jesus is the Cornerstone. What does this mean and what should this mean to us in our lives?