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2007 mark’s gospel lecture 33 hymn 215

the parable of the tenants
mark 12:1-12
key verses 12:10
"haven't you read this scripture: 'the stone the builders rejected has become the capst

last sunday, we heard jesus’ word, “have faith in god.” god alone must be the object of our faith.
when we have faith in god, we can move mountains that hinder our life as jesus’ disciples, and
experience the power of god. faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
many people reject faith in god and go after will power, idols and even fallen nature. when the
religious leaders rejected jesus, their mind was filled with murder and they challenged jesus.
through the parable of the tenants, jesus reveals the terrible sin of rejecting god’s ownership of our
lives. jesus also declares that regardless of people’s rejection god has made him to be the only one
who can make human life complete.

i. the parable of the tenants (1-9)

look at verse 1. he then began to speak to them in parables: jesus was speaking to the chief priests
and teachers of the law who challenged his authority. earlier they rejected jesus’ authority to forgive
sins. they accused jesus of evicting demons by devil’s power and sinned against holy spirit. now out
of their fear they plotted to kill jesus and challenged his authority to do all these things. they did not
want to repent of their arrogance that stood against god. jesus told them this parable so that they
might clearly see their wickedness in rejecting him who came in the name of the lord, the eternal
son of god.
let us look at the parable itself. shall we read verses 1b. "a man planted a vineyard. he put a wall
around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower.” in the parable we see a landowner.
this man planted a vineyard. not only did he plant the choicest vine stalks, he also put a wall around
the vineyard to protect it from wild animals and thieves. he dug a pit for the winepress - a tough job
involving many days’ labor. he also built a watchtower to guard the vineyard against robbers. the
man poured out his heart in making his vineyard the best vineyard in every respect. in delhi we see
people make big farm houses to enjoy a quiet life. this man could live in his perfect vineyard and
enjoy taking care of it. but v.1c says, “then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away

on a journey.” obviously he cared for the landless farmers enough to rent his choice vineyard to
them - he trusted them and loved them. this landowner is the picture of god the creator.
what does this vineyard represent? isaiah 1:7a says, ‘the vineyard of the lord almighty is the
house of israel, and the men of judah are the garden of his delight.’ theirs is the adoption as
sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the
promises. theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of christ, who is god
over all… (ro. 9:3b-5). god entrusted this blessed vineyard to the religious leaders of israel. like the
farmers in the parable, these religious leaders were highly privileged to take care of god’s chosen
people so that they might bear fruit of justice and righteousness and be a source of god’s blessing to
the whole world. broadly speaking the vineyard is the world, and the farmers are mankind to whom
god gave the stewardship of the world. god is the owner, for he is the creator. we must not forget
god’s ownership. when we remember that he gave us life, the air we breathe, the water we drink and
the families we were born into, we can thank him and honor him through our lives.
look at v.1c again. ‘then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey.’ this
man was not like the money-minded landlords who breathe down on their tenants at the beginning
of every month, ‘give me rent’ or ‘kamara kali karo’. he did not push them from behind every
minute or spy on them. he entrusted them with the precious vineyard to work with freedom and do
their best to produce an abundant harvest and went on a journey. when this generous man nominated
them as tenants, the farmers must be very happy to be stewards of his beautiful vineyard. they might
thank the landlord again and again, “thank you. thank you, lord.” they might work hard with a sense
of great privilege.
look at verse 2. ‘at harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the
fruit of the vineyard.’ normally, the first harvest of grapes comes three years after it is planted. the
owner did not demand any rent during these years. only when harvest was ready did he send a
servant to collect from the tenants some of the fruit of the vineyard. did he demand the customary
50% of the harvest? no. not even 30% or 20%. he did not demand his share of the harvest at all. he
only wanted to know how they were doing and know how fruitful was the vineyard he had planted.
his desire was to maintain right relationship with the tenants. the tenants should have honored the
servant as the landlord’s messenger and given some of the best bunches of grapes that they had
harvested. if the harvest was not good for some reason, they could have frankly said so. but what
did they do? look at verse 3. ‘but they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed.’
they misunderstood the owner’s indention. “what! your master wants fruit? we toiled on this

vineyard all these years. now at harvest time, the landlord wants our fruit as rent!” “rent indeed! rent
your face.” instead of giving some of the fruit, they beat the servant and sent him away empty-
handed. the owner should have punished the tenants severely. but what did he do? look at verses 4-
5. ‘then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him
shamefully. he sent still another, and that one they killed. he sent many others; some of them
they beat, others they killed.’
why would they act in such a terrible way? first, it was their pride. i believe that as they lived in the
beautiful vineyard, working it, slowly they began to think they were the owner. they became proud
thinking, ‘this is our vineyard.’ we worked hard. we got a good harvest. of what they did and did not
regard owner as the owner anymore. this was also satan’s sin, who in his pride rebelled against god.
pride is the root of all rebellion against god. secondly, they lost thanksgiving to the owner. when
pride captured their hearts, they easily forgot all the generosity of the landowner. they no more
thanked him for choosing them as the tenants when they were landless farmers. especially as they
saw the growing fruit, they began to think it is the fruit of their hard work. they made light of the
hard work the landlord had done to prepare a perfect vineyard for them. ‘oh, that is his duty’, they
brushed aside all his generosity with one word. instead they complained that he had done nothing to
help them while they were working hard. thanksgiving was replaced by complaint. they complained
that landlord only wanted rent. and lastly, their greed came out, they did not want to give anything
to the owner. they wanted to keep everything for themselves. their, pride, thanklessness and greed
made the farmers to act wickedly towards the good landowner. this is sinners’ character.
the tenants’ persistent wickedness was nothing but open rebellion against the owner of the vineyard.
the owner should have kicked them out of the vineyard for their ingratitude and rebellion and
wicked acts against his servants. they deserved to be punished without mercy. but the owner did not
punish them. he did not kick them out. he hoped against hope that the tenants who had received so
much of his kindness and care would repent of their wickedness. every time he hoped, ‘this time
they will acknowledge their sin and treat my servant well.” his continued love for them should have
broken down their stubbornness. instead they even killed some of the servants sent to them. these
servants represent the prophets whom god sent to his people israel. 2 chronicles 36:15,16 says, “the
lord, the god of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again,
because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. but they mocked god’s
messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the lord was
aroused against his people and there was no remedy.” the more god tolerated their wickedness,

the more arrogant they became not realizing that god’s patience was to give them chance to repent.
not only the israelites, but also the sinful mankind is well represented by these wicked tenants. when
we forget what god had done for us, how he gave us life, we too behave as we were the owner of
our lives and what we have. campus students often say, ‘it is my life. i will do as i want. who are
you to interfere?’ many parents also say, “it is my money, my children. i know how to deal with
them.” but jesus teaches us that it is our rebellion against god who created us and gave us life. it is
denying god’s ownership of our life and cutting off relationship with our maker. as these tenants lost
thankfulness to the owner, so also our thanklessness leads to crucifying the son of god. it is our
arrogant rejection of god’s lordship that cut off relationship with our creator.
the tenants’ continuing rebellion and wickedness was intolerable as it was strange. but the action of
the owner was stranger still. look at verse 6. "he had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. he
sent him last of all, saying, 'they will respect my son.'” instead of sending the police to evict the
tenants, the owner sent his only son hoping that they will respect him at least. this was far more than
good minded men will do. this owner who sent his only son is the picture of god. john 3:16 says,
‘for god so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.’ god did not send his son to condemn the world, but to save
the world through him. god believed that sinful man would repent before the gift of his only son.
the owner sent his son as a peace offering to the rebellious tenants. but what did the wicked tenants
do? look at verses 7,8. "but the tenants said to one another, 'this is the heir. come, let's kill him,
and the inheritance will be ours.' so they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the
vineyard. they thought the son came to claim his inheritance. they saw his coming as an
opportunity to get rid of the heir and take over the vineyard. so they killed him in cold blood. it was
tragic that they should murder the son. look at verse 9. "what then will the owner of the vineyard
do? he will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” this parable ends in a
terrible tragedy. but our lives need not end this way. ro. 2:6-8 says, “god 'will give to each person
according to what he has done.' to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and
immortality, he will give eternal life. but for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and
follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” our desire to be our own master looks attractive, with
possibility of enjoyment, but it only makes thoroughly sinful as to inherit death and destruction. we
must not be like these tenants show contempt for the riches of god’s kindness, tolerance and
patience. god called us to take care of the beautiful campus vineyard. god gave us youth, talents,
and he gave us his word every week. we must thank god the owner of our life who gave us this

beautiful vineyard and work hard to raise up influential spiritual leaders. god wants us to work hard
and offer some of the fruit to him. if we don't work hard in this vineyard, we are terrible sinners
who don't have desire to thank god. when we contrast the love and hope of god upon us and our sin,
it must move us to offer our lives to god.
indeed god gave me the best vineyard to take care of. god also provided me with a wonderful
woman of faith to be my coworker. god blessed me with three children, sac campus, sheep who
listen to god’s word. but i have been so lazy in cultivating my vineyard and depended on my wife to
take the lead. when i must work hard, i went after pleasures and viled away time. i despaired that i
am so fickle minded, and so hopelessly made light of god’s saving grace and his purpose for me to
be a holy priest. when i had to cowork with others, i tried to do it alone. when god asked for fruit, i
was angry saying i had to manage my life, when it was my own laziness and postponing habit that
made me lack time and tired. i repent that i was not eager to work hard and bear fruit for god, easily
making light of god’s abundant blessings and his grace of forgiveness in jesus. it is god’s mercy that
he uses me as his servant and gives me his word of truth. i learn that i must not make light of his
patience and kindness, but use every opportunity to testify to his grace and seek to live a life of
holiness and love. may god help me to do my very best in preparing the sunday messages, and bible
studies and also work hard in my office utilizing every moment preciously.

ii. the rejected stone, the capstone (10-12)

look at verses 10, 11. haven't you read this scripture: " 'the stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone; the lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" in this verse we
find that the builders rejected the stone. when we hear that the experts rejected it, we think that the
stone is a useless one. but the marvelous thing is that the same stone became the capstone, the most
important stone in the building - that which completes the building. the capstone is not only the
stone that completes the building, it is also unique in shape and size, is precious, and highly
how is jesus the rejected stone? in the parable, the tenants thought that once they killed the son, the
owner will die of broken heart and they can be owners. but it did not happen like that. instead they
themselves lost their privilege and blessing and were destroyed. the religious leaders rejected jesus
as the messiah. they rejected his authority, they even killed him, in fact crucified him, throwing him
out of the holy city. but god's redemptive ministry did not fail. rather the work of salvation was

completed through jesus’ death on the cross. 'the stone the builders rejected has become the
capstone; the lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" these verses are a quotation from
psalm 118:22,23. they have been widely applied by christians whenever they felt the work of god
was too small and the evils of the world too great. once, in the early days, the religious leaders came
to threaten god's servants. peter, filled with the holy spirit, said to them, "he is 'the stone you
builders rejected, which has become the capstone'" (ac 4:11). god has made this jesus, whom you
crucified, both lord and christ.” those who accepted the son as their savior and lord could recieve
eternal life and blessing after blessing.
second, the rejected stone, the sovereign ruler of history. these days, people specialize in attacking
jesus. like the religious leaders who challenged jesus, people try to discount the truth claims of jesus
as narrow mindedness. it is fashionable to believe that everything ok and take human sinfulness
lightly. there is a strong impression that young people have no spiritual desire. but it is not true.
look at verse 11. "...the lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes." to god's people, the fact
that jesus became the rejected stone but that god made him the capstone and the sovereign ruler of
history is truly marvelous. it is marvelous to see god touching the hearts of intellectuals even in iit
so that they eagerly study the bible and struggle to follow jesus. it is marvelous to see br. ravi and
br. anil seek to listen god’s word through diligent bible study. praise god who does marvelous things
in our midst in spite of our weaknesses and sins.

in conclusion, god loves us and wants to establish love and trust relationship with us. god
knows that we are sinful and sent his son so that by accepting him we may have love relationship
with him. when we put faith in him and live by his word, we can produce abundant fruit for god’s
glory. may god bless us to accept god’s son and live a blessed life that pleases god.

2007 mark’s gospel lecture 33 (#215)

the parable of the tenants

mark 12:1-12
key verses 12:10 “haven't you read this scripture: ‘the stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone.’”
1. why did jesus begin to speak to the religious leaders in parables (1)? what did the owner do for
his vineyard? what does his vineyard represent (isa.5:1-7)?

2. what did the owner do during the harvest season (2)? why? what can we learn here about god’s
expectation of his people?

3. how did the tenants treat the servants the owner sent to them (3-5)? how could they be so rude
and violent? what had they forgotten? how do the actions of the tenants reflect those of the
israelites in their history? the rebellion of all mankind against god?

4. what choice did the owner have to make (6-8)? what revealed the owner’s hope? what evil
calculation did the tenants make? what was their horrible decision? what can we learn from this
about god’s hope for the world through sending his son? what are the consequences of choosing
rebellion instead of obedience and faith (9)?

5. how was jesus the rejected stone (10-11)? how has the lord made him the capstone of his world
salvation work? what does this reveal about god’s authority, grace and truth?

6. what did the religious leaders realize, and what did they attempt to do (12)?

7. what can you learn here about the purpose for which god sent jesus into the world? what can
you learn about god’s hope for your life, and how can you meet his expectation?