Heavenly Father, we pray that You speak to us through Your Word of Truth. Bless those who have come, bless our time together, and meet us through the pages of Mark, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Mark 12: 1-17
VV 1-9, ‘’1 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. 6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.’’
The Greek word for parable is ‘’parabole’’, which means to cast alongside. An earthly story cast alongside a spiritual truth. An earthly story with a heavenly meaning. In the oral culture of first-century Israel, people passed down what they hear by word of mouth from generation to generation. The parable of the vineyard was an analogy of the vineyard song of Isaiah 5: 1-7. The owner of the vineyard represents God. The vineyard represents the nation of Israel. Tenant farmers represent the Jewish leaders. Servants represent prophets, the Son represents Jesus Christ. God had entrusted the Jewish leaders to care for the spiritual well-being of the ordinary Israelites but they failed. God sent one prophet after another to warn them but they ill-treated them and killed them. Finally, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to warn them but they killed Him too. God killed the tenant farmers and gave the vineyard to the Gentiles. In AD 70, the Romans massacred the Jews, destroyed Jerusalem, and the temple. The gospel came to the Gentiles.
VV 10-12, ‘’10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: ‘’The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? ‘’12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went.’’
Jesus changed the metaphor from the vineyard to the building. Jesus quoted from Psalm 118:22. The rejected Son of God, Jesus is the rejected chief cornerstone, capstone, or foundation stone, of Israel. A cornerstone had to be perfect as all the other stones are aligned to it. Realising that Jesus was speaking against them, the Jewish leaders sought to arrest Jesus, but they were afraid of the crowd and left the scene.
VV 13-17, ‘’13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” ‘’Caesar’s,” they replied. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.’’
Pharisees were the Jewish religious legalists. Herodians were the Jewish supporters of Herod Antipas. Pharisees and Herodians were enemies who had a mutual hatred for Jesus. Wanting to trap Jesus, they asked Him a controversial question, ‘’Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?’’ If Jesus answered yes, the Pharisees would be upset, and if He answered no, the Herodians would be upset. Jesus exposed their motive saying, ‘’bring me a denarius’’. A denarius is one day’s wage for a common labourer. On one side of the coin was an image of Caesar Augustus. On the other side was an inscription that said, ‘ ’Augustus Tiberius Caesar, son of Divine Augustus’’ Jesus replied to them saying that they should pay tax to the one who imposed the tax but pays to God what was due to God. Romans 13:6, ‘’ This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing God wants us to pay taxes.’’ You must give to God the things that belonged to God, worship, allegiance, submission, life, time, talent, tribe, torso, and treasure. You must give to Caesar, the tax money that Caesar imposed.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the timely reminder that we are citizens of heaven and earth. As we pay our taxes to the ruling authorities, we are also reminded to give You all that belonged to You, our time, talent, tribe, torso, and treasure, in Jesus’ name, Amen.