What Did God Really Promise?

Shaking Hands

In Mark 12:1-12, Jesus tells a parable about “A man (who) planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress, built a watchtower, then rented it out to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time, he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant to them, but the tenants struck the man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent another servant, that one they killed. He continued to send many others. Some were beaten by the tenants, and the others were killed. He had one left to send, His Son, whom He loved. He sent his son last of all saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is his heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What, then, should the vineyard’s owner do?”

Let me help understand what’s going on so far:
In first century Galilee, large estates were often owned by absentee landlords. This would explain the Vineyard owner. They would put their property into the hands of local peasants who would cultivate the land as tenant farmers. So the agreement was that they got free housing, free food from the crops and jobs, and the landowner would receive a fixed amount in accordance with a kind of share-cropping agreement. And at the proper time, he would have expected his share.

Characters in this parable:

  • Vineyard owner (God the Father)
  • Vineyard (Land? Promises? Salvation? Kingdom?)
  • Tenants (Israelites/Jews)
  • Servants sent (Prophets)
  • Owner’s Son (Jesus)
  • Others to whom the vineyard will be given (Gentiles)

Let’s wrestle through the meaning of the vineyard for a moment. If the Vineyard was God’s promises or salvation (or both), then Jesus has to be talking about the Gentiles who will accept God through Jesus Christ…those who live for Him, keep to the “agreement”, and honor and glorify the “Owner and His Son”. However, if the Vineyard is land, then the Israelites thought God’s promise was land.

This is a dangerous/cautious thought though, for if Jesus was meaning the vineyard as being the land of Israel, Gaza, Palestine, and even the place of the Temple in Jerusalem, then such would support the Muslim occupation of the land today, although now they too have done and do as did the ‘tenants’ in the parables when it comes to Christian evangelists and missionaries.

So in context, the vineyard is not the land in the sense of the physical Israel, which is currently occupied by Muslims, for they have nothing to do with God’s Son. Jesus is the heir sent to reap the fruits. But as we see how Muslims (mostly overseas) treat Christians, as well as God’s Son (whom they reject as such), this text cannot be supporting them. If anything, they have taken the place (or followed the behaviors) of the Israelites, Jews, and Sanhedrin in that they reject Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, as well as those whom He’s sent to them to bring them on track with God the Father. Therefore, the vineyard must refer to God’s promise to the patriarchs, salvation, and Jesus the Messiah, for: “The stone which was rejected has become the main cornerstone.”

Let me explain this part with what it says in the Greek:

λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες

  • ἀπεδοκίμασαν = Verb
  • οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες = Subject
  • stone which was rejected (οἰκοδομέω: Present/Active/participle, Masculine nominative, plural: “the builders”)

οὗτος – ἐγενήθη –  εἰς – κεφαλὴν γωνίας
This – has become –  into – (head + corner = the main cornerstone)

“The Stone which the builders rejected, this (has been transformed into/has been turned into) the main cornerstone.”

Jesus is the stone that was (and is still being) rejected. But yet, the only way to become a resident in the Kingdom of God is to accept and build onto this Stone.

  • The Stone = Jesus
  • Jesus = Word of God

And yet again, the Pharisees backed down because their focus was to please the people. If their focus had been on God and His Word, and fully believed their planning of Jesus’ death was their purpose / responsibility, then their pursuit of human’s pleasure caused them to sin against God.

If God tells you to do something, do it regardless of what others think or might say (unless it’s against God’s character or contradicts the Scripture). Otherwise (again, as with the temple and the fig tree), you’re not living up to the purpose of which you were created or placed.
So the Pharisees had 3 strikes against them:

  1. They weren’t living up to their job descriptions in terms of serving God;
  2. Their pride blinded them from seeing and accepting Jesus as the Messiah;
  3. If they had been correct, they failed by preferring approval of man over God’s.

He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read the scriptures? The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this and it’s marvelous in our eyes.”

Then they (the Pharisees, Teachers of Law, and Elders) looked for a way to arrest Him (Jesus), because they knew the parable was about them. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left and went away.

See, the Israelites thought God’s promise was land. But the promise was God…when you enter into a covenant with God, you get God.

Imagine how upset the Muslims will be once they realize this and that all this time, all they got was land.

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