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“Then He began to speak to them in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some. Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, “They will respect my son.” But those vinedressers said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?’ And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.”—Mark 12:1–12 (NKJV)
As Mark’s Gospel has shown us, Jesus used parables to convey powerful and important spiritual truths to His audience. And as the Parable of the Soils showed, the parables would have different effects on different people based on the condition of their hearts. Some would receive what was being taught, and many would reject it.
At this point, as Jesus is engaged in a confrontation with the religious rulers who want Him dead, He shares a parable intended to reveal their guilt before God. It’s a bit long but it needs to be read in its entirety to understand the impact of what Jesus is saying.
This parable is describing how God (the owner of the vineyard) had repeatedly sent prophets (the servants) to the rulers of Israel and Judah (the vinedressers). But notice the repeated reaction had been to reject those who had been sent by God. This is precisely what you’ll see if you read through the Old Testament as a sinful nation despised, abused, and often killed the Lord’s representatives. Jesus is holding a mirror up to them about their past, but then He raises the stakes even higher.
The parable escalates as the owner does something dramatically different when he sends His own son. And what was the response? They rejected and killed him. This of course, depicts the Father sending His only begotten Son, who would soon be killed by those who had been entrusted to lead His people.
Through this parable, Jesus is pointing back to what they had done and is pointing ahead to what they would do to Him. And true to the nature of parables, they didn’t receive what was being said, as was evidenced when they just left and went away. They rejected Him and His message. But here’s the thing: As Charles Spurgeon explained, “The Son was the final messenger. There would be no other. Either they would accept the message of the Son or face certain judgment. If you do not hear the well-beloved Son of God, you have refused your last hope. He is God’s ultimatum. Nothing remains when Christ is refused. No one else can be sent; heaven itself contains no further messenger. If Christ be rejected, hope is rejected.”
The point is this: We must be willing to receive what the Lord reveals to us, no matter how painful or convicting it may be. Take in the truth and let it transform you into the person God is molding you to be.
Pause: Why did Jesus choose to teach through parables?
Practice: Think about a time when you were tempted to reject God’s truth about something pertaining to your life. What happened?
Pray: Lord, please keep my heart soft and ready to receive Your truth, especially when it concerns myself. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.