May 3: The Parable of the Rich Tenants

Read Mark 11:27-12:12

Through his teaching, compassion, and miracles, Jesus attracted quite a following. Thousands of “fans” loved what they saw and experienced.

But not all were fans. Jesus also had His foes. This group, though perhaps smaller in number, was more influential.  They were the highly respected religious leaders of the day: the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, and Herodians (11:27, 12:13).  Rather than recognizing the blessing that came through His ministry, they felt threatened by it. Instead of identifying Him as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, they questioned the authority of His ministry. As a result, they sought to discredit Him and to remove Him from the public eye.

So Jesus told a parable about them. It’s true, neither their names nor their titles are included in the parable. But they are the tenants in the parable. To them (and to the nation of Israel as a whole) much had been entrusted. In the story, it was a vineyard, a winepress, and a tower. And in reality, it was a vast land and the law of God. But the vineyard owner had expectations of the tenants, much the way that the heavenly Father had expectations of His chosen people and their leaders. Repeatedly, the owner sent his servants to collect his share of the crops, just as the God of the nation of Israel had sent Old Testament prophets to call His people to a lifestyle that pleased Him. But the servants, prophets, and messengers had been treated shamefully, beaten, and even killed.

But, seemingly in a last ditch effort, the vineyard owner sent his beloved son . . . just as our Father in heaven sent Jesus. Surely, they would listen to Him! But no. Once again the tenants, the religious leaders, and by and large the entire nation not only rejected Him, but they killed Him.

Thankfully, God’s plans were not thwarted. Though rejected by religious leaders, Christ is the cornerstone of the Church. Though largely rejected by His own nation, He has become the only hope for all nations. And even through His crucifixion, these leaders were, unknowingly, accomplishing the very plan of God.


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