Mark 11:27-33; 12:1-12

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

January 3, 2013

 

Beginning with Mark 11, the remainder of Mark’s Gospel focuses essentially on the events that took place in a single week—the week of the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection.  In the first part of Mark 11 we read about the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem on Sunday at the beginning of the week that literally changed the course of human history.  In the middle part of Mark 11 we are told about how Jesus drove the moneychangers and sellers of sacrificial animals from the Temple court.  At the end of Mark 11 we see the conflict between Jesus and the religious establishment in Jerusalem moving toward an explosive climax.

 

In this section the religious leaders asked Jesus a series of questions, attempting to discredit him in the eyes of His growing number of followers.  Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on Mark classifies this series of questions this way:

·         A question of authority (11:27-12:12) – They wanted to know why Jesus thought He had the authority to do the things He was doing and say the things He was saying.

·         A question of responsibility (12:13-17) – This question had to do with the issue of Jews paying taxes to the Romans.

·         A question of eternity (12:18-27) – This question had to do with the resurrection from the dead.

·         A question of priority (12:28-34) – This question had to do with which was the greatest commandment.

Then, toward the end of chapter 12, Jesus turn the tables on the religious leaders asked a question about them (12:35-37).

 

A Question of Authority (Mark 11:27-12:12)

11:27-33 gives the circumstances of this question being asked and Jesus’ initial response.

11:27 “They came again to Jerusalem” This seems to imply they left Jerusalem and spent the nights back in Bethany, possibly with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.

“walking in the temple” Can you imagine how the merchants were watching Him! Jesus did not hide from or avoid confrontation. This was His moment of impact on Jerusalem.

“the chief priests and the scribes and the elders” This is the full designation for the Sanhedrin. This was an official ruling body of seventy members in Jerusalem, which developed out of the Great Synagogue of Ezra’s day. It was made up of the High Priest and his family, local scribes, and wealthy, influential elders from the Jerusalem area.

11:28 “ ‘By what authority are You doing these things’ ” This has been and is the crucial question about Jesus. Where did He get His power and authority to speak and act? Jesus did not fit their expected mold of what YHWH’s Messiah would do and say!

11:29 Jesus often used this second-question technique when dealing with those who tried to trick or trap Him (cf. 2:6–9, 19, 25–26; 3:23–24; 10:3, 37–39; 12:14–16). He would be open with them if they would be open to Him (cf. v. 33).

11:30 “ ‘Was the baptism of John from heaven’ ” Jesus answered their question with a question that dealt with their rejection of John the Baptist. They were not really seeking truth (cf. vv. 31–33). They were more concerned with their reputations and maintaining power (cf. v. 32).

11:31 “if” This is a THIRD CLASS CONDITIONAL sentence, which means potential action.

11:33 Jesus answers them by the parable in Mark 12:1–12, which is one of the most severe condemnations of Israel and her leaders in the entire NT.[1]

12:1-12 gives Jesus’ more complete response to the question of authority.  While refusing to answer them directly, in first part of Mark 12 told a parable which indirectly answered their question.

 

Parables were designed be heard more than read.  Generally a parable has one primary meaning and it would be a mistake to look for meaning or symbolism in each minute detail of the story.  But this parable is an exception.  It is almost in form of an allegory.  Jesus patterned story after a similar story in Isaiah 5:1‑7, and it is quite clear that details of this story do have specific meanings.

 

Let’s look first at the meaning of the various symbols in this parable.  Basically, this story is a history of the nation Israel.

LANDOWNER represents God...responsible for creation of vineyard...sending messengers...sending the son...

 

      VINEYARD represents Israel...picture of Israel as "vineyard of God" familiar OT picture...Isaiah 5:7‑ "The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel."...notice that landowner (God) gave vineyard (Israel) everything necessary for prosperity...wall keep out beasts and thieves...wine press crush grapes and make wine...tower to house workers and serve as guard post...

 

VINE‑GROWERS represent religious leaders Israel...in this case the scribes and Pharisees to whom directed...

 

SLAVES sent collect owner's share produce represent OT prophets...time and again sent call back and were rejected...

 

SON represents Jesus...since Israel not listen servants God sent own son...here in parable is prediction of rejection and death of Jesus at hands Jewish religious leaders which occurred later that week...

 

OTHER VINE‑GROWERS represent Christians who became focal point of God's redemptive activity in world...

 

With all that in mind, the meaning of parable is obvious: God called the nation Israel to be special servant people...gave Israel everything needed accomplish mission...Israel misunderstood calling and strayed from God...so, God sent prophets call the nation back to Him…but, Israel rejected those messengers from God...in due time, God sent own Son call people back to Him...people rejected God's Son and killed him on cross...now God calls all those who believe in the Son to be His servant people in the world...

 

One writer said:  "For us, this parable is not meant to be a slice of ancient history, but a grid through which we can evaluate our own lives."...while many truths in parable about God, Jesus, and us, want focus on what story says about how God has chosen relate to us...Several important truths here...Parable tells us that...

 

In this parable are some important truths about God that we need to understand.

 

God has chosen to entrust His work in this world to us

1.   Parable opens with owner completely entrusting vineyard to cultivators...wasn't uncommon in first century world...owners often had arrangements where someone else worked the land and they got either percentage of crop or fixed amount of crop regardless of harvest...what is unusually here is owner went on journey and made no effort check on progress of workers...did not stand over and exercise strict supervision...left them alone and trusted them to get job done...

2.   That's reminder of great spiritual principle...God has exhibited great faith/trust/confidence in us by entrusting to us His work in this world....

 

1.   Many, if not most Christians, think of Christian life  in terms of privilege...but must also remember that privilege always involves responsibility...

2.   Awesome thought that God has entrusted work his kingdom to us...imagine that!...for some reason, far beyond my understanding, God in his sovereignty has chosen do His work in world through people...if kingdom of God grows in this world, God's plan for it grow through lives people submissive and committed to him....

3.   Beautiful legend in Christian tradition which I've shared with you before...Jesus returned to heaven after mission completed...met by angel who asked what done ensure what began con't...said, "Entrusted message 12 people..they will carry‑on.."...angel said, "Only 12? What if plan should fail?"..Jesus replied, "There is no other plan."..

 

God has chosen to relate to us with patience

1.   In parable landowner gave tenants ample opportunity respond to him...did not react vengeance/anger when first messenger abused/rejected...instead, sent another...when that one was rejected and injured, still did not react with anger but sent another...and when the third one was killed, he still did not react with anger...instead Jesus said in v.5 he sent "many others"...and finally, when there was no-one else left to send, he sent own son...

2.   Point Jesus making is God had given Israel ample opportunity to repent and turn back to Him...was patient with them...didn't cast them away...even though Israel rejected God's messengers time and time again, God kept sending prophets call nation back to him..listen what said Hosea:  When Israel was a child, I love him, and out of Egypt I called My son. The more I called them, the more they went from me..(what did God do?..reject?..destroy?..no!) I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.

3.   And just as patient with Israel, still patient with us today...gives us every opportunity respond him in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ...not mean ogre trying make life miserable and making difficult know and follow him...loving parent does all can make Himself known and make life better and more complete for those who respond to him...

 

If we refuse God's love and patience, He will respond to us with judgment

1.   Main point this parable...directed primarily toward scribes/Phar. who would crucify in few days...applies every person ever has/will lived...day reckoning will come...will be called give account how responded to Jesus Christ...those accepted/accepted by God...rejected/rejected by

2.   What mean reject Jesus?...basically saying to God who sent him, "I don't need you...can handle life by myself...just leave me alone and let do own thing!"...in reality, rejecting God is rebellion against God..

3.   Want you know possible reject Jesus while believing all historical facts about him (acceptance more than accepting facts)...while being member church and hearing about him week after week (acceptance more that ritual and outward show)...

4.   Accepting Jesus means both knowing the right things--God loves/sin separates/Jesus came die for sins...and doing right thing -- trusting lives to him...

5.   Parable reminder that those who reject Christ stand in danger of God's judgement!

 

Conclusion

Basic message of this parable is transparently clear...God is a merciful God...God is a gracious God...God is a patient God...He desires to relate to us with mercy, grace, and patience...however, if we reject that, He will relate to us with judgment and condemnation...mercy or judgment...grace or condemnation...God has put that choice in our hands…



[1] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (135). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

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