Parables of Jesus: The Vineyard
Three elderly men are sitting together and
discussing what they want their family and friends
to say when they are lying in their casket at their
The first man says “I want them to say I was a
great father and a great friend. I want them to say
I could always be counted on.”
The second guy says “I just want them to talk
about how much I changed the world, and how I
left it a better place.”
The third man says “I want them to look right at
me and say: ‘Look! He’s moving!'”
Today we are going to look at the parable of the vineyard
You can find it in Mark 12. I want to give
you some context.
This is the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.
He has entered Jerusalem on the donkey,
He has driven out the money changers that were making
the temple a den of robbers,
He walked in the temple again and the chief priests and
scribes asked Him about His authority.
He didn’t directly answer their question but asked them
one in return. He asked if the baptism of John was from
heaven or from men.
They couldn’t answer it, so He refused to tell them where
His authority came from. This parable is told against the
scribes and chief priests. Even though our Bible breaks it
down into a new chapter, it’s a continuation of the same
story about Jesus interacting with these men.
So, that catches us up and now we are ready for our text.
The first thing we need to discuss is that this parable is a
little different than most other parables.
Some folks argue that it’s not even a parable because of
the allegorical elements that are included. But I think it’s
a parable, because not everything has a spiritual
So, let’s discuss what some of the elements mean.
The planter of the vineyard = God
Vineyard = Israel
Vine Growers = Jewish leaders (chief priests, scribes)
Slaves = Prophets
Beloved Son = Jesus
Now, before we get too far let’s see some more context.
Isaiah 5:1-7 is a song about a vineyard. The vineyard
didn’t produce good grapes. In v.7 he says the vineyard
is the nation of Israel.
So, it’s not strange for Jesus to be telling this parable
about a vineyard. His audience would have been familiar
with the text in Isaiah.
Now, let’s get into the parable.
Jesus tells about a man who planted a vineyard.
He got everything ready and then went on a journey and
rented out the vineyard to vine growers.
This was NOT unusual in this day and time. It was
probable that much of the land was rented out and
operated by others.
In these few verses we see
The owner prepared everything and left it in the hands of
a steward to take care of it for him.
There is no doubt that terms were agreed upon before
the owner left town. It is unknown what percentage the
owner required, it may have been between 25-50%
● Work the vineyard
● Return a portion of the profits
The expectation was that when the owner sent a
representative back, he would be given a portion of the
profits. That’s just normal business practices.
If you don’t own the land, you have to pay to borrow it.
He trusted that the vine growers would keep their end of
the bargain and return to the owner what was agreed
Jesus is telling this parable to the scribes and chief
priests who have failed to be obedient to Jesus. In the
parable the vineyard owner sent a servant to collect what
was due, but the vine growers beat him and sent him
away empty handed.
Patience (Second Chances)
The owner kept on sending different servants
The message was the same.
Two parallels here that we need to mention
First, the slaves represent the prophets.
Just think about how many different prophets God sent in
the OT!! Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jonah, Habakkuk
God kept sending prophets to get His message out to
Israel. And they kept on rejecting them.
Jesus is reminding the scribes and chief priests that they
need to stop rejecting the Grace of God
God’s patience is different from man’s patience.
I like how Peter describes it in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is
not slow about His promise, as some count
slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing
for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Just like the vineyard owner kept on sending slaves to
collect the rent, God kept on sending prophets to tell the
good news because He wants all to come to repentance.
Second, the beloved son of the vineyard owner
represents Jesus. The vineyard owner sent his son
because He thought the renters would respect him and
give him what was due. But they rejected him.
God sent Jesus in a display of grace into the world to
become the suffering servant. Isaiah 53:3-5 describes
His suffering this way, “He was despised and
forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief; and like one from whom men hide their
face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows
He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was
pierced through for our transgressions, He was
crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our
well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we
Jesus was beaten, whipped, wore a crown of thorns and
eventually gave His life so that we can be reconciled to
God. This plan of redemption was God’s plan from before
the foundation of the world. It’s a display of His amazing
Grace and love for His creation.
In the parable, the vine growers see the son and take the
opportunity to exercise greed.
They know that the law in that day had a practice related
to owner-less property (if land didn’t have any owners,
the first person who staked a claim would be able to
rightfully claim it). When they saw the son, they may
have believed that the owner was dead and by killing the
son they would have rights to the land as their own, no
more rent to pay. They would own it outright.
They were being selfish.
Finally, we see
In v.9 Jesus asks a question, what will the owner of the
● Destroy the vine growers
This equates to condemnation for rejecting God
If Israel continues to turn their back on God and reject
His grace, they will judged for their works
● Give the vineyard to others
This equates to God’s offer of salvation to the Gentiles
It’s incredible because we are included in that. Because
of God’s grace and His justice, those who trust in Jesus
are reconciled to God and put in right standing with Him.
Jesus was the one who was rejected, but God said in the
OT that He was the stone which the builders rejected and
He would be the cornerstone. Jesus is the only way to
God. Those who reject Him will receive His justice not His
grace. They have essentially rejected His grace.
As I was preparing this message, I had every intent of
sharing the application as a call to go and bear fruit.
While there is nothing wrong with that, today I want to
challenge you to do something else.
I think the takeaway from this parable is for us to
Know God Intimately.
It’s not enough to know His commands and know His
word. We need to know Him and listen to Him so we can
obey Him. The problem of the Jewish leaders was that
they didn’t know Him. They knew about Him, but they
didn’t have a relationship with Him. We can have that.
He desires that we know Jesus came to take our place and suffer on our behalf.
Spend some time getting to know Him and thanking Him
for His selfless act of Grace
Experience His Grace Daily
We are our own worst critics.
We know every impure thought we think, we know every
coarse word we speak, we know every sin we make and
we often have a difficult time accepting God’s grace.
God’s grace is abundant.
Paul even said God gives grace upon grace.
Isn’t that encouraging?
Spend some time today basking in God’s grace.
Receive it and offer it up to others.