Today, we are going to see that God is good, patient, loving, and gracious. But we will also see that God’s patience does come to an end and God’s judgment must occur. I hope that what we are about to hear will encourage us and motivate us and transform us into deeper followers of Jesus.
Let’s take a look at Mark 12:1.
Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 2 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3 But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 4 The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. 5 The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, 6 until there was only one left—his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ 7 “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 8 So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. 9 “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. 10 Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. 11 This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’” 12 The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. (NLT)
From that parable by Jesus we learn five very important aspects of our Heavenly Father. So what do we see?
The Goodness of God
First of all, we see the goodness of God. God will always provide everything we need to accomplish His will for our lives. He is a good God. Let’s consider the parable.
Jesus says, A man planted a vineyard. This man also built a wall around the vineyard. This would provide protection from animals and thieves. Then the man dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice. The wall provided the protection and the pit provided a way for the vineyard to be productive. The pit would allow them to make juice, wine, or jam. This would be a productive vineyard. He even built a lookout tower. This tower is not a deer stand. This tower not only served as a lookout point at the top but housing for the farmers. This was a tower. The man, the owner of the vineyard, is a good owner who provides good things. He has provided everything needed to accomplish what a vineyard should accomplish.
The man in the parable represents God. Just as the man is a good owner God is a good God who provides everything we need to accomplish everything He wants us to accomplish. Psalm 119:168 says, “You are good, and You do only good” (NLT). Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (NLT). Over and over again the Bible reminds us of how good God is. I think the reason why it does that is because we have a tendency to forget the goodness of God when bad things happen. When the vineyard of our lives is attacked by an animal or a thief takes something away that doesn’t belong to him we question God’s goodness. When the vineyard of our lives experiences drought we wonder if God knows what He is really doing. Jesus said in this world you are going to have trouble and just because trouble happens and your life gets difficult does not mean that God is not good. God is a good God because He is going to give you want you need to accomplish His will for your life.
The Patience of God
Not only is God a good God, but He is a patient God. God’s patience has a long leash. The timer of God’s patience moves very slowly. At times God’s patience seems endless.
At this point in the parable you need to know that the farmer has leased out the vineyard to some farmers and the farmer moved to another country.
At the time of the grape harvest the owner sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. The farmers not only get to live at the vineyard, look over the vineyard, and work at the vineyard but they also get paid by what is produced. However, the owner also makes a certain percentage of what is produced.
However, these farmers decided they wanted the vineyard for themselves and to keep everything to themselves. At some point they decided to take control of the vineyard and claim it as their own.
So one day, at the time of the grape harvest, the owner sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back emptyhanded. If we would have been the owner and our servant came back beat up and emptyhanded we would have got Big Tiny, Crusher, and cousin Mega Tron and we would have went back to the vineyard, found the farmers, fired them, left them for half dead, and took all the income from the harvest… because we are vengeful.
But the owner of the vineyard. He is different. He is patent. Very patient. In verse 4 Jesus says, The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. I was already expecting the owner to bring down his wrath on the farmers earlier, but now I am really expecting the owner to do something. Surely, he will not let this go unanswered.
Jesus goes on to say, The next servant he sent was killed. The owner sends the first servant and the farmers beat him up. The owner sends a second servant and they beat him up and bash his head in. The owner decides to send another servant and this time the farmers kill the servant.
The owner decided to keep sending servant after servant after servant. The farmers either beat them or killed them.
What’s going on here? What is Jesus saying? First of all, you need to understand the vineyard represents the Israelites, the farmers are the religious leaders, and the servants are the prophets and messengers of God. The Pharisees don’t see themselves in the parable yet, but Jesus is setting them up. This parable illustrates God sending one prophet after another and each one being insulted, ignored, beaten, or killed. The last prophet and messenger God sent was John the Baptist and they had him beheaded. By sending His prophets and messengers throughout the centuries God was demonstrating His patience with the people. God was patient and persistent.
Before we move on, God does the same thing for each one of us. God sends His messenger into your life to share the gospel, to deliver God’s wisdom on a matter, and to give you God’s path for your life. For some of you, you were like the farmers who rejected, mocked, and ridiculed the messengers of God. Some of you had loving Christian parents who prayed for you, loved you, and shared God’s Word to you but you rejected them, made their life miserable, and disobeyed them and lied to them. Some of you had friends or family who tried to point you to Jesus but you shunned them, ignored them, and looked down on them. But God was patient. He sent more and more and more of His people into your life until one day you understood.
Some of you became a follower of Jesus then become a messenger of Jesus. You are now the one that God speaks through and you have been sent to share the gospel, God’s Word and wisdom with others. But you find yourself being rejected, ignored, belittled, and devalued by those you care about. Sometimes it is very difficult to be the messenger of God. But you will need to be patient, just like God was patient with you.
The Love of God
In this parable we have seen the goodness of God through God’s provision and we have seen the patience of God through the messengers He sends, but we also see the love of God through His Son He sent.
At this point of the parable Jesus surprises the audience. The owner of the vineyard has sent all of his servants, but there is one person he has yet to send. The owner decided to send his son whom he loved dearly.
The owner is thinking, “They insulted my servants, they beat my servants, they bashed their heads in of my servants, and they have killed my servants. Surely they will respect my only son. I will send him.”
But something terrible happened. Look at verse 7, “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 8 So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard.
Remember, the vineyard represents people. The owner knew He was sending His son into danger. But his love for the vineyard, commitment to the vineyard, and purpose of the vineyard compelled him to send his son, the perfect representative. But what happened? The farmers turned on the owner, killed his son, and threw is body out like common trash.
When I think of the parallels between the owner and God, and God sending His one and only Son into the world I kept help but think of statements in the Bible like 1 John 4:9 which says, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (vs. 9-10, NLT). Knowing what would happen, the Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to die for our sins.
This takes us to the judgement of God.
The Judgment of God
God’s patience is not endless. We think it is, but it is not. At some point with every generation and every person, God’s patience comes to an end. He is very patient and longsuffering when it comes to people rebelling against Him. However, there always comes a moment when that patience runs out.
At this point Jesus asked a question, “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Before anyone could answer Jesus gives the answer, “He will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others.” Jesus is illustrating to the farmers, the religious leaders of Israel, how God will cut them off and make a New Covenant through Jesus with all who will believe in Him for salvation.
But on a personal note, what I want you to see and hear is that not only is God a loving, gracious, forgiving, and patient God, but He is also a God of judgement. He doesn’t judge because He is mean, mad, or vengeful like fallen humans. He judges because He is holy and righteous and His nature and character demands that He judge sin.
Listen carefully, Hebrews 9:27 says, “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” (NLT).
- You will die some day.
- There is a judgment after you die.
- Your sins can be forgiven because of Christ.
- You can receive salvation.
The Grace of God
God never ends His story on judgement, but on grace because He is a God of grace. Look at verse 10, Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. 11 This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’”
After telling the parable Jesus offers another prophecy. While He came to die, His death is by no means the end – in fact it’s a part of God’s perfect plan of salvation. Jesus quoted from Psalm 118 when He said, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” Even though the religious leaders would reject Him, God would exalt Him. The stone the builders rejected would become the cornerstone (Acts 4:8-12).
This prophetic statement from Jesus is a reminder of God’s sovereign plan and of His incredible grace. While we may have taken His patience and love for granted, there is still hope. Jesus accomplished salvation and it is available for all who will believe.
What was the religious leaders response to this parable by Jesus? Verse 12 says, The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. (NLT)
Jesus used this story as opportunity to warn the Jewish leaders, but they would not hear. They continued in their plans to silence and ultimately kill Jesus.
But for you today, you must consider your own heart. How have you responded to God? How have you responded to His messengers and His message? God is patient, loving, just and gracious. I want to encourage you to respond with repentance, worship, obedience, and faith.