Parable of the Evil Farmers – Mark 12:1-11

Grapes on the vine-eJesus was a great story-teller who used stories to teach lessons. Here is one he told while in Jerusalem:

Mark 12:1-12 (NLT)

Parable of the Evil Farmers

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.

Jesus knew that the religious leaders were plotting to kill him. In this parable he was represented by the son of the owner of the vineyard that the wicked farmers killed. The wicked farmers were the religious leaders.

Who were the earlier servants that were beaten and sent back empty-handed by the wicked farmers? John the Baptist would have been one for certain. Others would have been the prophets of the Old Testament who had been mistreated and whose counsel had gone unheeded.

Let’s bring this story home into our own day. How are we treating the servants who bring us God’s Word? How do we treat his Word – the Bible? How do we receive Jesus into our own lives? Would Jesus consider us faithful farmers or wicked farmers in this parable?

It was the jealousy, contempt, and hatred the religious leaders had for Jesus that moved them to have him crucified. Those same attitudes toward Jesus today are barriers that will keep many from entering God’s eternal rest.

About Janice D Green

Janice D. Green retired as an elementary librarian to write children's books. She is author and publisher of The Creation and The First Christmas, Bible storybooks for children. Her passion is to write about the Bible in a way that encourages young families to want to read it for themselves.

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