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What You Do

SUFFERING KING: THE BOOK OF MARK:
What You Do: Mark 12:1-12
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday January 10, 2021

GEICO makes great commercials.

The made one about horror movies. The actors argue quickly over hiding in the basement or the attic as they’re running away from a would be murderer. The voice over narrator says, “if you’re in a horror movie you make poor decisions its what you do”. It’s funny because it’s true of horror movies why not run away, why not run outside, why run upstairs? It’s a well worn story, that we all know the conclusion to – they run into danger and make bad decisions.

In the same way, the sinful heart resists God, sinful people resist God, it’s what they do. GEICO was onto something.

Does God make people make sinful decisions, no, it’s what they do. Or, more specifically more hauntingly, and more importantly – it’s what we do.

Jesus is in this scene now in the temple that God has given them as part of an order that God has given His people. They have everything they need in leaders, land, and ways for protection – these people are to produce fruit by this way of living; but they’re not. God has time and time again sent prophets and messengers to them to correct their wrong way(s), they’ve treated them poorly and even killed them.

In this we’ll continually see what we do, which is choose sin, what God does which is express patience and call, and finally – the looming reality of judgement (after a chain of decisions). We’ll see those decisions can be in us (choosing what we do, like the GEICO commercial) or… inspired by Grace which requires repentance.

Mark 12:1–12 (ESV)
The Parable of the Tenants
1 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country.

Jesus is using a theme that wouldn’t be new to folks. Let’s read from Isaiah –

Isaiah 5:1–8 (ESV)
The Vineyard of the Lord Destroyed
1  Let me sing for my beloved
my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
2  He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
3  And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4  What more was there to do for my vineyard,
that I have not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?
5  And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
6  I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and briers and thorns shall grow up;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.
7  For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
but behold, bloodshed;
for righteousness,
but behold, an outcry!
Woe to the Wicked
8  Woe to those who join house to house,
who add field to field,
until there is no more room,
and you are made to dwell alone
in the midst of the land.

Jesus’ parable aligns so well to this song from Isaiah 5. Here, Jesus tells the story of the vineyard where God owns it, Israel is that vineyard lacking nothing fo the production of wine. Provided everything needed as Jesus shows, a fence, a pit, a tower- the entire operation. At this point in the story – I’m sure their minds are on Isaiah 5 – just as I the horror film, we know there going to make the bad decision. Jesus’ story if it follows the plot line of Isaiah 5 is going to point to failure and judgement, lets see…

2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.

Fruit from the vineyard – so if we’re following this story, God sent dulos, slaves to collect of the fruit from the vineyard – Matthew and Luke provide more dimensions to this story in true synoptic gospel style showing that the slaves are first sent in singles then groups – thinking of the prophets that came to Israel across time.

Let’s see how Jesus keeps going with his parable. Remembering that Jesus has just come to His final days – cleansed the temple a second time calling his house a “house of prayer for all nations” in verse 16 of chapter 11, he’s come in 20-25 with His disciples into Jerusalem cursed the fig tree that was looking like it *should be bearing fruit but was not, then His approached by the leaders (chief priests, scribes, and elders) trying to trap Him into a claim for deity so that they could murder Him, Jesus puts them in a precarious position demonstrating their existence outside of alignment to the people they lead over John –

In Matthew’s Gospel in 21:33-46 he tells this same scene and adds detail around one other parable Jesus told before this one to the leaders, just after the John question, just before the vineyard it went like this:

Matthew 21:33-46 (ESV)
The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country.
34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit.
35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.
36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them.
37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’
39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.
44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.
46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

Matthew 21:28–32 (ESV)
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.
30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.
31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

JUST after that, back in Mark’s telling we’re here now Jesus will work into that familiar story from Isaiah 5.

These guys are having a bad day.

3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

This language is stronger as Jesus says it – he says they “flayed” him, you’d imagine him going back very un-healthy. Think:

Hebrews 11:37–38 (ESV)
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—
38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Jesus’s parable was designed to deliver a, wow I didn’t see that one coming or a “that escalated quickly” response from the hearers. To this point, everything was normal but it got weird quickly. The land owner provided the land, cleared the stones, built a wall built a tower for storage and security, a vat to collect the wine cleared the fields, this was a turn key operation and a normal deal yet these winegrowers were so outrageously criminal they brutally beat this servant coming to collect normal rent or yield from an arrangement like this.
You can almost feel the heavy discomfort as Jesus is telling this story to the leaders who’d just refused to answer the question on John, in the synagogue, in Jerusalem, now in Jesus’ passion week.

They’re going to kill Jesus, He has been telling everyone that, he’s foreshadowing that now and warning of the consequences, but they’ll do it anyway – not because God made them do evil, in fact rather God will ultimately use their evil for triumphant transcendent Good, but rather, they’ll kill Jesus because its what we do, we choose sin.

4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully.
5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.

Perhaps you’re thinking, this is soo unrealistic, who would send person after person to be beaten, tortured, and even killed… that’s the point of God’s faithfulness towards us even though denying him is… “what we do”.

Note the themes in 4 and 5, you’re almost taken by why keep sending so many to be treated so awfully? Until you step back into the parable Jesus is telling these are the prophets coming to God’s people…

6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

They asked Jesus by what authority He did the things he was doing – HE didn’t answer them, then He told this story. God is the owner of the vineyard, it’s tenants are the leaders (likely in front of Jesus now the servants are God’s prophets – here Jesus pierces the 4th wall and enters into His own story, God’s own son…

God’s own Son was sent; and logic says “they will respect the very son of God”; but they did what people do, resist God. Everyone knows that in the horror movie, they make bad decisions, in the same way a biblically informed mind knows that people by their nature, resist God. Let’s see how Jesus paints this:

7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

Themes here made sense to Jesus hearers – they had some perceived gain in doing this – some worldly focus. Perhaps they’d know that the ownership of property and rights would shift if they killed the man son so they had gain to be had in killing him off.

This was about prophecy of Jesus and it’s amazing that the story continues from here in Jesus turning over to the Romans to be murdered.

Though He is here telling them what they’ll do, they do it anyway; because that’s what people do, we reject God and choose sin, it’s what we do. And it’s what they’ll do to…

This parable is so interesting because it talks about the killing of the servants. Don’t miss this – scripture tells us, of God’s providence. When we read Isaiah in the 50 chapters, if you’re familiar with the gospel accounts of Jesus like the one we’re studying now it sounds really familiar – Isaiah who told of that wonderful messiah was cut in half by his own grandson.

Read the books of Samuel, Kings and Judges these are the people who had scripture, the law, and … the prophets. God has given everything needed but continually God’s messengers coming to call for or collect fruit; this is God’s grace and patience, maybe you’ve made decisions against God from your nature, maybe even after salvation, and God is patient and ever-calling of you…

Romans 2:4 (ESV)
4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

His forbearance and patience are designed to bring us to repentance.

Keep hearing Jesus out in this parable:

9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.
10 Have you not read this Scripture:

Rutro, their minds are in the scriptures – the Isaiah 5 story ends in judgement so where will Jesus take this?

“ ‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
11  this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

The cornerstone – the one that sets the house right. Jesus is quoting here from

Psalm 118:20–24
20  This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21  I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22  The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23  This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24  This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

But this group isn’t rejoicing – what are they doing? Verse 12

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

It’s like that GEICO commercial, they decided not to run into the running car and escape, not to flea to safety, not to repent of their evil ways they did what people do, they ran away from the light of the world from the corner stone the marvelous thing that the Lord is doing, and ran to sin because it’s what we do.

God’s patience is incredible but, it is not perpetual it’s designed so that we’d snap out of it, see the truth of Jesus, see God’s goodness and grace, and turn to Him.

In this we continually saw what we do, which is choose sin, what God does which is express patience and call, and finally – the looming reality of judgement (after a chain of decisions). We saw that those decisions can be in us (choosing what we do, like the GEICO commercial) or… inspired by Grace which requires repentance.

This is the call to us, will be make those decisions in response to grace or in response to our nature?

God’s patience is incredible but, it is not perpetual it’s designed so that we’d snap out of it, see the truth of Jesus, see God’s goodness and grace, and turn to Him.

In this we continually saw what we do, which is choose sin, what God does which is express patience and call, and finally – the looming reality of judgement (after a chain of decisions). We saw that those decisions can be in us (choosing what we do, like the GEICO commercial) or… inspired by Grace which requires repentance.

Remember in Jesus parable we see all that God has done to prepare a way of life for us. The wall, the tower, the land, the vineyard – God looks for fruit.

This is the call to us, will be make those decisions in response to grace or in response to our nature?

Romans 2:4 (ESV)
4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

His forbearance and patience are designed to bring us to repentance. That’s a decision NOT from our nature, but as fruit of His patience and grace and goodness in his Son, Jesus that He sent.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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