1538.) Mark 12:1-27

I have seen vineyards on four continents but some of the most beautiful, in my opinion, are in Sonoma County, California.

I have seen vineyards on four continents but some of the most beautiful, in my opinion, are in Sonoma County, California.

Mark 12:1-27

(New Living Translation)

Parable of the Evil Farmers

(When I tell the Gospel of Mark, I divide the audience into two groups.  One joins me every time I say “this man,” and the other joins in — venomously! — when I say “these tenants.”  I have reworded the text slightly to allow this audience participation.)

1 Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “This 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 this man leased the vineyard to these tenants and moved to another country.

2 At the time of the grape harvest, this man sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3 But these tenants grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed.

4 This man then sent another servant, but these tenants 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. This man finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’

7 “But these tenants said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 8 So these tenants 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—this man will come and kill these tenants 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 tenants. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.

Taxes for Caesar

A Roman imperial denarius (the coin Jesus asked for) was silver with the picture of Emperor Tiberius. These coins were minted from 14 to 34 AD.

A Roman imperial denarius (the coin Jesus asked for) was silver with the picture of Emperor Tiberius. These coins were minted from 14 to 34 AD.

13 Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 14 “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?”

Can you see their smug faces?  If Jesus says yes, then he grants to Caesar, rather than God, sovereignty over the nation of Israel.  If he says no, it could be construed as treasonous.  Ah, they think he cannot win!

Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” 16 When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

His reply completely amazed them.

A coin with the emperor’s image on it belongs to the emperor.  But we, who have been made in God’s image, belong to God.  Jesus clearly wins this round!

Discussion about Resurrection

This is amazing! I found the picture from the first wedding! See the groom (who will soon die, poor thing) and all his brothers!  And the long-suffering bride!

18 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead.

The Sadducees, who followed only the Five Books of Moses, spun an imaginary story to make the whole idea of resurrection look ridiculous.

They posed this question: 19 “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 20 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 21 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. Then the third brother married her. 22 This continued with all seven of them, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman also died. 23 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

24 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. 25 For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.

26 “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 27 So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error.”

So Jesus uses one of the Five Books of Moses, Exodus, to prove that they are wrong!  Another brilliant victory for Jesus!



Recently I have said good-bye to two wonderful women, dear friends of mine; the Lord has taken them to their new home in Heaven.  And my father died just six months ago.  So I am reading this question from the Sadducees differently now, and thinking of what it will be like there, with the angels and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the others who have gone before.  These thoughts are more interesting to me now as I am older than they were when I was younger, and I look forward to singing my “Heaven Song” once I pass from time to eternity.  HERE  is Phil Wickham and “Heaven Song.”


(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


Rabbis interpreted the Torah, explained the Scriptures, and told parables.  Some traveled from village to village, teaching in synagogues.  Though they relied on the hospitality of others, rabbis were never paid.  They often took disciples who would study under their direction for years, traveling with them everywhere they went.  Study sessions were often conducted outdoors in vineyards, marketplaces, beside a road, or in an open field. Disciples would then go out on their own, holding classes in homes or in the synagogue.

Knowing more about the life of a rabbi sheds considerable light on the life of Jesus.  Remember Dan Brown’s enormously popular but historically flawed book, The DaVinci Code?  It advances the notion that Jesus was married.  Brown bases this assertion on the idea that Jewish society would not have allowed him to remain single.  Listen to what he says through the lips of his main character, Robert Langdon, “According to Jewish custom, celibacy was condemned, and the obligation for a Jewish father was to find a suitable wife for his son.  If Jesus were not married, at least one of the Bible’s gospels would have mentioned it and offered some explanation for his unnatural state of bachelorhood.”

Brown is right in one respect.  Most Jewish men married at a fairly young age, often between the ages of eighteen and twenty.  But he seems ignorant of the fact that rabbinic scholars spent many years in study and travel, causing some to postpone marriage until much later in life.  As David Biven points our, “A bachelor rabbi functioning within Jewish society of the first century was not as abnormal as it might first appear.  Rabbis often spent many years far from home, first as students and then as itinerant teachers.  It was not uncommon for such men to marry in their late thirties or forties.”

This fits perfectly with Jesus’ statement that “others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12), and Paul’s affirmation of singleness as well.  Singleness was not an impossibility, but a sign of a rabbi’s great commitment to God.



New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Leon Hardt Vineyards.   http://www.leonhardtvineyards.com/img/vineyardFall.JPG
parable of the evil farmers:  all art by Henry Martin.     http://www.sermons4kids.com/parable-tenants-ppt-slides.htm
denarius.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Emperor_Tiberius_Denarius_-_Tribute_Penny.jpg
wedding picture.   The bride and groom (center front) are Joe Orban’s grandmother and grandfather. He said the image was photographed in 1912 in New Jersey.  Before Joe’s father passed away he wrote a history of his heritage and gave Joe some old photos. This encouraged Joe to research his paternal heritage several generations to a small town on the Austrian-Hungary border.  In this old photo Joe’s grandfather, Youzef, was 24 and he thinks his grandmother, Ester, looks somewhat younger. Youzef traveled to the USA in 1904 at the age of 15 on a steamship and Joe found details of this from the Ellis Island entry records. The couple had 3 children, but two died in their teens. Within 7 years of this photo being taken, Ester died in the Great Flu Plague of 1919.

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