Mark 12:1-12: Which one did it hit?

“Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall round it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed.Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. ‘He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, “They will respect my son.” ‘But the tenants said to one another, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. ‘What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: ‘“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes”?’  12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.”NIV

I read a book in which someone said, ‘If you throw a stone into a pack of dogs, you can tell which one it hits. It’s the one that yelps!’ Reading verse 12 automatically reminded me of those words. It looks like the whole ‘pack’ was hit by this ‘parable’.

Whenever I read this story, it never ceases to amaze me how Jesus distilled the story of the Bible, the history of Israel culminating in the gospel, into just a few lines. It shows how powerful one well-painted picture can be; how subversive its influence. It doesn’t have to be a long sermon; it doesn’t require a lot of words, to make an impact. Jesus held up a mirror and the religious leaders saw themselves looking back. No wonder they yelped!

Jesus ‘made the Pharisees realise how clearly he foresaw the fate which they were preparing for him. They were accustomed to apply Ps.118:22 to the Messiah, and recognised at once what Jesus meant when he claimed it as an emblem of his own rejection.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, pp.426, 427.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you whet my appetite to be a better communicator. Please enable me to speak with your wisdom, clarity and economy – and to strike oil!