A Study in Mark, Week 6

The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem has come. Jesus’ ministry has shown us so many incredible things that we have a hard time remembering all the miracles, healing and teachings that took place. In fact, John’s gospel ends with this: “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (Jn. 21:25) Incredible.

But Jesus’ ministry is not coming to an end. It is just beginning! All of these incredible things that we have read so far have only neared us closer to the climax of Jesus’ life, his death and resurrection. Chapters 11&12 of the gospel of Mark teach us about several important factors relating to the culture into which Jesus entered.

Jerusalem, historically, has been one of the most important and influential cities in the entire world. In fact, if you look at ancient maps of the Middle East and Europe, Jerusalem is often placed in the very centre of the map, noting its importance to not just the surrounding cities and countries, but the whole world. Today, it is the capital city for three different religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the first place he heads is to the Temple. He has probably heard about the state of the Temple, but seeing it for himself makes him angry. His tirade in the Temple is completely justified. God had given man specific instruction several thousand years ago, and the people were explicitly disobeying those commands. From the very beginning, God has entrusted man with specific responsibilities. Genesis 1:26 speaks of God’s desire to create man in his image, and to task him with ruling over the rest of creation. What a big responsibility!

Our focus passage this week includes a metaphor of a vineyard. Jesus uses this metaphor a couple of times in his teachings because it is a great image of a living thing that either grows or dies based on how well it is worked and maintained. Our goal this week is to discuss the theme of stewardship. As Christians we have responsibilities that God has entrusted us with that we must take seriously.

Passage: Mark 12:1-12

1 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. 6 He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 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)

Questions:

  1. What stood out to you in chapters 11&12 of Mark?
  2. What are the ‘fruits of the vineyard’ that the servants come to collect? Why are they sent to collect them?
  3. What is the ‘inheritance’ that the tenants speak of in verse 7?
  4. What is the significance of the ‘cornerstone’ that Jesus mentions in verse 10? Where else is the term ‘cornerstone’ used in the New Testament? (Hint: Eph. 2:19-22, 1 Pt. 2:7)
  5. This parable highlights the attitudes and motives of the Jewish religious leaders in God’s vineyard. What do you believe God is looking for from the tenants of his vineyard now?
  6. On a piece of paper, list 5 strengths that you believe you have. Where are you putting those strengths to use right now? Where might you best put them to use in the future?

Prayer:
As Christians, we believe that prayer plays an important role in all aspects of our lives. We want to encourage you to pray that God will take what has been discussed and change your life. Be bold, and be brave as you reach out to ask for God to show you where you can best use your gifts for His Kingdom.