The Parable of the Tenants
1Then Jesus began to speak to them in parables: “There once was a man who planted a vineyard # 12:1 The Aramaic can be translated “He planted a vineyard by a stream.” and put a secure fence around it. # 12:1 See Isa. 5:1–7. The vineyard is a metaphor for the promises of life and glory for Israel. The leaders of the nation were but tenants who were to tend the vineyard. The fence was God’s protection and favor that surrounded them. The winepress was the Holy Spirit, who gave them the inspired revelation of Scripture. The watchtower could speak of the ministry of the prophets, who were like watchmen on the walls for God’s people. He dug a pit for its winepress and erected a watch tower. Then he leased it to tenant-farmers and traveled abroad. 2When the time of harvest came, he sent one of his servants # 12:2 These servants represent the prophets whom God commissioned to take his word to the people, but they were rejected and persecuted. to the tenants to collect the landowners’ share of the harvest. 3But the tenants seized him and beat him and sent him back empty-handed. 4So the owner sent another servant to them. And that one they shamefully humiliated and beat over the head. # 12:4 Some Greek manuscripts and the Aramaic read “and stoned him.” 5So he sent another servant, and they brutally killed him. Many more servants were sent, and they were all severely beaten or killed. 6The owner had only one person left to send—his only son, whom he dearly loved. So he sent him to them, saying, ‘Surely they will restrain themselves # 12:6 The Aramaic is “They’ll be ashamed of what they’ve done.” and respect my son.’ 7But the tenants saw their chance and said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come! Let’s kill him, and then we’ll inherit it all!’ 8So they violently seized him, killed him, and threw his body over the fence! # 12:8 Jesus was the true Heir, who was crucified outside the walls of the city. See Heb. 13:12. 9So what do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? He will come and put to death those tenants and give his vineyard to others. # 12:9 The “others” is a hint of the gentiles who would receive the new covenant promises of God. See also John 15:1–2; Eph. 2:11–22. 10Haven’t you read what the psalmist said?
The stone the builders examined and rejected
has become the cornerstone,
the most important stone of all? # 12:10 See Ps. 118:22–23; Isa. 8:14–15; 28:16.
11This was the Lord’s plan—
and he # 12:11 Or “it.” is wonderful for our eyes to behold!” # 12:11 The Aramaic reads “This came from the presence of Lord Yahweh and is a marvel in our eyes.”
12Now, the chief priests, religious scholars, and leaders realized that Jesus’ parable was aimed at them. They had hoped to arrest him then and there, but they feared the reaction of the crowd, so they left him alone and went away.
Paying Taxes to Caesar
13Then they sent a delegation of Pharisees, together with some staunch supporters of Herod, to entrap Jesus with his own words. 14So they approached him and said, “Teacher, we know that you’re an honest man of integrity and you teach us the truth of God’s ways. We can clearly see that you’re not one who speaks only to win the people’s favor, because you speak the truth without regard to the consequences. # 12:14 Or “You don’t look into the faces of men” (before you speak the truth). So tell us, then, what you think. Is it proper for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
15Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why are you testing me? Show me one of the Roman coins.” 16They brought him a silver coin used to pay the tax.
“Now, tell me,” Jesus said, “whose head is on this coin and whose inscription is stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied. # 12:16 Actual coins from that era have been found with the emperor’s image and a superscription saying, “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus.”
17Jesus said, “Precisely. The coin bears the image of the emperor Caesar, so you should pay the emperor his portion. But because you bear the image of God, # 12:17 Implied in the text. The coin belongs to Caesar because it carries his image. We have an obligation to God because we carry his image. you must give to God all that belongs to him.” And they were utterly stunned by Jesus’ words.
A Question about Marriage
18Some of the Sadducees, a religious group that denied there was a resurrection of the dead, came to ask Jesus this question: 19“Teacher, the law of Moses teaches # 12:19 See Deut. 25:5–10. that if a man dies before he has children, his brother should marry the widow and raise up children for his brother’s family line. 20Now, there was a family with seven brothers. The oldest got married but soon died, and he had no children. 21The second brother married his oldest brother’s widow, and he also died without any children, and the third also. 22This repeated down to the seventh brother, none of whom had children. Finally, the woman died. 23So here’s our dilemma: Which of the seven brothers will be the woman’s husband when she’s resurrected from the dead, since they all were once married to her?”
24Jesus answered them, “You are mistaken # 12:24 Or “You wander off the path” (of truth). because your hearts are not filled with the revelation of the Scriptures or the power of God. 25For when they rise from the dead, men and women will not marry, just like the angels of heaven don’t marry. 26Now, concerning the resurrection, haven’t you read in the Torah # 12:26 Or “in the book of Moses.” what God said to Moses at the burning bush? ‘I AM the living God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? # 12:26 See Ex. 3:6. The implication Jesus is making is that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all alive (in glory) when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush. 27God is not God of the dead, but of the living, and you are all badly mistaken!” # 12:27 Or “you wander off the path” (of truth).
The Greatest Commandment
28Now a certain religious scholar overheard them debating. When he saw how beautifully Jesus answered all their questions, he posed one of his own, and asked him, “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest of all?”
29Jesus answered him, “The most important of all the commandments is this: ‘The Lord Yahweh, our God, is one!’ # 12:29 As translated from the Aramaic. 30You are to love the Lord Yahweh, your God, with a passionate heart, from the depths of your soul, with your every thought, and with all your strength. This is the great and supreme commandment. 31And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor # 12:31 The Aramaic is literally “your nearest,” which is a figure of speech for “your friend.” in the same way you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.”
32The religious scholar replied, “Yes, that’s true, Teacher. You spoke beautifully when you said that God is one, and there is no one else besides him. # 12:32 See Deut. 4:35. 33And there is something more important to God than all the sacrifices and burnt offerings: it’s the commandment to constantly love God with every passion of your heart, with your every thought, and with all your strength—and to love your neighbor in the same way as you love yourself.”
34When Jesus noticed how thoughtfully and sincerely the man answered, he said to him, “You’re not far from the reality of God’s kingdom.” # 12:34 Jesus tells the man that God’s kingdom is within reach. It is a present reality, not just a far-off concept. In Mark 11–12, the religious scholars (scribes) are mentioned a number of times. It was a religious scholar who questioned Jesus’ authority (11:27–28), and it was a religious scholar who questioned his interpretation of Scripture (12:28). Now, in the verses that follow, Jesus shows that they had taught a theology without knowing the reality of Christ, the Messiah. Every teaching needs to be weighed by the reality of Christ, not the traditions of men. After that, no one dared to question him again.
Jesus, Son of David—Lord of David
35While Jesus was teaching in the courts of the temple, he posed a question to those listening: “Why do the religious scholars say that the Messiah is David’s son? 36Yet it was David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who sang:
Yahweh said to my Lord,
‘Sit near me in the place of authority
until I subdue all your enemies under Your feet.’ # 12:36 See Ps. 110:1, the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament. Jesus is challenging them to consider that the Christ will be both God and man (David’s son and David’s Lord).
37Since David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?”
The large crowd listened to him with delight.
Jesus Warns Against the Religious Scholars
38Jesus also taught the people, “Beware of the religious scholars. # 12:38 The implied meaning of Jesus’ teaching is that we should choose carefully those we follow. The religious scholars are not rebuked for their plans to crucify Jesus, but for their flawed character. They love to parade around in their clergy robes and be greeted with respect on the street. # 12:38 Or “marketplaces.” 39They crave to be made the leaders of synagogue councils, # 12:39 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “the best seats [reserved for respected leaders] in the synagogues.” and they push their way to the head table at banquets. 40For appearance’s sake, they will pray long religious prayers at the homes of widows for an offering, cheating them out of their very livelihood. # 12:40 Translated from the Aramaic, which is literally “They eat of the household with the ladle of their tender prayers.” The implication is that the religious leaders would go and pray at the homes of widows, then intimidate them by asking for offerings. Beware of them all, for they will one day be stripped of honor, and the judgment they receive will be severe.”
The Widow’s Offering
41Then he sat down near the offering box, watching all the people dropping in their coins. Many of the rich would put in very large sums, 42but a destitute widow walked up and dropped in two small copper coins, worth less than a penny. 43Jesus called his disciples to gather around and then said to them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given a larger offering than any of the wealthy. 44For the rich only gave out of their surplus, but she sacrificed out of her poverty and gave to God all that she had to live on, which was everything she had.”