Our services have officially started! In addition, we are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream or make it to the services!

The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.

Click here: Mark , to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 12:1-12, for the video feed, and follow the notes below. May the Lord speak into your hearts as you worship.

Mark 12:1-12, Jesus, The Rejected Cornerstone:

  • As we come to the opening of chapter 12, I’d like to remind you that Jesus was never surprized by His death. Maybe you never knew this… But Jesus lived with the anticipation of His coming death. In fact, He knew the details of what was gonna go down before the people who carried them out even knew the details.
  • Mark 8:31 says, “He began to teach His followers that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly.” He knew the details.

 

  • In chapter 10, verse 32, Jesus “said to them, ‘Behold, we’re going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn Him to death, hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.
  • No one else knew the details, not how it was going down or when. Yet, Jesus knew, and so as we approach the text in chapter 12, Jesus tells a parable to once again foretell what was about to happen. So it is Wednesday of Passion Week. On Monday they hailed Him as their Messiah. On Tuesday, they were amazed at Him and feared Him.

 

  • On this day, Wednesday, they can’t take it anymore. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders just questioned Jesus about the source of His authority. But they were rattled. The wanted to trap him in order to arrest and to kill him. And so the opposition of these religious leaders intensified.

 

  • And in a matter of hours, they would live out this parable. They would kill the beloved Son while seeking to steal his inheritance. They want the vineyard. And they won’t succeed.
  • So as we turn to our text, let us consider the rejection of the chief cornerstone by looking at this symbolic account of God’s dealings with Israel through the prophets concluding in the sending of the only begotten ‘son’, and the rejection and death of that son at the hands of those to whom Israel has been entrusted.
  • Now, in order to grasp this, let’s look the historical background that led to this moment.

 

  1. Understanding the Vineyard Parable:
  • Text – 12:1-
  • Explanation – “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower.” This is actually a quote from Isaiah 5:1-2. So why does Jesus quote this? Well it would be a very familiar one to all the listeners. In addition, this was a common trend in Hebrew agriculture.
  • They would plant grain on the flatlands of Israel, but on the slopes were the vineyards. Then built a tower in the middle of it. And so you did all these things expecting a produce of good grapes.

 

  • Illustration – Now what’s this about? Isaiah 5:7 says the following, “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, the men of Judah His delightful plan.” So God planted Israel, and He expected good grapes. But all He saw was bloodshed and distress.
  • So why does Jesus use the Isaiah passage Because He’s pointing out one very important issue. Turn back to Mark, the vineyard here is Lord’s and it is Israel.
  • Look at verse 1, everything was done that should have been done: a wall for protection around it; the wine press where the grapes were crushed; a tower that was used for the workers to find shade and shelter, and also to serve as a place to store the tools they used. Everything was done to make success out of the vineyard.
  • Now Isaiah’s case concerning the vine, it produced sour fruit; this being a symbol of their apostasy. They were characterized by immorality, injustice.

 

  • Now we travel down in history only to find the same issues are still there, and so Jesus uses the same picture to expose the problem. And in this picture, the vineyard has been fully prepared to rent it out to vine-growers. This wasn’t uncommon, even today farmers would rent out their ground to be worked.
  • They would go into a contract, which usually shares the produce and what not by between 30-50%. And at the time of the harvest, a slave was sent to the vine-growers for his share of the crop. This is to be expected. The authorized representative comes from the man to collect the contracted amount that is due to him. But in our story, this is really where things go wrong…

 

  • Application – Look at verse 3. It is translated as a serious beating. Folks hearing this would think it was outrageous behaviour! Verse 4 continues the trend. Again, literally, they bashed his head in… Verse 5, “He sent another.” And by this time, the crowd might be thinking, ‘Is that a good idea? You had one of them that was beaten severely, then you had the next one who has his head bashed in. You sure you want to send another one?”
  • Jesus continues, “He sent another one and that one they killed.” Do you see the escalation? Matthew 21:35 says “They stoned him to death.” And so it went on. But then we get to verse 6. He has sent all he has, but one, “a beloved son.”
  • At this point, the crowd has to be responding with awe! I mean, would he really send his son? His heir, the firstborn son, the most precious one in the house. But he sent him saying, “They’ll respect my son.

 

  • Conclusion – Verse 7-8… shocking isn’t? Not really, you could see this coming a mile away! Some might think it’s foolish, others would say it is unacceptable. So here comes the question in verse 9. Well, according to Genesis 9:6, it’ll be capital punishment for all of them.
  • According to Matthew’s account, the crowd shouted an answer: “Matthew 21:41 – ‘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.’”

 

  • Bridge – So Jesus has everyone’s attention. And Jesus affirms what they said, look at verse 9. But at this point, something interesting happens. Luke 20:16, in sharing the same account tells us that the crowd said, “May it never be!” this leads us to…

 

  1. The Purpose of the Vineyard Parable:
  • Text – 12:10-12
  • Explanation – So you see, the story is designed to escalate their hostility toward the tenant farmers for what they have done. But the religious leaders of Israel couldn’t tolerate something like this.
  • The crowd were in the temple area for the Passover. They were worshiping. They are on God’s side.
  • Illustration – So skip down to verse 12. Why this response? The crowd has made sense of the story… they put 2 & 2 together. They’ve been sucked into the story. They have now taken the side of the owner against the tenant farmers, which means they’ve taken the side of God against themselves.
  • Remember Isaiah 5? Who’s the planter? God. What’s the vineyard? Israel. Who are the vine-growers? They are the religious leaders. The ones who are given care over Israel, those who were to tend God’s people, the stewards of God’s possession.

 

  • Application – But in Christ’s story, they are wretched, they are hypocrites. These leaders have the responsibility before God to give the truth to His people. And they didn’t do that! So when it is time for the harvest, God comes to expect the spiritual fruit. But here we have how they have been unfaithful to Him.
  • Who are the slaves that He sends? The Old Testament prophets! God sent one after another, after another, after another to Israel to bring to the nation a reminder of His demands and an accusation of their sin. The prophets came and condemned the sin and called for repentance and righteousness.

 

  • Conclusion – That’s what they all did, to call the nation to produce the fruit for God’s honour and glory. To give God the harvest that He is due, to call the people to holiness and righteousness, and true repentance and faith in Him.
  • And what did Israel do with the prophets? Well, they rejected them. They mistreated them. They beat them, wounded them, heaped shame on them, threw them out and murdered them. That’s what they did. That’s their history.
  • Bridge – And so the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that, after God had sent his servants, including the prophets, his final message—was his Son (Hebrews 1:1–2). And even though the religious leaders would oppose and kill him, this was all a part of the plan. God was not surprised.
  • In fact, this was the plan! The prophets could only correct; they could only condemn. They could not save. The only one that could effect the needed transformation was the sinless Son of the owner of the vineyard. But for the transformation to take place, the Son would need to die. He would be God’s final word to whom the vineyard would respond, and who would bear fruit.

 

Application:

  • So back to the question; “What will the owner of the vineyard do?” “He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.” Imagine the impact of those words, you could hear a pin drop! They have been moved by Christ’s words, and they have made the connection that it is about Christ, so they would allow Jesus to be arrested.
  • Not in their presence anyway, which is why he was arrested in a secluded place on the next day (see John 18:19–21). And having asked and answered his own question, Jesus immediately asked a piercing question: “Have you not read this Scripture?

 

  • Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22–23: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
  • He proclaimed his victory over their plans. He proclaimed that He would complete God’s building. And still, they aimed for his destruction. None the less, He is the cornerstone! Meaning? The cornerstone was the last stone put in place, which held the structure together. And so Jesus is making a very strong point. He is claiming to be the key element in God’s dwelling place.

 

  • He was claiming to be the one who would ensure that God’s vineyard remains God’s vineyard. Jesus, the beloved Son, was sent to secure what belonged to the father. And even though these sinful leaders would kill him, he would be victorious in the end.
  • Because the vineyard exists for the Son. It is the Father’s gift to his Son. Kill him they would; but they won’t disinherit him! Because all of us who belong to Him have been given by the Father!

 

  • The religious leaders understood the point of the parable. But instead of repenting, they leave as ignorant as they came. So what is the point? In addition to Israel falling short if God’s glory, we do too! And we do so by resisting God’s ownership, we seek our own authority and try to keep the owner away while we go about ourselves.
  • Some cases are more severe than others! We might seek to kill God in our minds, others try to steal God’s glory by priding in themselves. And yet, God established the vineyard, cared for it, and built the winepress and tower.

 

  • And will continue to build the vineyard by sending the faithful, by adding servants to the harvest. We’ve had the prophets, and we have the Son, but still, He will send us! Why? Because God loves his vineyard and will see it bear fruit, even at the cost of the mistreatment of his servants.
  • Just look at the history of the persecuted church! Therefore we can comfort that God will have his fruit and will therefore will continue to send us into the harvest.
  • And how will the story end for you? Are a disobedient tenant. Or are you a faithful servant? Or do you want to be a servant? Well, if you repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who died for the sins of all who would trust him, you can be! Do not rejected the cornerstone, embrace Him, praise Him, and faithfully serve!