We are called to account for the opportunities presented to us by God.
After Jesus chases the money changers out of the Temple (Mark 11:15-17), the religious establishment questioned his authority. Jesus answers the question with another question that links him to John the Baptist. (Mark 11:27-33)
He then tells a story about a man who planted a vineyard and equipped with everything necessary for it to thrive. He rented the vineyard out but, when the owner sent servants to collect his share of the harvest, he was denied. The servants were beaten and the owners own son was killed. The owner finally returned to seek justice and turned the vineyard to other tenants. (Mark 12:1-9)
The vineyard refers to of Israel, the people of God. They had been set apart and cultivated to bring salvation to the world. The owner is God, who built the vineyard, providing blessing and privilege for His people. The tenants are the religious leaders, who were the responsible for oversight, and were accountable to God. Israel’s leaders were expected to cause growth and maturity in the people.
The servants represent the prophets; messengers God sent to his people warn Israel: "Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and laws, which are contained in the whole law that I commanded your ancestors and which I gave you through my servants the prophets." (2 Kings 17:13)
The owner's response reminds us that God will not be robbed of His glory. God’s plans will not be thwarted by the wickedness of men and sin will not go unpunished. The privilege of the harvest was given to others. The Gentiles would now be recipients of God’s message of salvation.
Once, you [Gentiles] were rebels against God, but when the Jews refused his mercy, God was merciful to you instead. (Romans 11:30)
Jesus connects the rejected son with the rejected stone that became the cornerstone. (Mark 12:10-12) The leaders who rejected Jesus didn’t realize how God would exalt him. Jesus is the cornerstone whose life and teaching are the foundation of the church.