Jesus often taught in parables to point out true meaning. Noah Webster defines a parable as a representation of something real in life or nature, from which a moral is drawn for instruction. Mark 12:1-12 NKJV shows us a parable that Jesus taught the people regarding a vineyard owner. It reads, Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some. Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying,’They will respect my son.’ But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard. “Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” [Psalm 118:22-23] And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.
Let’s take a look at the characters in this parable and see who Jesus is referring to. The Owner is God. The Vineyard is the nation of Israel. The servants are the prophets. The vinedressers are the Israelites, namely the teachers of the law, who rejected the Son of God. The son is Jesus. Jesus quotes a Scripture they would all be very familiar with-Psalm 118:22-23 and points out that He was rejected. Strong’s Concordance for rejection #593 in the Greek is apodokimazo meaning “to reject as the result of disapproval”. The teachers of the law had a magnanimous disapproval rating of Jesus. But why? I always had the notion that is was their unbelief. Verses seven and eight shed a different light.
These verses say, “But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.” I do not recognize any disbelief here. Since a parable is a representation of something real in life, we can concur that the vinedressers, or teachers of the law, knew the son was really the Son of God-Jesus the Messiah. They wanted for themselves what He had. That would be a breaking of the tenth commandment of God handed down by Moses. Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Covet is not a word we use often. It’s common synonym is envy. You know, the green eyed jealousy monster that rears its ugly head in all of us from time to time. What were the teachers of the law jealous of? Power? Prestige? Adoration? Probably all of the above and then some. Jesus rocked their world upside down and verse twelve tells us they were afraid, not only for fear of the unknown, but also because they knew He was speaking about them. Jesus knew their thoughts. They believed. They just rejected that belief.
James, the brother of Jesus addresses this very subject in James 4:2-3 which says, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Where did this covetous road lead? To Calvary. Jealousy fueled the fire that led Jesus to a cross. Make no mistake, Jesus laid down His life of His own volition. The vinedressers though had the son killed and threw him out of the vineyard. Jesus was letting the teachers of the law know that they would follow suit.
THE REAL REASON for rejecting the Son of God was their selfish ambition and resulting envy for who Jesus was and His inheritance as King of kings and Lord of lords. Indeed jealousy is a monster of tremendous proportions. Jealousy has the power to rob of us truth and cause disbelief. It must be dealt with at the root. Truth that Jesus is who He said He was. Truth that He is returning soon. Truth that every Word of God is flawless. Truth that all men are made in the image of God and are to be loved, not plotted against. Reject jealousy and embrace the Son.