“On Your Mark”
God’s Vineyard (Chapter 12 Verses 1-12)
The vineyard of the Lord is of course the house of Israel (Isaiah 5.7), planted by the Lord and hedged around by God’s word (Law), protecting it from the Gentile world, constantly reminding Israel of a higher standard, and obligation. The provision of the Temple with its attendant priesthood, giving everything they ever needed, God could not have done more for Israel (Isaiah 5.4). Now these leaders to whom Jesus addresses this parable, God entrusted his vineyard (Israel) to, his most precious, treasured possession (v1). God expected a return for his investment (v2; Mark 11.12-14), a vineyard is expected to bear fruit. But this one did not. It is not the lack of productivity that is the focus here, but the vineyard management team, their performance, or lack of it. The number one excuse from the leaders of most of the stagnant, unfruitful causes in our land today is, we are called to be faithful, and we comfort ourselves in that we are being so. There was someone else who said that (Matthew 25.24-25), that is not enough, God demands a return, the normal rate of interest if nothing else (Matthew 25.26-27). When God sent his servants, the prophets, expecting to find the fruits of contrition, faith and obedience the very minimum return for divine grace, what happened? They flayed them (v3), and sent them away empty-handed (Matthew 23.24; Acts 7.52; Hebrews 11.37-38). Jesus does not mince his words. Beware everyone who would stifle God’s Spirit, and stand in the way of the Church’s reformation, revival and vision for the day. Let every one of us take note. God expects more than faithfulness, he demands fruit!
The incredible patience of God is displayed (vv4-5), preacher after preacher is sent, but to no avail. Well you would think enough is enough, the vineyard Owner will come and destroy these wicked rulers? No, (v6) the Owner has a Son, one Son, only one (John 3.16), so he sends him. In prophetic utterance Jesus predicts his own death at the hands of this same vineyard management team, he knows their murderous hearts and intentions. A prophetic word (v8) which proved to be deadly accurate (John 19.17; Hebrews 13.12-13). What would you do (v9)? Their own sense of self-justice will answer the question and vindicate God’s righteous judgment. The very grace in the warning (v12) goes unheeded. It was only fear of the folk which kept them from fulfilling that prophecy there and then. Jesus says, watch and pray! (Hebrews 3.12-15).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)