Written by Matthew Thompson
Mark 12:1 “And He began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.” In telling parables, Jesus sought out things that people already understood and were familiar with, and then used those things to teach them about God.
In Mark chapter twelve, Jesus begins to share The Parable of the Vinegrowers. In that day and time, it was common for land owners to set up a vineyard, and then lease it out to others who did the actual work of running it. In exchange, the workers would provide a portion of what they had produced back to the land owner, and keep the rest to sell for themselves.
In verse one, Jesus tells us that the land owner had taken care of everything required for the vine growers to be successful. The land had been prepared, a wall of protection had been built, the wine press was ready to be used, and the tower (whose upper level was a guard post and whose lower level housed the workers) was already in place. The vineyard owner had even started the seeds so that all the vine growers had to do was care for the plants and harvest the fruit.
In this parable, the vineyard was Israel, the owner was God, and the vine growers were the religious leaders who had been entrusted to care for the nation and to help bring in the Harvest that God had planted. It paints a picture of a God who has made provision for His people, and serves as a warning of what can happen when we try to labour in our own power.