What does Mark 12:7 mean?
ESV: But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
NIV: But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'
NASB: But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’
CSB: But those tenant farmers said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'
NLT: But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’
KJV: But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
Mark 12:1 mentions that the landowner has planted the vineyard. It takes four years before a vineyard can be fruitful; for the tenants, that's four years of hard work with no contact from the landowner. In Jesus' time, in Galilee, rich men regularly buy up land and lease it to farmers while they live in another country. The landowners will send servants to collect some of the crops for payment. If the landowner disappears or abandons the property, it is legal for squatters to assume possession.
This explains why the parable's servants think they can kill the heir and take over the land. They seem to assume that the arrival of the son implies that the original owner has died; the death of the rightful heir would free the land for taking by the servants. Of course, the tenants are gravely mistaken. The owner lives and has the right to ask the civil government to expel the tenants by whatever force is necessary.
At this point in history, about five hundred years after the Jews returned from Babylon and rebuilt the temple and the wall around Jerusalem, the people appear to follow God more closely than ever before. No one sacrifices their children to Molech (Jeremiah 32:35) any more. Baal and Asherah worship are left behind (Judges 2:13; 1 Kings 16:33). The people perform proper sacrifices and hold feasts and generally live lives more in line with the Mosaic law.
Unfortunately, this behavior is mostly hollow ritual and tradition, especially on the part of the religious leadership. The defining characteristic of true reverence for God isn't diligence in following rituals and laws, but a readiness to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah, as John the Baptist taught.
Instead of honoring God as the source of every blessing, and recognizing their behavior as a sign of respect for God's position, the Jewish leadership withholds their hearts from God. In Jesus' parable, they are the tenants who kill the son. These religious leaders have remade Judaism so they receive the honor and the glory, just as the parable's tenants seek to receive all the wine.
Mark 12:1–12 takes place days before the crucifixion, while Jesus is in the temple courtyard, teaching. Chief priests, elders, and scribes—representatives of the Sanhedrin—have demanded to know the source of Jesus' authority to cleanse the Temple (Mark 11:27–28, 15–19). After exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus tells at least three additional stories that show how God will replace falsely-pious religious leaders with sinners who truly follow Him (Matthew 21:28—22:14). The second of these three stories is recorded here, in Matthew 21:33–46, and in Luke 20:9–19.
This chapter contains lessons taught by Jesus in various circumstances. He explains the eventual destruction of traditional Judaism, the relationship between secular and sacred obligations, the nature of the resurrection, and the most important of God's commandments. Jesus also expounds on Messianic statements in the Old Testament. Jesus also condemns the glory-seeking shallowness of the scribes, and extolls the virtues of sincere, faith-based giving.
Days before, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, hailed as a hero by the people (Mark 11:1–11). While teaching in the temple courtyard, Jesus shows superior understanding of Scripture over the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Mark 12:27–33), the Pharisees and Herodians (Mark 12:13), the Sadducees (Mark 12:18), and the scribes again (Mark 12:35, 38). Sadly, even in the instance where a scribe does understand Scripture, that is no guarantee he will follow it to its logical conclusion: Jesus (Mark 12:28–34). In contrast, a humble widow exemplifies the faithfulness and piety the leaders lack (Mark 12:41–44). Jesus leaves the temple for the last time to teach the disciples on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13). In Mark 14, He prepares for the crucifixion.
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 3/1/2024 3:34:08 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.