What does Mark 12:9 mean?
ESV: What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.
NIV: What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.
NASB: What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and put the vine-growers to death, and give the vineyard to others.
CSB: What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill the farmers and give the vineyard to others.
NLT: What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?' Jesus asked. 'I’ll tell you — he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others.
KJV: What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
Jesus is telling a parable filled to the brim with metaphors. He is telling the religious and civil leaders of Jerusalem that they have rebelled against God and beaten and killed His representatives. This refers to the prophets of the past, and will soon include God's own Son. In response, God will destroy Israel, exile Judaism, and give the spiritual blessings and protection He intended for the Jews to the church.
This is one of those verses that needs to be defined by what it doesn't say as much as by what it does. Strains of theology teach that either the Christian church has replaced Israel, in God's affections and plans, or that the Christian church is joined with Israel as God's chosen people. This "replacement theology" teaches the church is now the recipient of the promises God made to Israel. This is not what this or any other passage of the Bible means to imply. Such thinking leads in many harmful directions, and it deeply misinforms many end-times beliefs.
God works throughout human history in different ways. Each different way corresponds to a specific era or dispensation. From the time of the Mosaic law until the resurrection of Jesus, God worked in the world primarily through Israel. He nurtured, protected, equipped, and blessed the Jews so that when the savior promised in Genesis 3:15 arrived, Israel would be prepared to spread this information to the world.
When Jesus does arrive, Israel refuses its God-given task and kills their Savior (Mark 12:8). God had always planned to use Israel to spread the message of salvation to the Gentiles. He had always planned for the Gentiles to be brought to fellowship with Him (Isaiah 42:6; Luke 2:32). While the learned Jewish leadership rejects God's plan of salvation, God uses fishermen (Mark 1:16–20) and tax-collectors (Mark 2:13–14) and tent-makers (Acts 18:1–3) instead.
The church has been given the mission of spreading the gospel, but it has not replaced Israel. In the end times, God will restore Israel and the Jews will hold a prominent position in the world and His plan.
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.
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