The Parable of the
& Greatest Command
Mark 12:1 And he began
to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and
set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and
built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
This is a continuation
of his work in the temple on Tuesday, April 12, 30 AD. A certain man is God
who planted the vineyard Israel cf:
Psalm 80:8-15 Thou
hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and
A vineyard is a piece
of land to produce grapes and make wine but the Pastors and husbandmen would
destroy the vineyard cf:
Many pastors have destroyed my
vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my
pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take
away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the
wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
A common way of
inclosing fields was with thorns, thickset and growing.
A winevat is a pit dug
in which the juice from the winepresses would flow.
The tower was a
building in which the husbandmen dwelt. The owner let out this vineyard,
with all its fixtures, to husbandmen. They gave him his rent at the proper
This parable is to
represent that God planted a people in the land of Canaan and He hedged it
with divine protection. The winevat is typical of Jesus’ sufferings, and
the tower, the temple of God. Its management was entrusted to the priests
and Levites, and the scribes were the leaders. The tower was left to their
management, under the general direction of God’s laws and precepts.
12:2 And at the season
he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the
husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.
“at the season” he sent
a servant to collect his (the landowner) part of the produce; or, ‘collect
dispensation God sent his prophets to warn His people about their departure
from His law, and to demand the obedience and worship that were His dues.
12:3 And they caught
him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.
Three steps taken:
“caught”, “beat”, and “sent away empty”. The Jewish people, often led by
priests and Levites, did so to the Old Testament prophets sent of God.
The Prophets had come
to claim the peaceful fruits of righteousness cf:
How is the faithful city become an
harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now
12:4 And again he sent
unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him
in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
The Lord sent still
another servant demanding His due. They treated this one worse than the
first. One step in rebellion and sin prepares for another.
12:5 And again he sent
another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing
increases. The climax is now reached, the rest is simply repetition.
Jesus charges upon them
the blood of all the prophets, cf:
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and
some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall
ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth,
from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of
Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
One step after another
in the path of crime has been taken so that, in this generation, it shall
culminate in the sum of all crimes – the killing of the Son of God.
12:6 Having yet
therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying,
They will reverence my son.
The others had been
bondservants, slaves, in the Greek, but this is his own son. Thinking,
‘they will respect my son so as to heed what he says and pay the rent on the
vineyard’. He here, foretells his own death and he holds out the thought
that these religious teachers will do it.
The landowner’s son
comes to the vineyard, “sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an
ass.” But there had occurred a change in the hearts of the husbandmen from
“his” vineyard, to “our” vineyard. Cf:
John 11:47-50 Then gathered the chief
priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man
doeth many miracles. 11:48 If we let him thus alone, all men will
believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and
nation. 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest
that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 11:50 Nor consider
that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and
that the whole nation perish not.
12:7 But those
husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him,
and the inheritance shall be ours.
Do you realize what we
can do now? This is the heir, it’s his legacy. The ownership of the
vineyard is to be transferred to the son. Kill him, and it’s all ours.
“There will be no harvest without us, it’s our vineyard, we’ve done the
work!” Anger and greed capture the hearts of the husbandmen. Cf:
Hebrews 11:35-39 Women received their
dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting
deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 11:36 And others
had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds
and imprisonment: 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were
tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and
goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 11:38 (Of whom the world
was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and
in dens and caves of the earth. 11:39 And these all, having obtained a
good report through faith, received not the promise:
12:8 And they took
him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
Here, again, the three
steps were taken.
Jesus died outside the
gate of Jerusalem cf:
Wherefore Jesus also, that he might
sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
They have gone too far
to stop now! Cf:
And he sent, and beheaded John in the
12:9 What shall
therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the
husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
The design of this
question was that they might condemn themselves, and admit the justice of
the punishment that was soon coming upon them.
The landowner “moved
away”. Luke adds, “for a long time”. Today God has again let out his
vineyard to husbandmen, to the Church the professed followers of Jesus
Christ. Each of us has a part of God’s vineyard to cultivate. He has
fenced us round with promises and precepts, and given us the means for
12:10 And have ye not
read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the
head of the corner: cf:
Psalm 118:22 The stone
which the builders refused is become the head stone of the
This was first spoken
of David, rejected of his parents, or passed over, chosen of God, became the
builder of the kingdom of Judah. When the temple of Solomon was being
built, a stone was rejected of the builders until almost the building was
completed. Then it was seen to fit in the main arch and to be a key to hold
in position and give strength to the whole arch. Jesus was rejected by the
elders and the chief priests, yet, He became the headstone of the corner –
the central truth of the whole system of the divine government.
Isa 8:13-15 Sanctify
the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and
let him be your dread. 8:14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but
for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of
Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 8:15 And
many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and
Isa 28:16 Therefore
thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a
tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that
believeth shall not make haste.
This parable finds its
more complete fulfillment in the Christian system than in the Jewish. Today
religious teachers pervert the will of God, reject his divine authority
substituting ways of their own for the things commanded by God and sealed by
his blood, substitute for them, as did the Jewish priests and elders.
I Peter 2:5-9 Ye also,
as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to
offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 2:6
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a
chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not
be confounded. 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:
but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed,
the same is made the head of the corner, 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and
a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being
disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 2:9 But ye are a
chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;
that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of
darkness into his marvellous light:
Rom 12:1 I beseech you
therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a
living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable
service. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is
that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
12:11 This was the
Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
The ordering of things
which made the stone – Jesus - rejected by the leaders and teachers to end
up the head of the corner, was God’s overruling and controlling, and the
whole development. The whole process is a marvel and a wonder to the
universe. God put to shame them who are wise.
12:12 And they sought
to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken
the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.
That they wanted to
capture him expresses the effect the parable had upon them. Too many of the
enthusiastic Galileans were present. The scribes and Pharisees saw it was
aimed at them as the leaders and teachers. The people most anxious to
persecute are the most cowardly.
Mark 12:13 And they
send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in
Hate truly makes
strange bed fellows. This is like the KKK and the Black Moslems conspiring
together. Much like the Moslem parable: the enemy of MY ENEMY is my
Luke 20:20 And they
watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just
men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him
unto the power and authority of the governor.
To lay snares for a
good man is diabolical. Here enemies meet in their common hatred of Jesus.
His answer to their question in the next verse which they hoped he would
answer yes or no. Now they are trying him in a way which they had never
12:14 And when they
were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest
for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way
of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
This was a hypocritical
compliment, which was not believed by them but was artfully said, to conceal
their true plan.
The family name of
Julius Caesar, Roman emperor, applied to his all his successors. Common to
all the emperors, as Pharaoh was the common name of all the kings of Egypt.
They thought he would
be forced to reply “yes” or “no”.
12:15 Shall we give,
or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why
tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
They thought He would
be forced to answer as a rebel against Caesar, or a traitor to God, who’s
Son he claimed to be. But in this, as in all other attempts to ensnare him,
Jesus in a few words put them to flight.
Being divine, Jesus had
power to see and read their wicked thoughts.
Why try to lead me into
a snare? As deeply as they had laid their wicked plot, cunningly framed
their question, Jesus’ first word of His reply, he saw through it all –
detected their evil design and their hypocrisy.
The origional word was
a denarius, which was the Roman government’s foreign coin. Matthew 22:19
says: “Show me the tribute money.” Taxes for the temple service was paid in
the Jewish shekel.
Jesus wishes them to
see it with their natural eye as well as to hear it in words.
12:16 And they brought
it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and
superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.
By asking whose image
and superscription He is now putting them in the trap they set for Him with
one simple question.
Both the coin and
answer show submitting to Caesar’s government, and enjoying his protection.
12:17 And Jesus
answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and
to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.
Give to Caesar (the
civil government under which you live) all that is due him – what rightfully
belongs to him. Pay the taxes – pay him fully for protecting you. Caesar’s
image and name on money proved that it belonged to Caesar. It’s proper and
right to give it back to him, when he demanded it.
Do not forget that
you are obligated to God also. You must give to God what He claims. “Ye
were bought with a price;” Man is the coinage, and bears the image of God
created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them.
God demands that we
pay Him our due:
Not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but
exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day
Acts 20:7 And upon
the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break
bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued
his speech until midnight.
Mark 12:18 Then come
unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked
They came the same day
that Jesus put to flight the Pharisees and Herodians. The authorities now
try another plan by a different party.
The Sadducees were a
religious sect started about B.C. 260. A Priest named Zadok was founder of
the sect. They were opposed to the Pharisees and rightly rejected the
traditions of men. They disappeared from history after the first century.
The three Jewish sects were: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes.
12:19 Master, Moses
wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind
him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and
raise up seed unto his brother.
The children born later
would be recognized as the children of the deceased brother; to all civil
purposes they would be considered his seed and heir. Taking a deceased
brother’s wife, to give him descendants was a custom older than the law cf:
12:20 Now there were
seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.
12:21 And the second
took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.
12:22 And the seven
had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.
12:23 In the
resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of
them? for the seven had her to wife.
Having now cited the
law, they now state the case which they supposed was as difficult as
12:24 And Jesus
answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the
scriptures, neither the power of God?
As usual he answers
them in a way they were not expecting.
He strikes their
argument in its weak point – its assumption that marriage would exist in the
12:25 For when they
shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but
are as the angels which are in heaven.
Had they known the
scripture doctrine of the resurrection, they would have known that He could
raise the saints without those carnal inclinations.
12:26 And as touching
the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the
bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
Jesus now furnishes a
proof of the resurrection. These three had been long dead when Moses wrote
this: Abraham 329 years; Isaac 224 years: and Jacob 198 years.
They must be still
12:27 He is not the
God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
This answer is
especially aimed at the Sadducees who accepted only the writings of Moses as
inspired. So Jesus quotes to them from the writings of Moses teaching of
Dead is used here in the sense of
extinct, as the Sadducees used the word dead. God is not the
God of the non-existent. He does not rule over those who are extinct
or annihilated. He is the God only of those who have an existence.
If this was admitted, then there was a state of rewards and punishments.
Then it would easily follow that the bodies of the dead would be raised. The
raising is of the dead body, the soul is never referred to as being
resurrected cf: Matthew
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and
perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first
commandment of all?
Matthew says, “A
lawyer.” The man was both a scribe and lawyer. The Sadducees and Pharisees
were consulting and planning together after the defeat of the Sadducees and
the lawyer heard them.
This was a decision of
the lawyer because of the great answer given by Jesus to the
Sadducees on the resurrection.
This point was often
disputed by the doctors of the law. The purpose of the lawyer was to
test Jesus’ knowledge of the law.
12:29 And Jesus
answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel;
The Lord our God is one Lord:
These are the words in
which every Israelite, each morning, confessed his faith in the Lord” Cf:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
The word translated
is a compound unity singular and is used in Hebrew to denote more than one
becoming or being one. Strong�s
says united, one, first, alike, altogether. A perfect Old Testament word
used to describe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Examples of e-had being used as a compound unity singular are:
2:24 Therefore shall a man
leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they
shall be one flesh.
8:31 And the
LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of
flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there
remained not one
is a completely different word from:
says: The only one, solitary, unique.
Examples of ya-ch-iyd being used in Scripture is;
22:12 And he
said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him:
for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son,
thine only son from me.
And I will pour upon
the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of
grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have
pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only
son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness
for his firstborn.
distinction was clearly understood by Jesus when He taught in Aramaic and
when the Holy Spirit inspired the New Testament writers to distinguish
between the two in Greek.
Jesus uses the Greek compound unity eis hi-ce, meaning number one
versus mono, which means one and only.
Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O
Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
And said, For this cause shall a
man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain
shall be one flesh?
12:30 And thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with
all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy might.
These present what
should be the attitude of the heart. Love to God must fill the whole heart,
in which personal consciousness originates, the whole soul, faculty of
feeling and desire, whole understanding, all the powers of thought and
will. It is called “the great and first,” but because in observing it all
others are observed.
12:31 And the second
is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Here Jesus quotes cf:
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy
people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
Even the love of God
itself is to manifest and actualize itself by love to man – by love to all
men, more particularly by brotherly love.
There is none greater
because a part cannot be greater than the whole, for every commandment is
included in obeying these.
12:32 And the scribe
said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God;
and there is none other but he:
None of the schools of
thought among the Jews could deny this proposition. The acknowledgment of
the one true God must accompany all right views of His law.
12:33 And to love him
with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul,
and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is
more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
The scribe’s answer has
a change in the wording, yet the idea is essentially the same.
Realize the immense
stride this man took in this explicit endorsement of Jesus, to displease his
companions, and that it bears testimony to the enthusiasm which must have
filled his heart.
12:34 And when Jesus
saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the
kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
One’s proximity to
the kingdom of God is not an estimate of distance, but preparation and
purpose of the heart. By virtue of His approval He gave evidence of His
nearness to the kingdom of God.
The result of all
their questioning had been to silence the incorrigible and convince the
teachable, it was a losing business to His enemies. The scribe was near
the kingdom, he needed another step to get into it, the unreserved
committal of himself to follow Jesus in love. Where are you? All His
opposers are silenced, and the last one who represented them is almost
brought into the number of disciples.
And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the
scribes that Christ is the Son of David?
The attempts of His
enemies to ensnare Him did not unnerve him in the least. As soon as his
victory was won, He immediately proceeded with His regular teaching.
Up to this time Jesus
had been acting on the defensive; but now turns to the offensive and
convicts the scribes and Pharisees with ignorance and false notions of the
Matthew 22:41-42 says:
“Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a
question, saying, What think ye of the Christ? Whose son is he? They say
unto him, The son of David.” Their reply was correct.
12:36 For David
himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my
right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Jesus quotes cf:
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine
enemies thy footstool.
Thus David spoke of the
Messiah as his Lord, his superior and sovereign. On the throne beside me,
not merely as a position of honor, but as a partner of God’s sovereignty and
A stool for thy feet
implies their utter defeat and their most abject subjugation. The foot was
often put on the neck of the vanquished.
12:37 David therefore
himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the
common people heard him gladly.
acknowledged Him as his superior and sovereign, from what source – by what
means is he His son, and hence his inferior? One can only answer by
acknowledging both the divinity and humanity of Christ. It is thus answered
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of
David according to the flesh; 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God
with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from
The Pharisees worldly
views of the Messiah, had lost sight of His divinity, they only held to His
humanity as a royal descendant of David. If they had understood the true
character of the Christ, they could have answered by saying, “As man, He is
David’s son; but as God, David’s Lord.” He had an existence at the time of
David, and was David’s Lord and Master.
All except the elders, chief priests,
lawyers and scribes heard the teaching of Jesus gladly. The rich and the
great were too proud to listen to his instructions and humble themselves to
And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to
go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
Be on your guard
against the teaching of the scribes. All their passion, their love and
desire of display and honor is “to be seen of men.” They go around
displaying themselves as much as possible “to be seen of men.” cf:
They love to go
in long clothing.
Long, flowing robes, reaching to the feet, similar to those worn by Romish
priests, and were worn by the scribes as a kind of professional attire, in
order to attract attention. When Christ sent his apostles out to preach, he
directed that they should be clothed as the common people cf: Mark
6:9 and Matthew 10:10.
12:39 And the chief
seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
The seats usually
occupied by the elders of the synagogues, near the pulpit. These were the
most honorable positions at the table during public feasts.
Brother B.W. Johnson
said: “Everything which would lead the world to suppose that there were
ranks and grades among the apostles as servants, they were to avoid. But
they were not to receive it. It was to be unknown among the disciples.
This title Rabbi corresponds with the title “Doctor of Divinity,” and other
degrees as applied to preachers of the gospel. The Savior’s command is
violated by the reception of such a title or titles as it would have been by
their being called Rabbi. There should be no distinction among preachers.
It tends to engender pride, and a sense of superiority in those who obtain
it; envy, a sense of inferiority in those who do not; and the whole spirit
and tendency of it is contrary to the simplicity and the purity that Christ
envisioned for the Church.”
12:40 Which devour
widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive
These are other evil
traits of character of the scribes; who under the pretense of counseling
widows and managing their estates rob them.
Their prayers were
made long in order to more effectually accomplish the evil purpose. The
damnation was greater because the wickedness was greater.
appellations of honor and respect, such as Rabbi, Father, Master, Teacher.
Men often profess a desire to magnify their office, when in truth they want
to magnify themselves. They love robes that advertise to every one that they
are separate from the rest of the people.
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast
money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
The receptacle into which the people
deposited the contributions which the law of Moses required all of them to
bring when they came up to the annual festivals cf:
Jesus sat opposite
to and in full sight of the treasury. “Many,” not all of the wealthy gave
Treasury is a
name given by the rabbins to thirteen chests, called trumpets, from their
shape, which stood in the court of the women, at the entrance to the
treasure-chamber. "Nine chests were for the appointed temple tribute, and
for the sacrifice-tribute; that is, money-gifts instead of the sacrifices;
four chests for free-will offerings, for wood, incense, temple decoration,
and burnt offerings. Jesus beheld how the people cast money. Jesus
still takes note of our offerings.
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make
Here, as in other
places in the Bible, we must remember the exceedingly destitute condition of
a poor man's widow in
Israel in the first
century. Two mites was the smallest of Jewish coins, about the value
of one-fifth of a cent. It took its name from its extreme smallness.
Mark 12:43 And he
called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto
you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast
into the treasury:
That is, more in proportion to her
means, cf: 2 Corinthians
It was, in the widow’s case, a
freewill offering. Notice
Jesus uses the word more-. Proportionately, to her and thus more
in the estimation of God, who measures quantity by quality.
Mark 12:44 For all
they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all
that she had, even all her living.
Of their store …
They have given what they did not need. They have shown no self-denial.
She did voluntarily
what Jesus had commanded the rich young ruler to do; though poor herself,
she gave her all.
The worth of a gift
is to be determined, not by value, but by what it costs the giver.
The measure of that cost is what is left, not what is given. For the
widow to give her mites was noble; for one well off to give "his mite" is
All that she had,
all her living.
In love she devoted all to God, with strong faith in His ability to supply