Mark: According to
By What Authority
Before we begin, I have been asked why I refer to the days of the week at 1st day, 2nd day and so on, then giving their modern names. At creation and all through the Bible the days are referred to by their number with the following exceptions. The seventh day of the week is referred to or called the Sabbath and we see this firmly established in Genesis 2:1-3 along with the Exodus 20:8-11. The only other day that is given a name other than a number is the sixth day, which is our modern Friday. In the New Testament it is often called the Preparation day, that is the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42; John 19, 14, 31, and 42). So, whenever I write I use the Biblical name for the day which is a number accept for the 7th, which God set apart from the others, calling it a Sabbath, and sixth day, which is sometimes called the preparation day, as the day was spent preparing for the Sabbath.
27 Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. 28 and they said to Him, By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things.?”
As the official guardians of the Law, the members of the Sanhedrin had both the right and the responsibility to investigate anyone who claimed to be sent by God; and that included Jesus (see Deuteronomy 18:15-22). However, these men did not have an open mind or sincere motives. They were not seeking truth; they were looking for evidence to use in their attempt to destroy Jesus.
Jesus knew what they were doing, so He countered their question with another question and exposed their hypocrisy. 29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: 30 The baptism of John – was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.”
Why bring the conversation all the way back to John the Baptizer? For a very good reason: God does not teach us new truth if we have rejected the truth He has already revealed. The basic principles is expressed in John 7:17: “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself” (NASB). The Jewish religious leaders had not accepted what John had taught, so why should God say anything more to them? Had they obeyed John’s message, they would have gladly submitted to Christ’s authority, for John came to present the Messiah to the nation.
Oh, wow, now the Jewish leaders were caught in a dilemma of their own making. They were not asking “what is true?” or “What is right?” but “What is safe?” This is always the approach of the hypocrite and the crowd-pleaser. It certainly was not the approach of either Jesus (Mark 12:14) or John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7-10). Jesus did not refuse to answer their question; He only refused to accept and endorse their hypocrisy. He was not being evasive; He was being honest.
31 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, If we say, “from heaven,” he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “from men” – they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. 33 So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things,”
Before the authorities had the opportunity to escape, Jesus told them a parable that revealed where their sins were leading them. They had already permitted John the Baptist to be killed, but soon they would ask for the crucifixion of God’s own Son!
12:1 Then he began to speak to them in parables: A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And He leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 2 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. 5 And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many other, beating some and killing some. 6 Therefore still having one son, His beloved, He also sent Him to them last, saying, “They will respect my son.” 7 But those vinedressers said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” 8 So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not even read this Scripture; The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 11 This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes?” 12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable again them. So they left Him and went away.
The vineyard was a familiar image of Israel (Psalm 80:8-16; Isaiah 5:1-7). According to Leviticus 19:23-25, a farmer would not use the fruit until the fifth year, but I am unsure the Jews were obeying this regulation at the time. In order to retain his legal right to the property, the owner had to receive produce from the tenants, even if it was only some of the vegetables that grew between the rows of trees or vines. This explained why the tenants refused to give him anything. They wanted to claim the vineyard for themselves. It also explains why the owner continued to send agents to them; it was purely a question of authority and ownership.
If the centuries before Christ represent the three years when the fruit was not used, then it was in the parables fourth year that the beloved Son was sent. This is the year when the fruit was devoted to the Lord (Leviticus 19:24), and it makes the sending of the son even more meaningful. If the tenants could do away with the heir, they would have a clear claim to the property; so they cast him out (see Hebrews 13:12-13) and killed him. They wanted to preserve their own position and were willing even to kill to accomplish their evil purpose (see John 11:47-53).
Jesus in Mark 12:9 posed a question to them: “Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do?” Jesus did not wait for them to answer for he continued talking by saying, “He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others.”
The fig tree had been a fitting symbol of the fact that the Jewish nation looked good on the outside, but they had failed to produce the fruit necessary, fruit that the owner of the vineyard expected. Therefore the tree was cursed, the blessing was removed, and Jesus tell His audience what will happen.
Jesus does not give them a moment to speak for he continues by quoting a passage that all knew referred to the Messiah “Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 11 This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’” The quote comes from Psalms 118:22-23. Jesus by associating himself as the cornerstone was telling them that He himself was the promised Messiah who the owner of the vineyard set to gather the fruit of the harvest together than was supposed to go to the owner, which is God. This is the same psalm at His triumphal entry (Mark 11:9-10). “The Stone” was a well-known symbol for the Messiah (Exodus 17:6; Daniel 2:34; Zechariah 4:7: Romans 9:32-22; I Corinthians 10:4 and I Peter 2:6-8). Jesus the Servant-Judge announced a double verdict: they had not only rejected the Son, but they had also refuse the Stone! Therefore, there could only be one consequence – Judgment. The tree that stood so lush and full of leaves rotted from the roots up because it rejected the Son and the Stone which caused the tree to produced no fruit.