God’s Word of Prayer
Mark 12:1-17: Jesus continues teaching by means of a parable about tenants in a vineyard. The religious leaders question him about paying taxes.
The Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard
(Matthew 21.33-46; Luke 20.9-19)
1 Then Jesus spoke to them in parables: “Once there was a man who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to tenants and left home on a trip. 2When the time came to gather the grapes, he sent a slave to the tenants to receive from them his share of the harvest. 3The tenants grabbed the slave, beat him, and sent him back without a thing. 4Then the owner sent another slave; the tenants beat him over the head and treated him shamefully. 5The owner sent another slave, and they killed him; and they treated many others the same way, beating some and killing others. 6The only one left to send was the man’s own dear son. Last of all, then, he sent his son to the tenants. ‘I am sure they will respect my son,’ he said. 7But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the owner’s son. Come on, let’s kill him, and his property will be ours!’ 8So they grabbed the son and killed him and threw his body out of the vineyard.
9“What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do?” asked Jesus. “He will come and kill those tenants and turn the vineyard over to others. 10 Surely you have read this scripture?
‘The stone which the builders rejected as worthless
turned out to be the most important of all.
11This was done by the Lord;
what a wonderful sight it is!’”
12The Jewish leaders tried to arrest Jesus, because they knew that he had told this parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.
The Question about Paying Taxes
(Matthew 22.15-22; Luke 20.20-26)
13Some Pharisees and some members of Herod’s party were sent to Jesus to trap him with questions. 14They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you tell the truth, without worrying about what people think. You pay no attention to anyone’s status, but teach the truth about God’s will for people. Tell us, is it against our Law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor? Should we pay them or not?”
15But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you trying to trap me? Bring a silver coin, and let me see it.”
16They brought him one, and he asked, “Whose face and name are these?”
“The Emperor’s,” they answered.
17So Jesus said, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”
And they were amazed at Jesus.
Today’s Key Verse: Mark 12:17a
Jesus said, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”
The vineyard is a conventional metaphor for Israel, with God as the planter. How do you interpret this parable? How did the religious leaders react? Jewish people in Palestine had to pay taxes to the Romans who controlled their land. The emperor was the highest Roman leader. If Jesus had told the Pharisees that they didn’t have to pay taxes, Jesus could have been accused of rebelling against the Romans. How did Jesus respond to question about paying taxes? Reread verse 17. What is your understanding of this verse?
Holy Jesus, beloved Son of God, plant your teachings within my heart. Nurture my faith so that I may serve you each day as a fruitful disciple. Amen.
Mark 12:18-44: Jesus teaches about the most important commandment and commends a poor widow for her offering.