What Jesus Did! 'Beating the Servant' — Mark 12:1-3

Thursday, August 22, 2024

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Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: "A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed."
— Mark 12:1-3 NLT

Key Thought

The symbols in this story were familiar for Jesus' audience. The vineyard would instantly be recognized as the nation of Israel, also known as God's chosen people. The tenants would be recognized as the leaders of the Israelites. They were given a beautiful and good vineyard in which to work. But, these leaders began to feel the vineyard was their own. They forgot it belonged to someone else and so they abused the vineyard owner's servants. These servants would be recognized from the Old Testament as God's messengers, the prophets. There were bad times in Israel's past when the prophets came with God's message, and they were abused, mistreated, and even killed. Jesus' message in today's verses had a clear historical connection, but we can carry away a powerful reminder for ourselves from the implications of the first part of the story. So often, we begin to view God's Kingdom, God's people, God's gifts, as our own. We forget that all we have is "on loan" from God and is to be used for him and his purposes. What we are and what we have are not ours by right, but by grace. We must never forget it.

Today's Prayer

O Father, you have blessed me so incredibly. My physical blessings are wonderful. My spiritual blessings in Christ are beyond description. Thank you. Please help me always to remember that my blessings — my finances, my opportunities, my abilities — are from you and help me to use them to your glory. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • 2 Kings 9:7
  • Jeremiah 35:15
  • 1 Corinthians 4:7


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Illustration of Mark 12:1-3 NLT —  At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop.

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.