On Monday night, Jesus stays with the disciples in Bethany, at Mary and Martha’s home. The following morning, Tuesday 11 Nisan, Jesus returns to the temple where he teaches again. This is the second day he is questioned by the religious leaders and found without fault. After this teaching he goes with his disciples to the Mount of Olives and tells them about the events to come. That specific conversation with the disciples is referred to as the Olivet Discourse.
After the second day of teaching, He returns to Bethany for the night. The synoptic gospels and John give us insights into what Jesus taught in the temple. One of the parables he tells in response to the religious leader’s attempts to foil him, is the parable of the tenants.
Jesus tells them of a landowner who places his vineyards in the hands of tenant workers. Just as in many regions today, tenant farmers lease the land, care for the crops and reap reward from the harvest with a set amount going to the landowner. The allegory tells us that the landowner sent his servants to collect his share. The servants were beaten, driven away, and some were killed. Finally, the owner sent his beloved only son. The tenants, rejecting the son, killed him as well.
In this story, the landowner represents God and the vineyard is His Kingdom. The tenants are Israel’s religious leaders who reject Him. The servants in this story are actually God’s prophets and those faithful believers. Of course, the beloved son is Jesus himself.
In Mark 12:19, it says that Jesus asked them: “What then will the owner of the Vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others”.
Jesus sees the temple ruler’s rejection of truth and their actions as exactly what their ancestors did – killing the prophets (servants) who were sent to correct them and turn their hearts to God. The characters were easy to identify and even the chief priests and Pharisees (temple tenants) recognized who Jesus meant. These religious leaders functioned strictly out of tradition and rigid law, with hardened hearts. They had no true love for God. Thus they rejected Jesus when He came speaking of grace, love, and forgiveness. They were angered at His non-traditional teachings and needed him silenced so they didn’t have to consider the error of their ways. This teaching ties in with the withered fig tree of the previous day.