“A man planted a vineyard and build a fence around it and dug out a vat under the winepress and built a tower. He leased out the land to some farmers and left on a journey. When it was time for harvest he dispatched a servant to the farmers to collect some of the fruit of the harvest from the farmers. They grabbed him and beat him and sent him away with nothing. So he sent another servant, and they threw rocks at him and wounded him in the head, and sent him away with shame. Once again he sent another, and they murdered him. He sent many others – some they beat and others they murdered. He had one more to send – his beloved son. He sent him after these others, thinking, ‘They will surely respect my son.’ But those farmers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir, let’s go ahead and kill him and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body outside the vineyard. What should the master of the vineyard do now? He will surely go and destroy the farmers and give the vineyard to others." (Mark 12:1-8)This parable - better, analogy - by Jesus has been grossly misinterpreted by sectarian teachers. Jesus is illustrating an aspect regarding the relationship between those of the material world and God - and those the Supreme Being periodically sends here to preach.
The meaning of the symbolism of Jesus' parable:
The vineyard owner represents the Supreme Being. He is the Creator of both the spiritual and material worlds.
The vineyard represents the physical world. This is the world that we are temporarily occupying. It is temporary because these physical bodies will die within a few decades.
The farmers represent each of us individually, and collectively, the human race historically.
The lease of the vineyard represents our current status within the physical world. The entire physical world is virtually on loan to us because these physical bodies will die and we will have to leave them behind. Our activities during our lifetime within our physical body would be comparable to whatever actions the farmers should choose to take during the term of their lease.
The harvest represents the results or purpose of our actions of this lifetime. Whatever we do here while we are living in these bodies has consequences or results. If the purpose of our activities is geared towards ourselves - with a self-centered purpose - this would be analogous to the farmers keeping all of the harvest for themselves. However, should a person's purpose for at least some of their activities be to please the Supreme Being and serve Him in some way: That would be analogous to the farmers giving up some of their harvest to the vineyard owner.
By giving the vineyard owner a portion of their harvest, they would be effectively paying for their lease. We don't really have a lease to pay the Supreme Being for living here. But we do have a debt to pay to the Supreme Being.
What is this debt?
The debt is related to the unconditional love God gives us. But this love also encompasses everything we are given by God - meaning our environment, learning experiences and so on.
The Supreme Being's love for us doesn't require us to love Him back (part of unconditional love). But such a love creates a debt if that love is not reciprocated to an extent that is possible for us.
This opens up a little-realized aspect that many sectarian institutions do not want to accept: The reality that God is a person. He is an individual with an individual personality. He is not some vague force or void as many would have it. And God did not become Jesus so He could suffer on the cross - an unbelievably nonsensical twisting of the scriptures.
In fact, the reason these sectarian institutions and their teachers would have us believe that God is a vague force or void is that they want to continue ignoring the Supreme Being. They want to live in the world without acknowledging the wonderful loving nature of the Supreme Being.
They are ignoring the very Person that Jesus loved. The very Person that Jesus worshiped when he knelt down and prayed to God:
“Abba – LORD, everything is possible for You – please let this cup be taken from me – yet not what pleases me but what pleases You.” (Mark 14:36)
Who was Jesus praying to?
If Jesus is God, why was he praying to do what pleased God instead of what pleased himself? Furthermore, who would Jesus be praying to if Jesus was God?
It would be nonsensical for Jesus to pray to God if he were God. Or ask God if he could do God's will rather than his own will.
Yet these sectarian teachers and their institutions want to continue to ignore the Supreme Being, even when they see clear evidence that Jesus was God's loving servant and representative - not God Himself. Jesus said many things to illustrate this other than the prayer above:
"By myself I can do nothing; As I hear, I make choices, and my choices are just because I do not seek to please myself but to please Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
"For I have descended from the spiritual realm not to please myself but to please Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
“My teaching is not mine, but comes from He who sent me." (John 7:16)Jesus said many other things that clearly indicate that he is God's representative.
This parable, about the vineyard owner, the farmers and the owner's son, also illustrates this relationship.
What does the 'son' symbolize in this parable?
The vineyard owner's son in the parable represents God's representative - as God's representative is directly sent by God. In this particular case, God's representative is Jesus. This is confirmed by the fact that the farmers murdered the heir and threw his body outside the vineyard.
Note the distinction between God and God's representative.
In Jesus' parable, does the son replace the father - the vineyard owner? No. The son was his father's representative. He went to collect some of the harvest on behalf of his father. He was representing the vineyard owner. This is clearly Jesus' role - as God's representative.
But sectarian teachers choose to ignore these true teachings of Jesus. They want to see Jesus in a more limited way. They want to use Jesus for their own purposes of salvation. So they have made up a narrative despite Jesus' own teachings about himself. Why?
Because they want Jesus' to suffer for them.
They want to create an easy facility that allows them to feel free from the responsibilities for their actions. They want to relieve themselves of the consequences of self-centered activities.
So they teach that all we supposedly have to do is accept that Jesus died for my sins and whoosh - we are cleansed of sins.
Such a doctrine teaches people to believe that they have no responsibility for their actions. They can just wipe it all off on Jesus and everything is fine. This is why mafia mobsters go to confession and then go back out and rob and kill some more. Because they feel they can just be washed off by Jesus' crucifixion and won't be responsible for their actions.
Why do we find some of the most vicious mobsters remaining members of sectarian churches while they continue to commit gruesome crimes? Because they believe they won't be responsible for their actions. They think they can continue to hurt people without consequence.
Certainly, there is a consequence - for every action with self-centered purpose. It's not that we can just wipe off the dirt onto Jesus' crucifixion.
This is why Catholic mobsters will still go to jail and why Catholic priests will still - either during this life or the next - suffer the consequences of molesting children. Because that is the nature of the physical world - it was designed as a place of consequence.
For those who seek to come to know and learn to please the Supreme Being, we can see Jesus in another light. We can see Jesus as God's representative and perfect loving servant.
How can one realize this true position of Jesus? Jesus himself taught how one can see Jesus as he is:
"A person who seeks to please Him will know whether these teachings are from God or whether I speak from myself." (John 7:17)So we find here that Jesus provided the litmus that gauges how a person can understand Jesus' role and position. One can know Jesus' role and position once a person seeks to please God.
This is what Jesus was all about. His life was all about pleasing the Supreme Being. Why? Because Jesus loved the Supreme Being. He was committed to the Supreme Being.