Mark 12:1-5

Mark 12:1 (KJB)
And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

Then Jesus gives them another parable. This time He speaks of a certain man who plants a vineyard. Then it was hedged to protect it against wild animals who would come in and eat the fruit. Then to protect it against thieves, he built a tower so his watchmen could see over the whole vineyard and sound an alarm if anyone approaches it. Then that same man who would be expecting fruit at a certain time of the year had built a wine press which would have been made of solid rock for the purpose of crushing the fruit. Then while the vineyard was growing, he hired some husbandmen or farmers to care for the vineyard while he went away into a far country, for maybe business purposes or to create a market for his fruit. At this point we can safely conclude that only Israel is in view because the parable is being aimed at the religious leaders. After the start of the church at Pentecost, we could widen this parable to the body of Christ. It can be applied to the church as Christ has returned to Heaven and now He has let it out to farmers or pastors who will take care of the vineyard till He will return on the last day. As the leaders of Israel had made merchandise of the people of Israel, the false pastors down through the history, and including the present, in many of the churches have made merchandise of Godís people.

Mark 12:2 (KJB)
And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.

Now the time that the householder was away was not just a few months but it was for five years which was the time of fruit. (Lev 19:23-25 KJV) And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. {24} But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal. {25} And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God. Now he has everything set and sends servants to the farmers to begin to start harvesting the fruit. This was akin to God sending the prophets to Israel to teach them the way to get right with God again. Then when Israel was back on the righteous path again, she would bear fruit.

Mark 12:3 (KJB)
And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.

The tenants who worked the land for the owner had refused to give over the promised share of the vintage. Instead what they did was to catch the servant and beat him up and send him back to the owner of the land empty. Jesus could have been referring to John the Baptist as this one servant. They rejected John and eventually he was beheaded for his testimony.

Mark 12:4 (KJB)
And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.

God continued to send prophets to Israel and Judah but their stiffnecked rebellion cause them to reject every one. This shows the longsuffering of God but eventually the patience of God expires as His kindness is continually rebuffed. Eventually the northern kingdom went into Assyria and was never heard from again as they assimilated into their kingdom and Judah did not listen to the prophets which were sent to her either. (Jer 3:8-10 KJV) And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. {9} And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. {10} And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.

Mark 12:5 (KJB)
And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.

If you notice there is a progression of hostility, they just beat the first servant up but now their hatred for the truth has graduated into multiple murders. The owner of the vineyard had the right to send people to punish these evil tenants instead he is showing his longsuffering which God showed toward Israel as He continued to send prophets up until the time of Malachi. Then came the 400 years of silence and John the Baptist came on the scene who was the last prophet to Israel and they finally killed him.