Feb. 22nd 2011
The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, until there was only one left – his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ “But the tenant farmers said to one another
, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. Mark 12:5-8
This is the end of a parable Jesus told about a man planting a vineyard, leasing it to some farm
ers, and then sending his representatives to gather the owners share of the harvest. The tenant farmers repeatedly kill the representatives, and keep the owners share for themselves. Finally, in a last ditch effort the owner sends his son, thinking that the tenants will respect him. Instead the farmers kill him also.
The point of the parable is quite obvious. The owner is God who lovingly and in great detail creates this beautiful earth, making provision for its inhabitants to have income, resources, and protection. The farmers are the humans the owner placed in the creation. More specifically I suppose these farmers are the Jewish nation, especially the religious leaders, the Pharisees. The servants sent to collect the owners share are the prophets and priests and kings and leaders God has repeated used to call the humans (Jews and us) back to accountability. The Jews continually rejected these clarions, and the owners “covenant”. Finally, God sends his son whom he loves dearly, and they also kill him.
I’m struck today with the end of verse 7: Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves! What audacity and pride to think that somehow being hired hands emboldens them to take over God’s creation. These Jewish leaders were so full of themselves, and so empty of God, that they believed their screwed up law keeping religion could somehow manage all of God’s creation!
I fear that we must not see this parable only for the Jews! I fear there are some Christians even today who get a little experience or exposure to the good things of God, and instantly begin telling God how things ought to run. I shudder at the pride and audacity I see in too many Christians who think God’s warnings are only for someone else. I have come to despise the self-righteousness that assumes their way is the only way, that their interpretation is the only right one, that their church or brand of religion is the only one God is blessing. I loathe the Christian who thinks they’ve got it all figured out, and makes a play to assume the estate for themselves! I cringe at what these foolhardy souls have done with Jesus!
Lord, help me to hear your voice in the ancient word today. Help me to care for my little part of the vineyard, recognizing my tenant status with all I think I own. Give me grace to share generously with you, your rightful share of all my resources. Help me welcome and hospitably receive your Son, wherever I encounter Him today. Help me never succumb to the temptation that somehow I can manage this estate better than you. I’m your hired hand – period!