Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Whose Vinyard are You Working?

Mark 12:1-11 NLT
  1 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. 2 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3 But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 4 The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. 5 The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, 6 until there was only one left—his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
  7  “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!’ 8 So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. 9  “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. 10 Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected  has now become the cornerstone. 11 This is the LORD’s doing,  and it is wonderful to see.’”

The mastery of a truly great teacher is that he or she can take real life and use it to instruct, represent, illustrate, and clarify the truth that must be learned. Jesus is, after all THE teacher so it is no wonder he was able to have such wonderful lessons that appear to come out of thin air and make sense of the world and of faith. Jesus was not hiding truth but representing it in terms that his hearers could relate to. They were farmers and vine dressers, and herdsmen, and fishermen, humble hard working people under the thumb of a disobedient ruling class of religious thinkers who were driven by greed and self preservation rather than service. Hence this story-- God is the Farmer. The share croppers are the Pharisees and Sadducee's, who had only loan of the land for a time. The many servants were the many prophets God sent to call Israel to account and repent over the millennia of its history. The Farmers only son was, of course the Christ whom God sent KNOWING he would be killed. Not only this, the Son came, himself knowing this was why he must come-- to be killed as a sacrifice for the sins of the very ones who would kill him.

In Marks Gospel, as in the others, it is clear, when we read a modern translation, that the religious leaders knew well whom they were dealing with, and simply did not want to relinquish power over people, over Israel, and over their own lives. So much like people today who refuse to say 'no' to self and 'yes' to God, they invert the correct action into a rejection of God's ultimate show of love. Should you confront them about it, they distract with twisted lies and misstated facts so as to prevent themselves from having to confess their sin and evil. In the end, that evil will be revealed to all the universe.

For now, we have been given the task to encourage all of 'them' to find the forgiveness from God that we all so desperately need. We have been called to persist in presenting the claims of Christ over their objections, over their rejection, and especially over their persecution of us as the image-bearers of Christ. It is not ours to retaliate for such persecution but to rejoice that someone sees Christ so clearly within us that they would bother. If the Enemy senses we are a threat, then there will be persecution. If you are not being persecuted, could it be that you are not threat to the Enemy's power? In fact are you with the tenant farmers or with the people from The Farmer?
Your servant in Christ's love

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