Why Would They EVER Think That?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy10-12; Mark 12:1-27

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Jesus spoke to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the winepress, and built a tower. Then he rented it to tenant farmers and took a trip. When it was time, he sent a servant to collect from the tenants his share of the fruit of the vineyard.But they grabbed the servant, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again the landowner sent another servant to them, but they struck him on the head and treated him disgracefully. He sent another one; that one they killed. The landlord sent many other servants, but the tenants beat some and killed others. Now the landowner had one son whom he loved dearly. He sent him last, thinking, They will respect my son. But those tenant farmers said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ They grabbed him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

“So what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10  Haven’t you read this scripture, The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 11 The Lord has done this, and it’s amazing in our eyes?”

12 They wanted to arrest Jesus because they knew that he had told the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away (Mark 12:1-12, Common English Bible).

All of us are around people who, from time to time, perhaps more often than that, make us stand back and ask ourselves, “Why would they EVER think that?”

There are a few catch phrases Jeff Foxworthy uses in his comedy acts. Of course his most famous is, “You might be a redneck.” We aren’t going to talk about that one. But, there are two others that I think fit pretty well. He uses both of these in the place of what I have for a title for this post. One says, “Hey, ya’ll watch this.” The second is, “Hold my beer.” Both replace the saying, “What were they thinking?”

Unfortunately, the problem is, they weren’t thinking. To Foxworthy’s way of thinking, “Hey, ya’ll watch this” and “Hold my beer,” is the prelude to some kind of incredibly stupid act on someone’s part. In his routine, it usually means a man.

Thankfully, the lesson is not a true story. It also isn’t meant to be humorous. Even without the humor, if true, we would be left thinking that nothing good could possibly come from this.

In the parable, the landowner is God. The servants he sent are the prophets. The tenant farmers are Israel (and probably could be considered many of us today), and the son, of course, is Jesus.

In a real situation, sending the first servant away empty-handed would probably be cause enough to get the landowner to go do some investigating of his own. Certainly, it would be the case after the abuse taken by two and three.

But truly, what would the tenants be thinking? We can kill the son and then the old man would let us inherit the property? That would have about as much chance of success as a ship made out of granite boulders. Of course, the owner would have them thrown out. That and worse after they not only abused and killed his servants but now killed his beloved son.

In the stories of the last few days of Jesus’ life, we might well ask ourselves what were they thinking. We might ask the question primarily because we know the rest of the story. That is something the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the teachers of the law and in particular, the High Council didn’t have. But, instead of following the signs, instead of paying attention to the things around them, they ignored and they punished. They were the tenants.

Earlier I said that today the tenants might be us. I think sometimes when we do things, particularly when we do them willingly, that go against the will of God, in other words, when we sin, we help kill the Son. We help drive the nails into his feet and hands.

There is, however, one thing we miss out on in the parable, GRACE. In the words of the story, there is no grace. “Well, Keith, the tenants didn’t deserve any grace after what they did.” And yes friends, that would be true. They used up any grace they may have had after they beat the second servant, for sure by the time they killed the third. When they started to sin, they never deserved grace again. And, because we sin, neither do we.

Earlier this week we talked about grace and we defined it as “God’s unmerited favor.” Grace is something we don’t deserve and yet God gives it to us anyway. And so I say, “Praise God for unmerited grace.” We are all going to need it.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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