Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy10-12; Mark 12:1-27
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. 2 When it was time, he sent a servant to collect from the tenants his share of the fruit of the vineyard.3 But they grabbed the servant, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again the landowner sent another servant to them, but they struck him on the head and treated him disgracefully. 5 He sent another one; that one they killed. The landlord sent many other servants, but the tenants beat some and killed others. 6 Now the landowner had one son whom he loved dearly. He sent him last, thinking, They will respect my son. 7 But those tenant farmers said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 They grabbed him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 “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,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved