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Archive for December 18th, 2018


Mark 12:1-12: Wicked Tenants and Temple Authorities

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

We will find this same story again in Matthew 21 (vv. 33-45) and in Luke 20 (vv. 10-19).  This triple telling is likely an indication that Jesus told this story more than once and that Jesus struck home with his words.  Yesterday’s Noontime asked us to reflect on our stewardship of the gifts God has given to us.  Today we are reminded that our hard work will likely go unrecognized by those around us . . . but this will not matter since it is God’s recognition that matters in the end.  We are also reminded that we can expect our own company of wicked tenants and temple authorities just as Jesus did in his journey to Jerusalem and his final act of sacrifice.

“The parable of the wicked vineyard tenants forms the centerpiece of the Jerusalem ministry.  As an original parable of Jesus, it could express the constant reaching out by the long-suffering God for human response in the face of continued rejection . . . Mark locates this allegory of the rejection of Jesus by the Temple authorities at that point in the Gospel where Jesus, in conflict with Jewish authorities, is pointing to the emergence of the Christian community (the house that will be built on the cornerstone) . . . At the end of the parable, [Jesus’] questioners . . . perceive that the parable is directed against them”.  (Mays 916)

The world is full of “wicked tenants” who envy the good works they see others performing; and the world has many “temple authorities” who seek to control each breath others take.  We will not want to be caught up in the perverse envy and vicious greed we see in this story Jesus tells us so well; rather, we will want to prepare ourselves for the newness that is born out of the pain of rejection, for the hope Jesus brings out of the heartache of denial.  While our eyes are riveted on the loss of the vineyard, the death of loyal servants and a faithful son, Jesus focuses on the new disciples who will answer his call . . . and on the new life of a promising community.

We ought not fear the wicked tenants and temple authorities we encounter every day.  Instead, let us rejoice that we nestle side by side with a cornerstone that has been rejected for it is this rejection that we find a most meaningful life . . . a life promised by God, a life nurtured by the Spirit, a life shown to us by our brother, Jesus.


A re-post from November 15, 2011.

Images from: http://pastorgregumc.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/got-milk-1-peter-22-10/

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 1203. Print.

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