“Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away” (Mark 12:12).

Mark 12 begins with a parable (12:1-12): A wealthy man creates a vineyard and does all to make it successful. Then he rents the vineyard out to others who then lay plans to steal it from him – refusing to pay the owner his share of the crop, treating shamefully his emissaries, and eventually, killing the son of the property owner. Jesus ends the parable with a warning that the vineyard workers will be put to death and then cites Psalm 118 praising the triumph of the vineyard owner – who, in this case, is God.

It’s not surprising that the Jewish leaders “got” the parable. As it begins, it sounds very much like the parable of Isaiah 5, a parable of condemnation for Israel’s spiritual barrenness. But the citation of the Psalm at the end takes the focus off of Israel and places it on the leaders who have hijacked the vineyard of God for themselves, laying plans to kill the vineyard owner’s son: Jesus.

A similar hijacking happens today when people take the Church, God’s vineyard, for themselves recreating it in their own image – an image more palatable and appealing to themselves and (they say) the world. The result however is the ruination of God’s vineyard and an exchange of the “Body of Christ” in which the blessings of heaven are found for “The Church of What’s Happening Now” in which no heavenly blessings are found.

Important to keep in mind.

Reading Through the Bible, Sunday, October 23. Mark 12 – 15

    When the Pharisees and Herodians came to test Jesus, have you ever wondered why Jesus had no coin of his own?

    I realize the text doesn’t actually say that he had no coin, you might wonder why, if he had his own, he didn’t use it.  The coin he asks for is a denarius, the daily wage of the working man.  Here was a group of people who had money, arguing with a man who had none, about the propriety of paying taxes.

    But then again, they weren’t really interested in paying taxes.

    They remind me so much of some disciples today who major in minor things – things that have nothing to do really with what God has actually said – in order to cover up their inattention to major things that God really spoke about.  When Christian people, for example, in an effort to stand for truth, turn mean and hateful, it will not matter what truth they are for, their proclaimed faithfulness is overshadowed by the hardness of their heart.

    Mark really shines in these lessons.  By looking at the people who opposed Jesus, and the people who followed Jesus, and being honest about them both, he gives us a compendium of behavior we can match with our own lives to see if we are truly disciples of the Lord.