Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church April 8th, 2020 Hunkered Down Devotions
Mark 12:1-11 (VOICE)
Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.
3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully.
5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read the Scriptures? As the psalmist says,
The stone that the builders rejected has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation. 11 This is the work of the Eternal One, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Today is Wednesday of Holy Week and we are now headed full steam towards the events in the Upper Room tomorrow (Maundy Thursday) and the cross on Good Friday. The passage above is Jesus telling the parable of the Tenants.
The parable of the Tenants is not one of the more popular parables. It is a bit strange and doesn’t have that ‘feel-good’ quality that so many of the better-known parable have (think the prodigal son).
Instead, this parable is really a hint to the disciples and all who would listen about what was going to happen to Jesus. Jesus is, of course, the ‘son, whom the father loved’. Instead of being accepted and respected, as would be expected, the son is disrespected and killed.
Jesus explains the meaning of the parable by quoting Psalm 118, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.’ Jesus lays out for all of us, before it happens the paradox of his saving work for us:
He should have been accepted, respected and adored, instead he was ridiculed, insulted, abused and killed. He is the Prince of Peace, but he was killed like a revolutionary. He is the cornerstone – the foundation – of our lives and our faith, but he was rejected by the very people he came to save.
There is no greater paradox than the cross. It, and Jesus’ willingness to die on it, is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world. Gods are to be worshipped not killed; Gods are to be served, not to serve; Gods are subject others to their will and whims, not subject themselves to suffering and pain for us.
Gods are supposed to be distant and removed, but God, in the incarnated Jesus, draws close to all of us; serves us; sacrifices for us; and out of his great love for us, dies for us.
If Friday is ‘Good Friday’, then the cross is the ‘Great Paradox’ – an instrument of torture, control and death becomes the instrument that brings about freedom, love and life for all of us.
Before the COVID 19 Pandemic today, Holy Wednesday, was to be a day when we came together as a community to walk the Stations of the Cross together. Unfortunately, we can’t do that today. However, because of the gifts of modern technology and God-given creativity, we can each experience those stations ‘together’ today.
So, join me as we consider the love that led Jesus to the great paradox of the cross for us, by virtually walking the Stations of the Cross using the following link: https://stations-of-the-cross.org/beginning/
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for the paradox of the cross. Thank you for the love you give us. Thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus that demonstrates that love and echoes through time with the hope and promise of life, love and peace. Help us to share that hope and promise. Amen.