I’ve been spending some time in Mark 12 the last few days, reading over subjects as broad as marriage in heaven, what the greatest commandment is and what it means to give everything you have…but it’s the first several verses in this chapter that really struck me: the Parable of the Tenants. It really is a heartbreaking allegory of our desperate need to control what God has graciously given to us for a season, especially when we approach the part about the owner of the land sending his very last “land manager” to persuade the people that they needed to do their parts as tenants:
He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, “They will respect my son.”
And wasn’t he worthy of respect? He knew scripture like the back of his hand, because he WAS the WORD. There was no fault in him. The teachers of the law did everything they could to try and trick him, rope him in to disobeying the Law.
But, Jesus was perfect. He was the spotless, sinless Son of God.
Here is the soul-wrenching part in all of this: God is Sovereign. He knew the way his son would be treated, how he would be misunderstood, betrayed and sold, laughed at, criticized, questioned, beaten and yet this lamb did not open his mouth. Neither did the Father. Can you imagine seeing your son or daughter in the most excruciating physical pain and being powerless to do anything to fix it? There were no doctors, EMTs, shots, IV drips at the foot of the cross. There was nakedness and shame and weeping.
The Father had to turn his face away.
He had no choice.
He could not look upon our sin.
And there his son hung and cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But the Father could not answer, he could not because this was the sacrifice that our sin required. The Word chosen since the creation of the world, the one whom the Father knew from the moment that Eve chose the lie over the truth would have to come and die.
But we know the end to this tragic story: there is no respect, no deference, the people are satisfied for a time to have their needs of healing, the forgiveness of sins, etc. met, but their thinking quickly turns to murder
So, we know that this “man” that is referred to in verse 1 is God. He had the land, he put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. He set it up.
It was good, it was inhabitable, but it didn’t belong to the people he leased it to.
We are borrowers, we are tenants. We don’t belonghere but God wants us here. He wants us to work in the winepress, to guard our land to be good stewards and to give back a little of what we’ve earned. But we’ve fallen short and we’ve fallen apart. We have let our greed overtake us and have insisted that the land is ours, that if we “do away” with the son, then out of sight, out of mind and that means that the owner of the land no longer exists and that means that we can make our own rules. But that’s not how it ends, because, as it states in verse 9,
What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this scripture:
‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
And of course the religious leaders were offended because they knew that Jesus was referring to them. BUT they had a choice, didn’t they? To surrender it to Christ, to give it all up for the Creator and see that creation given back to them, not necessarily in material means but through the fruits of the spirit, one of which includes peace–and who doesn’t want more peace in their lives? But that wasn’t how it happened. Those chose the land, this world over obedience to the landowner.
Is there something you’re struggling to release control over today? Do you recognize that it belongs to God anyway but you just can’t seem to loosen your grip?