Scripture: Mark 12:1-11
Key verse: (7) “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”
Reflection: When one reads the accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, it seems clear that he believed he had nothing to lose. He didn’t hold back in his indictment of the religious leaders and this parable is a good example. The history in this parable isn’t immediately evident to a casual hearer or reader, but it recounts the history of Israel over the centuries. The nation of Israel is compared to a vineyard that belongs to God. The tenants are the people of Israel who turned away from God even though God had shown them so much steadfast love and care. The slaves, who were sent to collect the rent, were the many prophets who called the people to return to a loving God. The beloved son was Jesus who has been sent to the people inviting them to turn toward God. However, then and now, people resisted.
What is it in us that is so prideful and self-centered that we can’t accept God’s love and follow in God’s ways? Is it the desire to be in control – the need to be in charge? What drives us to go our own way, often at the expense of others?
For me this parable invites surrender. Surrender is not giving up, but giving in to. The tenants in the story do not want to submit to the landlord. They want to go their own way even though the landlord has been generous with them – providing for all of their needs. How often do we resist submitting to God? I’m not talking about being abused against your will or becoming a doormat for someone else to take advantage of you, but rather the stubborn refusal to give your life to God and submit to the love, acceptance, and forgiveness of Jesus. The theologian Jean-Pierre de Caussade once wrote: “Surrender of the heart to God includes every possible way of obedience to God, because it means giving up one’s very being to God’s good pleasure.” (1) Jesus criticized the religious leaders because they refused to see their own disobedience. However, they did see and understand that Jesus was criticizing them and this made them angry. By the end of the week they found a way to arrest him and have him killed – not unlike the tenants in today’s parable.
As we travel through Holy Week, reflect on how you might draw closer to Jesus. What kind of tenant have you been with the life God has given you? How have you abused and rejected God’s love? What kind of follower of Jesus do you want to be?
Prayer: Gracious God, giver of all good gifts, forgive us for going our own way and rejecting you. Help us to place you as a cornerstone in our lives that we might look upon your love with amazement. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].
(1)“Surrender is Everything” from The Joy of Full Surrender, The Community of Jesus, 1997.