WE ARE ONLY THE TENANT
Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, until there was only one left—his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’ ” The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.
Mark 12:1-12 NLT
Mark opens chapter twelve by giving a parable of Jesus addressed to the religious leaders. He uses a common practice of a wealthy landowner who hires tenant farmers to care for his fields while he goes to live in another country. The arrangement would be for the owner to send a servant to collect his portion of the harvest each year. According to Jewish law, the landlord must collect a portion of the harvest to remain the owner of the property. The tenant farmers forget their place as the tenant and begin to act like owners. They reject the owner’s servants and refuse to give the proper payment. Eventually the owner would send his only son thinking the tenants would respect the son. Instead, the tenants thought the best thing to do was to kill the son and claim the land as their own. Jesus then asks the religious leaders what they think the owner will do. According to Matthew’s version of the story the religious leaders tell Jesus the owners would come and kill the tenants and lease the fields to others. Jesus then repeats what they say as the truth. Then Jesus quotes from a Messianic psalm: “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” (Psalm 118:22)
It is interesting to note that Mark lets us know the religious leaders understood that Jesus was talking about them. They represented the tenant farmers who rejected the owner’s servants. Israel had for years rejected the prophets sent by God who called them to bare the fruit of repentance. They had refused to surrender to the authority of God. They had promoted themselves and their personal interest. Now they were about to reject God’s Son and crucify Jesus. We should always remember we are just tenants of the blessings and favor of God. We are not owners. We do not have the right to make decisions based on selfish benefits. We are called to work for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done.
Holy Spirit forgive me for the times I have forgotten my place in the kingdom. Forgive me and help me to put Your kingdom first.
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