Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 11 November 2015

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. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.   Mark 12, verses 1-9

Prophecy and warning.   Remember the context of these verses.   Jesus is in Jerusalem during the last week of His life; this story is told, perhaps, on Monday or Tuesday of that week. He knows the rulers of the Temple are conspiring against Him, looking for some way to corner and kill Him.   Despite that, He tells this parable to both lay out what would soon happen to Him and to warn those who would do it that God’s wrath wouldn’t be denied.   Years later, the message for us is the same message Jesus gave to them:   “He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

I thought God loved us.   Would He who loves us also want to kill us?   Perhaps the answer is in the question “do you believe?”

Will God kill us for our disbelief in Him?   That’s what Jesus is saying in this parable.   The free gift of eternal life is available to ALL mankind.   All races, both sexes (even Bruce Jenner), all nationalities, all religions:   if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He and only He has the power to forgive your sins, and that His death on the cross paid for those since once and for all, then you are saved.   There’s nothing more to it than that; there’s nothing more for you to do.   God’s grace is a free gift and done for you by Him.

Reject it at your own eternal peril.   That’s what Jesus says in verse 9.   The second death – the death of the spirit – is eternal separation from God, who cannot allow unholiness into His presence.   Rejecting Jesus means rejecting His covering holiness, His once for all sacrifice to the Holy Father.   That leads to death, both eventual physical death and, much worse, the death of the spirit.   It’s what He was warning His accusers about.

As an aspiring vintner (as well as aspiring writer) I like that Jesus uses the analogy of a vineyard to paint His prophetic picture.   But it isn’t for love of wine that He says what He says.   He says it for love of you, me, and even those long ago priests who were looking for an opportunity to kill Him.

Lord, I believe in You, that only You can save me.

Read Mark 12, verses 1-12

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