#82: Parable of the Vineyard

Mark 12:1–12

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. Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvellous in our eyes’?”
Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

This is the first of Jesus’s big teachings in his festival of teaching in the last week of his life. It is a big parable and it is a destiny story. It is all about who he is, what he is doing and where he is going.

If you follow the young Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy you see him discovering, wrestling with and finally fulfilling a strong sense of destiny. It all begins with his birth and a spiritual awakening brought to him by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

This awakening is a calling but he is free to either reject or follow his destiny. The same story of a destiny accepted and followed is present in Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Superman etc. In all these stories the word destiny is tied to the word destination. The destination of all these heroes is victory in the face of overwhelming odds. For Jesus the destination, the climax of his destiny is the cross.

In Jesus’s parable the vineyard represents Israel, God’s special people. The vineyard is looked after by the priests and leaders of the people. As the vineyard planter and owner God will provide peace and prosperity but would like a little bit of thankfulness, prayer and spiritualy true living in response. God sent the Old Testament prophets to collect from the tenants but they were rejected and sometimes killed. Now he is sending his own beloved son. Once Jesus had told the story there was no turning back. The priests, scribes and leaders got the point, you can almost hear the big penny dropping. Jesus has just moved a few more steps on his destiny road.

As a follower of Jesus I spend a lot of time thinking about what I expect from him. Guidance, help with my struggles, inner peace and comfort are all on what is a long list. I like living in God’s vineyard. I do not spend nearly as much time thinking about what he would like to see growing on my individual vine. I want to enjoy his fruit, I need to give more thought to him enjoying mine.

This then is my destiny road. Firstly to live out good things which I offer to the Father. Secondly to go with Jesus into the vineyard of this world and to try and open peoples’ eyes and spirits to God. To gather in the fruits of his creation.

Lord God,
Thank you that I am living in a vineyard,
Not in a wild place.
Thank you for the soil, the rain, and the sunshine.
Help me to grow rich fruit,
And to give back to you
Something of what you have given to me.
May this be my destiny.