Mark: Day 15

The Chief Cornerstone

by

Today's Text: Mark 12:1-44, Isaiah 5:1-5, 1 Peter 2:4-8

Text: Mark 12:1-44, Isaiah 5:1-5, 1 Peter 2:4-8

Many of us have heard the parable of the tenants found in Mark chapter 12. The owner of a vineyard leases it to careless tenants who eventually kill his son in order to keep the spoils for themselves. It’s about God’s chosen people, the Israelites, the ones who thought the work of salvation would take gusto and bravado, laws and legalities.

But they forgot who owned the vineyard, the grapes, and the wine, and that He’d only allotted it all to them for a time. Then one day He took it back and gave it to the entire world: to the Gentiles, Samaritans, Romans—the ends of the earth—and now to you and me.

Sometimes I find myself still tending to the vineyards and missing out on the feast He’s preparing (Isaiah 25:6). I swat at the people He sends my way, kill the inklings of hope in His name, and fight off those coming my way only to serve.

I try to sacrifice Christ again and again with my sore attempts at gaining my own righteousness. I try to produce prize fruit on the merit of my own labors. Because when I laid my crowns at the feet of Jesus, I certainly expected to pick them back up somewhere along the way.

Paul warns Christians that, to be in relationship with Jesus, we’d actually have to fellowship in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death (Philippians 3:10). I must not have understood this because I most definitely did not expect to be so trampled down (Isaiah 5:1-5).

I am the irresponsible tenant and the wild, overgrown grapes. I have mistreated my Father’s things and I have grown wild in going my own way. I have turned away from His feast, certain I can prepare and keep a better one. I have not submitted to His pruning, certain I can handle the shears on my own. But the ruined vineyard and the irresponsible tenants are no match for the Vinedresser.  

He clears the field again, gathers those stones again, and sets in its corner a Stone greater than all the other stones (Mark 12:10). He resurrects it again—stone by stone by living stone—building it all together into a temple for the Holy Spirit, leveling it on the ground of His Son, solid and firm (1 Peter 2:4-8). And the vineyards within bear fruit in abundance—the work of the Holy Spirit, the Vinedresser, and the Son in unison with one another.

This is the work of fruitful farming in the field of faith: to know He will send friend after friend to help guide us back to the right path. He will trample to death that which doesn’t bear fruit and He will even prune what’s good to make it healthier—and sometimes we won’t know the difference. This is the work of faith, to believe and to tend, to submit and to bear fruit. But it’s all done under the watchful, caring eye of the Vinedresser, within the safe haven of the living stones, and on the bedrock of the Cornerstone, Christ alone.

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, tweets @lorewilbert, and posts photos @loreferguson. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • Esther Rogers

    I love that when I wake up here in New Zealand, there is a devotional here, ready to start my day Christ-centred, By the time I read this devotion, you SRT sisters have already commented and gone to bed to sleep. I appreciate your remarks that give me clarity and that show me this community of love and support. God bless sisters and I hope you had a good sleep, ;)

    • Kim

      I am in Australia and also think the same. I love the insight I get from the comments too. Thank you SRT community! It’s better doing life together. X

    • She Reads Truth

      Love this, Esther! Blessings to you today!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Today I decided to spend a lengthy time dissecting the scripture we had today (I haven’t filled myself up in a quiet time for the past few days). As I read this, I feel my soul repenting of all the bad fruits I have let spoil in me! I am living in a very cool fellowship situation. However, recently there has been some bad fruits coming about the different people (including me). My gut instinct is to push it all in and let the anger ferment into long lasting anger. When I read about the farmer sending his son to the fields (who he LOVES), I think of how deeply God loved his Son, to send him to the fields to be with me. I want to push the Beloved Son away, while I am laboring in the barren and spoiled field and trying to handle these tension fruits of my house on my own. But, I am realizing just how toxic that could be. I am delighted today to realize that HE IS MY RESCUE!!! I can lay out mine and the burdens of the girls around me to HIM.

    Like the woman who offers everything she has at the temple, I want to lay it all out to Him today. Doing this means I have nothing of my own and must fully rely on Him for all of my support and sustainability. YAY! HALLELUJAH!

  • Jenny R

    Thank you, Lore, for providing such a thought-provoking feast for us this morning. I do believe I’ll be chewing on these thoughts all day. :-)

    The last paragraph spoke most deeply into my life. “This is the work of fruitful farming in the field of faith . . . He will trample to death that which doesn’t bear fruit and He will even prune what’s good to make it healthier—and sometimes we won’t know the difference.” I’ve been in the midst of extremely challenging circumstances for quite some time, with all the emotional/spiritual ups and downs that go along with them. I continually pray and sob rivers of tears, seeking God’s guidance and His strength to obey. I have no clue what He’s doing in my life. Is He trampling what is not bearing fruit, or is He pruning the good to make it healthier? How can I even begin to know the difference? How can I move forward until I have some inkling of understanding? It’s so hard to muddle along without direction. I know He is always with me and that He has a plan. I know that I must keep my eyes focused on Him rather than on my circumstances. But, sisters, I’m sure you all know how excruciatingly difficult that can be some days. I would appreciate your prayers as I muddle along, waiting for answers to come. Thanks and God bless!

    • Shelbs

      Praying for ya, sister. Finding clarity is so hard when you are not sure what His intentions are. However, the very Spirit that knows God’s thoughts is the Spirit that is inside your soul, guiding you, and comforting you. So, His thoughts are with you. The amazing thing is that you are waiting for answers. That is FAITHFULNESS.

  • This devotion reminds me of the Rite One confession in The Book of Common Prayer:
    …”we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. But Thou O Lord have mercy upon us; spare Thou those who confess their faults, restore Thou those who are penitent…”
    Great reminder today for me to confess my faults and submit to Jesus’ pruning…

  • Jennifer W.

    For the first time since I started going through She Reads Truth Bible studies (they are great! And I believe the contributors are Spirit-filled women of God!), I have to disagree with the author’s interpretation of Mark 12. I think it is too simplistic-God did not take the vineyard from Israel and give it to the Gentiles. He took it from unbelieving Israelites and gave it to a people of God formed from Jews and Gentiles who are now identified in Christ as a royal priesthood (The 1 Peter 2 passage expounds on that people.) The original hearers of the message were Jewish people and Jewish Pharisees. The Pharisees response (Mark 12:12) was to desire to arrest Jesus, because they perceived that He was speaking against them. However, Jesus was too popular with “the people” (Jewish people!) so they did not arrest Him at that time. This message was to strike at the hypocrite and self-righteous among Israel, and not to condemn the Jewish race in favor of Gentile races. (This distinction is very important, because centuries of anti-Semitism have been spurred on by the teaching that Jesus booted out Israel in favor of the nations.)
    I hope I didn’t overstep by sharing my dissenting position! I find the devotionals published here to be of great value!

    • Jenny R

      Thank you for sharing your perspective, Jennifer. I appreciate your caution against generalizing all the Israelites of Jesus’ day as self-righteous. You are absolutely correct in pointing out that it was “the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders” who “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 (Mark 12:12).” Clearly, other Israelites in the crowd were followers of Jesus.

      As I read Lore’s opening description of “God’s chosen people, the Israelites, the ones who thought the work of salvation would take gusto and bravado, laws and legalities,” I automatically assumed she was referring specifically to the Pharisees, as opposed to all Israelites.

  • This reading has me considering my fruit this morning. While I know that I am saved in Christ, that I do not have to “work” for my salvation, it is freely given … the question I am asking myself this morning, is what I am doing to grow the Kingdom? Looking at this passage, it is fairly easy to see ourselves in the tenants. Living for ourselves, condemning Christ with our actions or words. It is also something to see ourselves in the servants … often finding ourselves without favor, friends and enduring hardships because of our faith but how often have we looked at the grape? When we lived in California, I used to pass a beautiful vineyard on the side of a Carmel mountain and I would marvel at it’s beauty, thinking how it must have resembled a vineyard in Tuscany, it was a dreamy spot on a sun soaked hill. But I never considered the grapes. The land, home and even vines could be beautiful but the flavor of the grapes, themselves, might be bitter and never produce a wine worthy of drinking, let alone sale, thus never growing the brand or extending it’s reach beyond that spot. So my question is; Am I producing well? Am I extending the Kingdom? In other words, am I sharing my time, my love of Christ? Am I being kind in my words, my deeds? Am I wasting the days away or am I living joy-filled in a way that shows others the abundant favor of Christ? God so longly grafted me into His vineyard … surely He desires fruit. I don’t want to wither like a wild grape on the side of mountain, I want to be a fruit so rich in flavor through a life so Christ soaked, so God loving that thirsty folks, who do not know Him, may see He is good!

    • Jenny R

      “I don’t want to wither like a wild grape on the side of mountain, I want to be a fruit so rich in flavor through a life so Christ soaked, so God loving that thirsty folks, who do not know Him, may see He is good!” AMEN, sister! This is my prayer for my life as well!

    • Theresa

      Love this. Thanks for sharing.

    • SuzD

      Thank you B, your words went straight to my heart this morning. What am I doing to grow the kingdom?

    • Irina

      Thank you for your insight. You put it so beautifully, truthfully and straight to the point. God bless your heart and your mind so you can continue sharing your thoughts with people…

    • Candy

      Perfectly beautifully said. Your words went right to my heart and made this devotional so much richer. Thank you so much!

    • Jeanne

      I love your reflection, B, and feel your thoughts on my heart as well. Another way to simply put it would be how are you letting your light shine? We’re called to be a light in the darkness, but it’s easy to keep that light hidden away without even realizing it. We have to remember to be the fruit, be the light in every opportunity and interaction with others <3

    • Trisha

      Beautifully said!!! My hearts cry this morning as well after reading the devotion. I don’t want to just bear fruit, I want to be good and useful!!

  • Mercy Me

    Candacejo, your comment this morning has touched me. Thand you for the last two paragraphs.

  • candacejo

    “I try to sacrifice Christ again and again with my sore attempts at gaining my own righteousness. ” I am such a Pharisee, a Sadducee, just cannot let go of the Law because, you know, all those Rules and Regulations! I must follow each one, to a T, and then some. Yet, never getting it right and the next day starting all over again, making sure I have crossed off my Bible reading, my prayer time, and a couple of acts of service. Always hoping it is ENOUGH.

    But the Vinedresser!! Oh, He comes and trims and prunes and reminds me I cannot make myself righteous. He has already paid the price and I must only accept what He has done in faith and live my life so that I magnify Him in all I do.

    A.W. Tozer said “It is not WHAT a man does that determines if his work is Sacred or Secular but it is WHY he does it.”
    May I realize TODAY that it is not about me, that I cannot ever do enough of anything to earn my way into heaven or His kingdom here on earth. I must have relationship with Jesus Christ and that will make all the difference in me.

    • ~ B ~

      I love that A.W. Tozer quote! Love!

    • Tina

      A.W. Tozer said “It is not WHAT a man does that determines if his work is Sacred or Secular but it is WHY he does it.”

      What absolute truth..when we put our lives into the context of who we truly are in Christ…
      Amen.
      Dearest. I feel I’ve gotten withdrawal symptoms. .lol.
      Hope you and the sweetheart, family and little Nora jaunt are doing well. Praying continued blessings as only He can give, for you all…loving you right back. ..xxxx

  • I love the story of the widow in 12:41-44. As you read through chapter 12 you see all the worries of the world going on, all the questions about how to do it right. All the different scenarios where Jesus is trying to explain that it’s not about a way it’s about understanding the heart of God and who He is in your life. He ends the chapter with a simple and easy to understand story about a widow. She had it right, she had a clear understanding of who God was in her life so she gave all she had because she knew and understood. She knew she was cared for, loved and needed nothing but Jesus. Most days I feel I have nothing to give but those are the days I have the most to give because I have to completely rely on Him and not me. Our lives are not about us, they are about Him and how He can turn our nothings into somethings for His glory. “So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
    ‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:43-44‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

  • Churchmouse

    “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The second greatest commandment. Little did I know just a couple years back that I would be the recipient of such love from the SRT community. You have opened your front doors and welcomed me in. You have comforted me these last several days as I’ve walked through the valley of the shadow of my father’s death. Your prayers and your thoughtful words have been a healing balm. I have copied many of them into my journal, sweet treasures of love from you, my neighbors. I am beyond grateful. Scripture says the world will know we are Christians by our love. You have made this a warm and safe place to enter and to know and feel the love of Christ. I pray that many others will knock on this door and enter in. Thank you, dear sisters, for being the best of neighbors!

    • candacejo

      It is all that, Churchmouse! So glad you have felt the strength of the many prayers gone up for you and your family. May God continue to strengthen you all in the days to come. ♥

    • Heidi

      We love you church mouse! I am always so blessed to read the words you write here, and am so glad you can be blessed in return by our words to you. May you continue to feel the Holy Comforter this week and as you continue to grieve in the days and weeks to come.

    • ~ B ~

      I hope you have found peace in this season, Churchmouse. You are greatly loved!

    • Tina

      Church mouse, you are absolutely loved here…Thank you for you and all you are to us…Thank you for being the good neighbour we are called to be…
      Hugs and love dear friend. .xxx

    • Jennifer

      God bless you, churchmouse! I join the other commenters in saying you are indeed greatly loved here. Thank you for all you do to make this a warm and safe place to enter and feel the love of Christ. Continuing to lift your family in prayer.

    • SuzD

      Thank you Churchmouse for such a welcoming front porch.

    • She Reads Truth

      Love this, friend. We’re so grateful for your heart!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • There is nothing more to say to this beautifully written devotion but to sit or stand in praise and adoration of the one who came to save…to redeem, to bring life to, to bring Hope to…
    All Praise and Glory to our Lord Jesus Christ… In thankful adoration…
    Enjoy..sisters, however, whatever, wherever we find ourselves…..’This Cornerstone, this solid Ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm..What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when striving cease..Our Comforter, our All in All, here, right in the love of Christ, We stand. .
    Happy today. Hugs..xx

    https://youtu.be/wNRFumI2ch0

    • RoseBergamot

      Amen!

    • Debbie

      Thank you Tina for this link. It was the very song that my mind went to and the words blessed me again.

    • candacejo

      Love that song and you too, friend. Thanks for sharing. ♥

    • ~ B ~

      Morning T! Hope all is well! Love that song!

    • Jean

      What a wonderful way to start the morning with that awesome song! Thank you.

    • Jenny R

      Good morning, precious sister in Christ! It’s so good to have you with us today! I’ve missed your testimonies and your sweet voice of praise. God even brought you to mind through a dream last night, so extra overnight prayers were lifted on your behalf. :-) Thank you for sharing this song, one of my favorites that I hadn’t heard for a while. I want you to know that God used it to speak deeply into my difficult circumstances this morning. Only in the power of Christ am I able to stand. All praise and glory to Him, now and forevermore!

    • Naomi

      My favorite modern hymn! Amen!!!

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