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.
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.