Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Matter of Focus

A Matter of Focus
 Monday: Ninth week of the Year    May 30, 2016
Mark 12:1-12. Year II: 2Peter 1:2-7; Psalm 91:1-16.

After the confrontation in the temple, Mark’s Gospel presents one hostile confrontation after another between Jesus and his enemies. We are approaching the end, when Jesus will come into his glory by being crucified.

Jesus now presents another parable. Mark specifies that he is “addressing the chief priests, scribes and elders,” the power structure of Israel, the same ones who “were seeking a way to put him to death” (11:18).

Up to now Mark has reported three parables, all concerned with the sowing and growth of the Kingdom (4:3, 26, 31). This one is about active resistance to the Kingdom, still presented as a living, growing thing: a vineyard.

The parable is about a man who “planted a vineyard, put a fence around it… then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.” He sent one servant after another to them to collect his share of the produce, but they rejected them. “Some they beat; others they killed.” Finally the owner sent his “beloved son,” saying, “They will respect my son.” But they didn’t: they killed him too, thinking “This is the heir… the inheritance will be ours.” So Jesus asks, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

But the real point of Jesus’ teaching is not the defeat of his enemies. It is the victory of God. He turns to the promise of Scripture: “The stone rejected by the builders has become the keystone of the structure.” Jesus is experiencing rejection. He is going to be killed. But the new temple he has spoken of (see Friday above, 11:17, 20) is going to replace the old, and he will be its cornerstone. Instead of looking at his human enemies and what they are doing in the present, he looks at God and how things will be when he has finished his work: “It was the Lord who did it, and we find it marvelous to behold.”

Imagine yourself camped out with Jesus and the Twelve at this time, sleeping next to him. You are worried by the way things are developing. You hear Jesus stirring and you ask him: “Are you awake? What is going to happen?” He answers, “They are going to kill me; probably very soon, during Passover.”

How would you feel? How would you think Jesus was feeling? How could he sleep? How could you?

We know the answer. He gave it when the plot began: “Have faith in God” (11:22). Just trust.

Initiative: Give God’s life: Change your focus. When worried, look up and ahead, not just around.

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