We are halfway through the week. As we read in the
Gospel today during Morning Prayer, things are
getting tense for Jesus.
On Monday after Palm Sunday, he went to the Temple,
chasing the commercial vendors out of the Temple
On Tuesday, Jesus was teaching again.
Unsurprisingly, the parables proved problematic for
the theologians and professors of his day.
Today, Wednesday, Jesus offers his longest and final
parable in the Gospel of Mark. His teaching is
truth: he tells the story about how God longs for
all of us— for you and for me— to be planted in the
vineyard. Jesus was sent so all would know that they
1Then he began to speak to them in parables. "A
man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a
pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then
he leased it to tenants and went to another country.
2When the season came, he sent a slave to the
tenants to collect from them his share of the
produce of the vineyard. 3But they seized him, and
beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4And again
he sent another slave to them; this one they beat
over the head and insulted. 5Then he sent another
and that one they killed. And so it was with many
others; some they beat, and others they killed. 6He
had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent
him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'
7But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the
heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance
will be ours.' 8So they seized him, killed him, and
threw him out of the vineyard.9What then will the
owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy
the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10Have
you not read this scripture: 'The stone that the
builders rejected has become the cornerstone;11this
was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our
Mark told stories so they could easily be
understood. Deciphering the allegories of this
particularly narrative is relatively simple: God is
the vineyard owner; the tenants are the present
religious leaders; the beloved Son is Jesus; and the
earlier servants are the prophets, including
(probably) John the Baptist. Framing the passion
narrative, this narrative ultimately explains: why
God sent Jesus and the prophets before him: [an
invite us to turn around, to work toward justice and
peace]; what will happen to Jesus [to be falsely
accused and to be put on death row for a crime he
didn’t do]; who will bring this evil about
[pastors—respected clergy who pound pulpits on
Sundays]; and what the failure of this last chance
to repent will mean [to remain hateful will only
prevent the presence of God to be noticed by our
Jesus was hospitable.
Perhaps, too hospitable for some.
The shadow of the cross is growing larger by the
Thursday will come and we’ll say, “Not just my feet,
but my head as well.”
Then, it will be Friday. Do I need to say anymore
so, let’s not rush.
Instead, let’s use this time to attend to the text and listen to the
questions it asks of us.
Let us listen to the text, to hear God’s voice calling us to return
to the way of Love.
Let us tune into this call to inclusion: a call to rid ourselves of
dictating doctrines that determine who is “in” and who is “out.”
Note about the picture: This picture is of the quote in
Rev. Bruce Allison's book Links. If you would like
a digital version of this beloved classic, please email
Let us hear the text not as one about a God who takes pleasure in
drenching tenants with destruction, but rather, gain a glimpse of a
God who wants everyone in the vineyard.
May we, as articulated by the Reverend Bruce Allison, come to know
on this Wednesday of Holy Week, as we stand in the vineyard and
nearing the end of our travels, that “Our deepest joy and our
greatest satisfaction comes from what unites us to all people, the
love of God for us and for everyone. And it is that, too, which
reveals more and more of who we are meant to be.”
Amidst the procession to the gallows of Good Friday, love continues
to pave the way. Soon we’ll receive a new commandment. Soon we will
be asked, “Whose feet are you going to wash?”
Soon, we’ll be sent to love until the end…
[Adam Quine, First Presbyterian Church of Lincoln]