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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Owner and Tenants

[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 went away on a journey. 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.” (Mark 12:1-3, NIV)

Jesus refuses to give a direct answer to the religious leaders when they asked Him, “By what authority are you doing these things?” (11:28). First, Jesus puts them on the spot by asking them whether John the Baptist was from men or God, and now He sets about to describe through a story who He really is and what they will do to Him.

The story Jesus tells about the owner and the tenants draws on agricultural observations His audience knew. A landowner wants to make some money from non-producing acreage. Jesus notes the four steps taken.

Planting a vineyard is no easy task. It involves removing the rocks from the soil, tilling and planting, driving in the stakes for the startup vines so that the tendrils will have support to wrap around, and regular watering.

Building a wall takes effort. It would be a stone wall, and it was needed to protect the vines from intruding animals or humans who could either steal or trample the grapes.

Digging a pit involved hard work. A hollow had to be dug into the ground, and then a stone inserted as a catch basin. The pit could not be an earthen one, lest the juice from the grapes seep into the ground.

Erecting a watchtower means the owner was concerned about security. The wall was not enough; a watchman needed to be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Having improved his property, the owner rented it to tenants.

Of course, Jesus is telling the story of Israel. God called His people out of Egypt into a land He had promised and prepared for them. He gave them what was needed to cultivate their faith — the law of Moses and the prophets. He let them live on His land, and didn’t even require an upfront deposit.

Over the course of time, the tenants came to feel they owned the land. The servant of the owner comes to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard at harvest time. They act as though the land is theirs and the servant is the intruder. If the tenants felt they could not or would not pay, then they could have simply sent the servant back with the message of default. However, they turn violent against the servant — seizing him and then beating him.

The servant did nothing to deserve the bad treatment. He was acting only on behalf of the owner, as had the prophets of Israel acted on God’s behalf.

If we bring this story forward to today, then those who share the good news of Jesus are the servants. God is the owner, and the world holds the tenants. God is looking for a response from the tenants who are all on leased land and leased time. We own nothing at all. Everything is from God.

In the story, the owner wants something from the tenants. In the gospel, the only thing God wants from us is our love, trust and obedience. Are we giving Him what He wants?

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I open my heart today to return to You my praise and gratitude for the life You have given me.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

Previous Years

2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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