Mark – God is On Our Side!
We can become so involved, so entrenched, obsessed, if you will, with doing God’s work that it becomes “our” work. We spend hours watching how others do church so we can do church better. This is where pride slips in if we are not careful. We can get so involved, tied to ridiculous schedules, in the business of church, keeping all the balls of program organization in the air, that we miss being with Jesus. Satan loves “over the top” achievers who become busy, tired people. He preys and prowls around these people. I know, I have been one of them.
There is much danger that accompanies our busyness. Our motivations shift from holy serving of others to our own well being, Our goal becomes serving us and giving us glory for it. We begin to frown and whine over each day. We lament to others about how busy we are as we try to impress them with “the list” of all that we need to accomplish for the day. We, as God’s people, can fall to self preservation, self power and control…mainly just self in a heartbeat.
We are repulsed by the Pharisees, who morphed into self preservation, as they ridicule and criticize Jesus at every word and action. But we need to look inside ourselves, too. We need to BE with our Lord, asking for help to stay focused on Him with pure hearts. We need to evaluate our motivations daily when serving the Servant King. We must never forget Who we serve and why we serve. We need to BE STILL and KNOW GOD. Avoid, at all costs, the trap of self.
Be still and know God
Be still and know
Mark 12, NLT
Parable of the Evil Farmers
Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 2 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3 But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 4 The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. 5 The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, 6 until there was only one left—his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 8 So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard.
9 “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. 10 Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
11 This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.’
12 The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.
GOING DEEPER STILL…
Yesterday we talked about how the religious leaders questioned the authority of Jesus. Before they (religious leaders) had opportunity to escape, He told them a parable that revealed where their sins were leading them. They had already permitted John the Baptist to be killed, but soon they would ask for the crucifixion of God’s Son!
The vineyard was a familiar image of Israel (Ps. 80:8–16; Isa. 5:1–7). According to Leviticus 19:23–25, a farmer would not use the fruit until the fifth year, though we are not sure the Jews were obeying this regulation at that time. In order to retain his legal rights to the property, the owner had to receive produce from the tenants, even if it was only some of the vegetables that grew between the rows of trees or vines. This explains why the tenants refused to give him anything: they wanted to claim the vineyard for themselves. It also explains why the owner continued to send agents to them; it was purely a question of authority and ownership.
If Mark 12:2–5 covers the three years when the fruit was not used, then it was in the fourth year that the beloved Son was sent. This is the year when the fruit was devoted to the Lord (Lev. 19:24), and it makes the sending of the Son even more meaningful. If the tenants could do away with the heir, they would have a clear claim to the property, so they cast him out (see Heb. 13:12–13) and killed him. They wanted to preserve their own position and were willing even to kill to accomplish their evil purpose (John 11:47–53).
Jesus then asked, “What shall, therefore, the lord of the vineyard do?” The leaders answered the question first and thereby condemned themselves (Matt. 21:41), and then Jesus repeated their answer as a solemn verdict from the Judge. But before they could appeal the case, He quoted what they knew was a messianic prophecy, Psalm 118:22–23. We met this same psalm at His triumphal entry (Mark 11:9–10). “The Stone” was a well-known symbol for the Messiah (Ex. 17:6; Dan. 2:34; Zech. 4:7; Rom. 9:32–33; 1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Peter 2:6–8). The Servant-Judge announced a double verdict: they had not only rejected the Son, but they had also refused the Stone! There could be only one consequence—judgment (Matt. 22:1–14).
Jesus, Son of God, told perfect stories that began with what they knew and took their minds farther to what they needed to understand. He still does that with us, today. His Holy Spirit teaches, guides, corrects, challenges and helps us to stay focused on Him. If we look away, then we are in danger.
Let’s look prayerfully at why we do what we do . Go to God. Be with God. Ask God to help prioritize our lives, to be holy because He is holy, fitting us with HIS yoke, obeying HIS call to serve with grateful hearts. May all be done for HIS glory.
Lay down the human urge to compare our schedule with someone else’s schedule of activity. Lay down comparing our holiness to someone else’s holiness. That is not pleasing to God.
Lose self. Gain LIFE…abundant and free to walk in the unforced rhythms of His grace. Avoid Pharisee thinking on all levels. Life can be profoundly simple and unimaginably good if we learn to trust God, die to self, and be raised to the life of Jesus Christ in us.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
We repent of thinking our busyness is a form of your holiness. It is not. You Are God and we are not. You are Creator of the created. Build our lives as Your Temple upon Jesus Christ as our internal cornerstone. Thank you for being with me this morning. I love our daily manna talks over Cheerios and a mug of coffee…no matter how much you challenge me!
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.