Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Fruit of Temptation
And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the wine press and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. Mark 12:1-12:12
We live in the Garden State, aptly named in this southern part of the state. People who have only seen New Jersey along the Turnpike might wonder, but here, crops are king. When I was a kid there were farms all over the place, growing corn, beans and many other crops along with grazing livestock and dairy cows. Much of the land has been sold off when the market was good and vacation homes were erected. Other family farms have become vineyards. It very popular these days to transform farm land into vineyards and the tourists who come seem to love taking tours and buying wine. I still cannot wrap my mind around, the soil that once pushed up lima beans is the required same soil for grapes. But what do I know? I know that people will do anything for a buck and will follow fashion for money. Folks will do almost anything to make money from others.
Jesus is being challenged by the religious leadership who doubt his relationship with God. It is all too familiar a behavior - folks who are in charge of a religious community often want to control who can be a part, despite the fact that God has welcomed all. Jesus, as son of the Living God was challenging all their assumptions and control. They wanted the fruit that God had given them and didn't want to share it.
Today, I want to live with the humility of a day laborer and a field hand. I have no more right to the fruit of God's love than anyone else, and am encouraged at all times to share God's abundance with others. May my words and actions this day, make room for others, feed the hungry and recognize that God is sovereign and author of all goodness in my life. May this be a day of compassion and sharing, trusting that the Son walks among us as we share God's love.