Passion Week XIII

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.  And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins.  And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”  (Luke 21:1-4 NASB)

The Widow’s Mite!  It’s been used in “Stewardship Sermons” for ages.  In Mark, Jesus goes and intentionally sits and waits for her to give.  In Matthew, this account is missing, as it is in John.  Here in Luke, Jesus looks up.  It’s as if, in the midst of all He is saying and doing, He remembers, “Oh right, the widow!”.  He looks up and points her out.

There are many interesting things about this account, not the least of which is the question of what happened to the widow?  But another is whether anyone else noticed.  The chances were high that she was easy to spot for what she was.  She probably looked the part since she had reached that point only after selling everything else.  Would anyone else have spotted the unaccompanied woman in old worn clothes?

But what sort of person, or what drives a person to the point where putting the last two coins in the treasury is good idea?  How does that happen?  When does that happen?  In a sense we might think she’s given up, reached a point where there is no point, so might as well give the rest.

But think about what she’s done.  She’s given the last of what she had to the One she figured was responsible.  All things come from God, good or bad.  Yet, regardless of her circumstances, she gives to the One having landed her in them.  The God of her fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has taken her husband, left her without children to support her, without land, without legal protection, and without finances.  And to Whom does she give her last two coins?  This God of her fathers.

How easy is it for me to give in to my circumstances, blaming and resenting my Father in Heaven?  How cheaply do I sell my joy and contentment?  For what will I trade the blessings of being a child of the King?  She held on through everything, and gave right to the end of everything she had.  I have much and give out of my abundance, and whine like a mule because my job is boring.  Really?

The thing distracting me is me.  What gets my view off my Savior and on my circumstances is my discomfort, my boredom, my frustration with management from whom I feel disconnected and marginalized.  Ah, poor blessed employed whiner, such a pity he’s being ignored by people he doesn’t know.  Funny how I have such a problem getting people to come over to my pity party.  I probably should have had cake and balloons.

So different from a widow with two coppers.  Maybe if I grew up to be like her my life would be more of a blessing to others.  I can’t imagine her mindset, which is really dangerous.  I should be living it, forget imagining it.  I’m going to force my focus on Jesus.  Today I will practice the presence of my Savior.  Booyah!

What’s your view of our Master through the fence?


Passion Week XII

And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45-47 NASB)

I forgot.  Week to week, I forgot the sequential naming thing I was doing.  It’s sad really, no excuse for that.  This is the week where Jesus marches inexorably toward the cross.  How can I forget that context?  Fortunately for me, someone else receives greater condemnation…

These are like the “woes” in Matthew 23, which make up the whole chapter actually.  Matthew spends a lot more ink on these condemnations than does Luke or Mark.  Mark is essentially word-for-word what we have in Luke.  In Matthew, we have a much longer passage with one small parenthetical note on how disciples (or the church) is to view titles within (vs.8-11).  The point is made in all three even so.  There should be no concern that others respect or look up to us.

I once told the church I was leading that I was more a “bell-sheep” than a shepherd.  One “sheep” in particular didn’t like that.  He wanted a shepherd.  Ironically, he didn’t obey or follow.  So, what did his “preference” mean?  On the other hand, what do mine mean?  I’ve already confessed in several of these entries that I care what others think of me.  I’ve stated that this fear keeps me from obedience at times.  It’s not just the guy who didn’t follow or obey me, it’s me too.  I read this statement by Jesus and I’m uncomfortable.

I believe the disciples were too.  They’ve already been caught in a couple of discussions of who is the greatest.  Jesus has repeatedly described the greatest as the servant of all, but they still argue about it.  Me too.  Not audibly so I’m embarrassed by my spiritual immaturity, but me too.  I hide my foible under a facade of respectability, but me too.  But there is a darker side waiting just past the line differentiating pride from humility.  There is a personality quirk I have that truly doesn’t care what others think, because they’re all wrong.

Yep, I’m a fallen person with clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.  In the midst of all this my Master sanctifies me for His purpose and design.  I’m in danger of caring too much about what others think of me, and caring too much for what I think of anything.  The answer is to die to self, solving both problems.  The point of connection in both is me.  Both are a focus on me.  Either way I’m selfish.  So, if I focus on Jesus my King, then I fade, calming the clamoring of both parts of my selfishness.

So, shun the robes of office, the greetings of others, nice seats at church and dinner parties, and long prayers.  And quit bullying the defenseless.  Just relax in the tranquility of my Master’s grace and love.  This is the path Jesus laid out.  I’m to follow it wherever it leads.

What’s your view through the fence today?


Divine Conundrum

Then He said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son?  For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘ Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord,’ and how is He his son?” (Luke 20:41-44 NASB)

Growing up, I looked at this question as the end-all, be-all of theological conundrums.  At this point, I’m wondering what the problem was.  The term “son” isn’t as simple as it is to us.  In our culture the word “son” refers to a male child of a particular person.  By extension we’ll allow the person to be one of a group (Sons of the Revolution).  But in Hebrew and many Semitic languages, the term has a categorical meaning as well.

A man seventy-five years old is said to be a “son of seventy and five years” in Hebrew.  So, when Jesus claims to be the Son of God, it’s not just a reference to His Father, but also a categorical reference to His divinity.  So here’s the problem: is “son of David” a progeny or categorical reference, or both?

The question as Jesus poses it refers to Psalm 110 where David refers to the coming “Messiah” as “Lord”, subordinating himself under the One referred to as his son.  My question is, is Jesus saying Psalm 110 means the Messiah is not a Davidic King?  It seems a lot of work was done to substantiate this quality of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, what with a Bethlehem origin-story, genealogy back to David, and the statement of Joseph’s family.  Is Jesus now saying in effect, “who cares?”  I don’t think so.

I think what Jesus is asking is for a different definition of the Messiah paradigm.  From the line of David shouldn’t include a definition of the kingship.  In other words, being a descendant doesn’t require all the other elements of the categorical reference.  So Jesus is free to be a King like David; yet with the additional elements missing from David’s kingship.  I think Jesus is expanding this categorical reference to include the other references to Prophet and Priest, not just “King”.  In this way, Jesus’ Kingship is greater than David’s.

And this is not to say that Jesus won’t be King or ruler.  He will be King, He will sit on the throne of David, but only in a sense.  He will be a king like David, yet He will also be very different.  Jesus says as much to Pilate when He tells Pilate that if His kingdom were here His people would be fighting here, and they’re not.  His Kingdom is not of this world.  His reign is not of this world, and His kingship does not belong in the category of earthly kings.  His kingship belongs in the category of David only in so far as David ruled the Chosen People as a man after God’s heart.  In this way, so does Jesus, but from the right hand of the Father.

So, the Psalm points to a type of king, one greater than David.  The kingdom will be greater than the Jews. The people will be more than one ethnic group.  The King will reign forever. And He will do so from a “Jerusalem”, but a new one.

I suppose what this means for me is that Jesus is like lots of things found in Scripture.  But none of them can fully describe Him.  He is a king like David.  He is a prophet like Moses.  He is a priest like Melchizedek.  I believe that, in Biblical Theology terms, this is “typology”.  I believe that Jesus merely limits how thoroughly we apply the type.  He is like those things, but He is not those things.  Jesus will always surpass our types, imagination, and dreams.  He’s really cool that way.

What’s your view through the fence this morning?

What Resurrection Means

“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB.  Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.” (Luke 20:37-38 NASB)

I thought I knew, think I know, but now I’m not so sure.  This is one of those passages where I’m sort of left wondering what it really meant.  Jesus is questioned about the final resurrection of the dead, right?  Yet I see in His answer more something of “life after death” than a living body again.  In other words, I was looking for something that would indicate that people would have and relate to each other through some sort of body.  That’s not really what Jesus describes.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are who Moses ties to God, He is their God.  I think what Moses assumed was that this God was the one who they worshiped…in the past, back when they lived.  This is the same God who they had related to and received promises from.  But what Jesus is pointing out is that any sort of statement like this also implies an existing relationship.  In Hebrew of Exodus 3:6, the verb is left out, so it’s not “past” or completed action necessarily.  And in the Septuagint, the verb is present active, meaning it’s a current state of affairs.  God is the God of these three.

So what am I getting at?  That Jesus’ statement about life-after-death to the Sadducees is that there is a relationship with God after one’s relationships here are cut off or lost.  Death here does not mean death to God.  That’s kind of huge if you let it be.  We sort of assume it (unless you hold to a “soul-sleep” theological view).  But Jesus points out that it simply is the state of affairs once we die.  Luke adds to Matthew’s and Mark’s account the statement that all live to Him.  Even so, what does this have to do with “the resurrection”?

Jesus states that the answer to the question, “are the dead raised” is this statement from Exodus 3:6 where God identifies Himself as the God of these Patriarchs.  God being the God of the living not the dead does not seem to me to be an obvious proof of a final resurrection.  Instead what Jesus has done is effectively countered the view that the closest anyone comes to life after death is Levirate Marriage.  But having countered that view, He also implies that the relationships lost here because someone dies will be regained again in heaven (or existence after this life) assuming both are worthy of resurrection.

So now the question is whether resurrection is what Jesus says happens after death when the relationship with God continues?  Is this what happens when an earthly relationship is regained after both die?  Or is this description of resurrection merely describing a precursor of the final resurrection to come by stating the waiting condition between death and that final event?  If you have an answer to that one, you have to share it, because I have no idea.  Honestly, this baffles me.  All I can solidly deduce from this passage is that Jesus claims there is life after death.  How life after death is proof of a resurrection is something I’m not solid on.  But I’m sure there are plenty of opinions out there.

By the way, life with God after death is only for the worthy?  And that existence (see verses 34 through 36) seems to be what Jesus is referring to as a state of “resurrection”.  In other words, life after death is resurrection.  Some final event doesn’t seem to be in Jesus’ view here.  Which is odd because I was assuming that some final event was what the Sadducees were arguing against.  I thought the Pharisees argued for some final event.  But it could be that they were actually arguing for some sort of cognitive existence after death, and calling that resurrection.  We all confused together yet?

Any who, the point for me is that my relationship with God isn’t endangered by anything people can do to me.  I have nothing to fear because what is truly important, my relationship with my Master, is not in any sort of danger what so ever.  I’m truly saved in the most visceral and important sense of that word.  I can’t be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).  This is true as long as I am worthy of the resurrection from the dead.  Fortunately Jesus defines my worth based on His relationship with the Father, not mine.  What a relief.

What’s your view through your knothole this morning?

Resurrection Eternal

Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), and they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN’S BROTHER DIES, having a wife, AND HE IS CHILDLESS, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER.  Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; and the second and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children.  Finally the woman died also.  In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” (Luke 20:27-33 NASB)

One of the peculiar aspects to the Hebrew Scriptures is the progression of their understanding of “eternal life”.  It is my suspicion that much of religious understanding was simply experiential.  People died…and remained dead.  Therefore people don’t rise from the dead.  Except people did.  So there is some sort of resurrection, but it only happens on special occasions or to special people.

The thing is that there seems to be some sort of belief in existence after death from a very early human history.  It became extremely developed in Egypt, but even so, the earliest human habitation (Jericho) shows evidence of some sort of belief in some of the earliest layers.  There’s not a lot of “evidence” for such existence, so how does “experiential religion” account for such belief?  And believing in “life-after-death” isn’t the same thing as believing in “resurrection”.    So how did some make this connection?

The prophets God sent to Israel seemed to have no problem believing in life, life with others, after death.  Isaiah wrote of it, Ezekiel wrote of it, but Elijah and Elisha actually bring people to life.  Think about that.  Elijah and Elisha didn’t go, “It’s not possible”, they just did it, believing that God makes it happen.  How did they know if it had never happened before?  I suspect that it had done it before but it didn’t make it into the annuls of Scripture.  It wasn’t germane to the story of God’s work with His people, so it was left out; in much the same way details of King Omri were left out (1 Kings 16:16-30).

I think Levirate Marriage is one of those progressions toward believing in resurrection from “life-after-death”.  It’s not spelled out that it came from that, but I think the importance it had indicates it does.  So here’s how I get there:

Eternal life can be understood in terms of living in the memory of your offspring.  You live in their minds and therefore live eternally.  If life is defined relationally, then this makes a degree of sense (see earlier entries on this topic).  So, if a man dies childless, unless the rules of Levirate Marriage are carried out, his eternal life is over.  When someone refuses to carryout the process, they are, in effect, taking his eternal life from their brother or relative.  It’s serious seen from this point of view.

So while the Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection, they did believe in eternal life; just not some sort of “spiritual existence”.  They stopped at the Levirate Marriage rule with their understanding of “eternal life”.  This would make a certain amount of sense for “priests” for whom lineage was everything.  Their understanding would be simply that people die and experience nothing, but live on through their offspring.  Resurrection would imply the possibility of experience after a physical death.  And if death is relational, then death becomes true only from one perspective, the perspective of those still on earth.

Here’s my point, God has revealed to us that there is life, existence and relational experience, after our brains stop waving.  So, why do we focus so much on this one?  Why, if we know that there’s more to follow, do we let this life distract us from that one?  I think it’s because we know so little of the one to come.  We fear what we don’t know, and know more of the loss of this life than the gain in the one to follow.  And if you think about it, God has set it up that way, and perpetuates the lack of knowledge of what’s to come.  We can surmise about His motives in that, but we’re still left with a blind-spot about what’s to come.  What we do know is that it’s life with Him.  I believe He wants that to be enough.

So, is it enough for me?  Is it enough to know that I have eternity with Him facing me?  Will that define my actions and decisions today?  Will that modify my attitude at work, with my co-workers, with my customers, with my circumstances?  Or will it affect how I deal with my wife and daughter?  Will my belief that this is nothing compared to what I have coming change how I deal with my day and those I encounter in it?  Will it change how I face my future, the future of my church, my community, and my plans?  If it does, how will it change or affect these things?  How is my faith in my Master actualized in my behavior and attitudes?  How is eternity with Him driving my point of view, my paradigm, and my life direction?

To put it another way, why do such petty stupid things get me upset if this is nothing to compared to what’s to come?  If I believe that why do stupid things bother me?  Why do I fear?  Why do I get angry?  Why do I have any other emotion than joy all the time, because I have an eternity already.  What more is there that can compare with that?  Why am I tossed off kilter by the small things when I have such an enormous thing already secured?

The truth is that I believe, but clearly need help with my unbelief.  The faith I profess hasn’t yet become so thoroughly pervasive in my life that I know nothing else.  Not yet.

What’s your view through the fence this morning?

Giving Back What Is Owed

So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor.  They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.  Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”  But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.”  And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent. (Luke 20:20-26 NASB)

How would you have liked to have been the “spies” sent to pretend to be righteous by the religious leaders, trying to trap the teacher who embarrassed them?  It’s sort of like the SEALS sending out the regular army after an enemy who defeated them.  Good idea…not so much.  They start out with puffing Jesus up, trying to put Him in a bind so that He couldn’t appear to be preferential to any; “…You teach correctly, and You are not partial…”, that no matter what He teaches the truth of God.  As if He’s really impressed by hearing that.  But it does set up the question well.

The question is about paying taxes.  The question is asked in the Temple courts where offerings are collected and sacrifices are offered.  In a very real sense, the people are “double-taxed” and it’s a big deal to them.  These people make up the audience.  But there are a few problems with the question.  First off, the coin used for Temple transactions is a “drachma” not a “denarius” (see Matthew 17).  This isn’t a big deal, they can be exchanged easily enough right there in the Temple courts (at least until Jesus drove out the money changers), or Jesus can find them in the mouths of fish when needed.  Yet one coin is not used for the other purpose.

The question being asked by one in possession of a denarius is somewhat ironic.  Essentially they are asking whether to give to the occupying government the money they require from that which is used to conduct business.  The drachma isn’t used to conduct business much. Since the temple exchange rate never works in the people’s favor, it’s a losing proposition for merchants to take them in trade.  And if the merchant isn’t a Jew, they’ll have trouble exchanging them at all.  Best for all concerned to use Roman coin.  And so our questioner has a denarius in the Temple courts, something he clearly will not be giving to God.

But Jesus’ answer is that we are to “render” or “give what is owed” to both Caesar and to God.  There is a sense of obligation in the word, whether of debt, reward, or retribution.  The person to whom whatever is given has a right to it.  In other words Jesus is saying that Caesar has a right to receive taxes.  But He also says that God has a right to receive from us.  In fact, the right to receive is similar enough in both cases Jesus mentions them together.  The challenge is whether or not to pay one or the other, and Jesus is insisting on paying both. There is something we owe back to God, something which He has a right to receive.

Jesus doesn’t mention what we owe back to God. It’s either obvious or assumed by some sort of context we’ve lost. I think it’s obvious.  There are plenty of “giving” or “stewardship” teachings available, so I don’t think I need to delve into it here.  But I will say that for those to whom it seems like God is “taxing” us, they’re not far off.  Jesus clearly says that God has a right to what He asks us to return to Him.  To withhold from God is often taken less serious than withholding from the government.  But that’s just “money”.

The fat of rams, the first born, these things are not what God requires, says Micah.  But rather He requires me to do justice, to love kindness (chesed), and to walk humbly with my Him.  I think most of us would rather just pay Him off, honestly. This other requirement is a lot more invasive, and requires more of me than money.  This Creator, Savior, and King wants my time, my attention, and my intent.  What’s really left for me at that point?  Nothing.  He wants all of me.  And I am to “render to God the things of God”.  I’d much rather hold back and look for the deductions, credits, and adjustments to income.  Instead my Master asks me to forego the balance sheet, and live entirely off the income statement; to own nothing and be entirely His.  What do I do with that, when I’m one of those who would rather be taxed?

What’s your view through the fence this morning?

Passion Week VII

On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me:  Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”  They reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”  So they answered that they did not know where it came from.  And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Luke 20:1-8 NASB)

Did you every hate it when your parents would tell you to obey “because I said so”?  Have you ever heard the term, “it is what it is” (probably original with Yogi Berra)?  Well, this word “authority” used here in Luke is sort of like that.  In Greek usage, the word has both a legal and a simple “unhindered” usage.  In other words, it refers to actions which are not prevented for some reason, but also to the right or legally granted right to act.

But the elders questions are not redundant because they examine two options.  They first ask, “…in what sort of authority…”, and then “…who gave you this authority?”(emphasis mine)  The connecting conjunction is “or”, meaning that both were not assumed to be true.  Either Jesus had this authority derived from some quality, or the authority was derived from another Person.  They didn’t consider it being both.  It was ironic that, in Jesus’ case, it was actually both.  He explains this ironic situation in His parable that follows.

Jesus explicitly refuses to answer.  He bargains with them asking them to reveal what they thought of John’s Baptism.  They feared the crowd stoning them (seriously?), so didn’t answer.  Therefore Jesus refused to answer.  But had He answered, what would He have said?  How could He explain that He had the authority by qualitative nature of being the Son of God, and it was therefore also derived from God the Father?  How do you explain that to people looking at a man in rumpled robes, dusty sandals, scraggly beard, and bad breath?  He didn’t appear in such royal powerful qualities one would expect of Deity.

The truth we often miss is that the people saw a person, much like them.  He was at least so much like them that He was too far removed from God to be any more like God than they were.  How could they have been expected to see beyond the human before them to the divine beneath?  We wouldn’t.  So Jesus’ refusal to explicitly answer the question isn’t strange at all.  In a sense, He also feared the crowd’s response.  It wasn’t time, not yet.  But soon, the crowd would be seeking His death, and it would be granted.  Again, He explains that in the parable that follows as well.

So, what is my lesson?  It has to do with authority.  I believe that, as children of the Creator of the universe, we have authority.  And I believe that, like Jesus, our authority is both qualitative and given.  Our authority is derived from our status as children and given to us by our Father.  I know I behave as if I have nothing, I’m poor, I’m wretched, I’m worthless, etc.  But if I truly believe that my Master has redeemed me, then how can I believe those things about myself?  Certainly my status before my Savior cannot be founded upon a personal quality within myself (self-righteousness).  But He has justified me, and is sanctifying me.  That means I am righteous because of His qualities.

I know that I tend to debase myself, probably in false humility, so that I don’t appear proud.  But authentic assurance in qualities derived from my Master is not pride, it’s faith.  I have authority derived from my Master, I ask and act in His name.  In fact He commands me to act and ask in His name.  I really struggle with this because it’s very easy for me to rely on myself and my abilities or knowledge.  I can appear to “have it all together” to other people.  The problem is that maintaining that facade drives me to crash and burn.  I can’t believe my own press, for my own good.  Instead I have to acknowledge the derived quality of my authority, and act authentically in His purpose and design.

I can dig further down, but that’s deep enough for one entry.  What’s your view through the fence?

Passion Week VI

On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?”  (Luke 20:1-2 NASB)

And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”  And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. (Luke 20:8-9 NASB)

I discovered something in this passage.  Jesus tells the elders He won’t tell them of His authority, then turns around and does exactly that.  He says one thing and does another.  In this account in Matthew (21:22-45), in between these two is a short “parabolic question” about a father with two sons.  Each said one thing and did the other.  The one who did what was asked was obedient.  Then Jesus tells the parable which explains His authority.  I wonder if the “father” could also be the elders?

Jesus is asked to tell why He can cleanse the temple and teach there.  His authority comes from God as the Only Beloved Son, but how does He say that without inciting a riot right there?  On the other hand Jesus wants to declare His authority to the religious leaders, in fact they have a right to know, it’s their responsibility to check such things.  In a sense, the elders are afraid of the same thing Jesus is as they answer about John’s baptism.

It winds up that the elders and religious leaders know that the parable is about them.  Do they also realize they’ve had Jesus’ authority explained as well?  I think so.  And just as John’s baptism was problematic for them so too is Jesus’ claim of authority.  In the parable, the Beloved Son is sent to the vine growers by the Owner.  The leaders caught that they are the vine growers, which makes Jesus the Beloved Son who has authority from God and actually owns the Temple and the people therein.  He asserts His authority over theirs, claiming they are beholding to Him, not the other way around.

As Jesus points out in the parable, the vine growers want to destroy Him.  And so they do.  But He also points out they will destroy Him, outside the walls.  The very indicting parable also predicts their “success”; while predicting that it will spell their destruction.  The vineyard of Israel/Judah/Jerusalem will be given to “others”.

What I learn here is that my roles and responsibilities within my Master’s Kingdom are conditional.  I am expected to be responsible and honoring to my King.  I learn that I must gauge my response to Jesus.  Am I behaving in line with my belief that I am beholding to Him, working what He owns on His behalf?  Where can I honor Him more?  What do I owe Him as my King that I have not given Him yet?  It’s not comfortable for Americans to think this way.  But I believe it’s necessary.  The truth is that my King will accomplish His purposes and His design, with or without me.  I’d like to be included.

What’s your view through the fence?