January 16, 2017 • Life for Leaders
He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, “They will respect my son.”
Jesus told the so-called Parable of the Wicked Tenants to indict the Jewish people for their persistent rejection of God’s redemptive agents. They had rejected the prophets and soon would do the same with God’s own Son. Thus, it’s not surprising to see that the Jewish religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus after he told this story (Mark 12:12). He was undermining their authority and besmirching their honor.
As I read this parable, I’m struck by the persistence of the vineyard owner. Time and again he sent one of his servants to collect what the tenants owed him. Yet when he ran out of servants and had only his son left, the owner decided to send his son, thinking, “They will respect my son” (12:6).
At this point, part of me wants to say, “Oh yeah? You think so?” Given the behavior of the tenants, and given the fact that the death of the owner’s son just might allow the tenants to gain ownership of the property, their mistreatment of the son was surely predictable. Shouldn’t the father have foreseen what was about to happen with his beloved son? Was the father a fool?
More to the point, was our Heavenly Father a fool to send his beloved Son to save the Jewish people and, even more, the whole world?
If the Father thought that the Jewish people, and along with them, the Gentiles, would respond favorably to Jesus and his ministry of the kingdom, then he was a fool. But if the Father knew how his Son would be treated, and if the Father knew that the death of his Son was necessary for the salvation of the world and the establishment of his kingdom, then what looks like folly is, indeed, a demonstration of God’s matchless love, grace, and wisdom. Indeed, as Scripture makes clear elsewhere, God loves us so much that he sent his own Son to die, so that we might have life in all of its fullness.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Who are God’s messengers in your life? How do you respond to them?
How are you responding to the Son of God?
How might you welcome Jesus into your life more consistently and faithfully?
Gracious God, how I marvel at your love and grace. You knew full well what would happen to your Son, but chose to send him, nevertheless. So great was your love for the world. So great is your love for me!
Even though I have received your Son, dear Father, it is still tempting for me to reject him, not in the big picture, but in countless choices I make each day. Forgive me for my selfishness and sin. Help me, by your Spirit, to welcome your Son as my Lord and Savior each and every day, in each and every moment. May I live for him in every facet of my life.
All praise be to you, Gracious God, for your amazing, surprising love! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: The Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.