Today’s Scripture: Mark 12:1-12
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.
In this parable Jesus is describing the leaders of the Israelites (the tenant farmers), God (the vineyard owner, and Christ (the owner’s son – whom he loved dearly). It’s quite an indictment on the leaders of the day – and they realized he was talking about them. This story by Jesus only increased their anger toward Jesus and pushed them further along on the road to his murder.
I think there are a lot of different things we can learn from this parable even today. Perhaps the most important lesson is that God will use whomever God can in order to accomplish God’s purpose – even using a stone that others reject as the cornerstone for his plan.
Sometimes I think we assume that just because God has used a certain person or church or ministry in the past that it’s always going to continue. Or, we think that because we are the “right kind” of people that God will of course use us. But this parable reminds us that sometimes what we expect and what God will use are two different things.
This means a couple of things. First, we need to recognize that God will use whoever is open to being used – even if that person does not have the “right” credentials, education, or pedigree. Sometimes what we would reject becomes the cornerstone in God’s plans.
Second, we must dedicate ourselves to be used by God no matter what – even if being used by God looks a lot different than it did a few years ago or even a few months ago. God will use the tools that are available. If the tools are determined to be used in only ways that worked in the past, God will move on to other tools.
God we want to be used by you. But we admit that we sometimes get tunnel vision in what being used by you looks like. Help us to not reject tools that you will use just because they are different than our expectations. And help us to remain open to how you want to use us – even if it feels different from what we are used to.