Today we read Jesus’ parable about the tenants in the vineyard today (Mark 12:1-9) and the treatment they meted out to the servants sent from the owner seeking his share of the fruit. Our thoughts went Jeremiah who brought messages from God that did not please the leaders of his day. All the king’s counsellors saw his words as undermining; they did not accept his version about the attitude of God towards them despite his previous warnings coming to pass.
They treated Jeremiah shamefully, putting him in the waterless cistern so that he sank in the mud at the bottom (38:4-6). It is significant that a Gentile, an Ethiopian, alerts the King to his plight and rescues him (verses 7-13). This is parallel to some of the experiences of the Apostle Paul.
Returning to the parable, we see its application not only to how Jesus the son of the owner was killed, but to the treatment through the centuries of those who were faithful to God’s truth. How many cling to their own distorted philosophies and, as Paul complained, “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25).
Jesus tackled the Sadducees over this. They deny there is to be a resurrection. Jesus rebukes them saying you “are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Mark 12:24). He says that those “who rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (verse 25). How vital that we “know … the Scriptures”.
On another occasion Jesus said “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out” (Luke 13:28). That it is a literal kingdom on earth is made plain in the next verse, “and people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God”.
Together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be such as Jeremiah and, most likely, “the scribe” who “answered wisely” – as we read in today’s chapter – so that Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God” (verse 34). We must each ask ourselves, ‘How far am I from the Kingdom of God?’