Jesus began to speak to the people by using stories. He said, “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it. He dug a pit for a winepress. He also built a lookout tower. He rented the vineyard out to some farmers. Then he went away on a journey.
“At harvest time he sent a servant to the renters. He told the servant to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they grabbed the servant and beat him up. Then they sent him away with nothing. So the man sent another servant to the renters. They hit this one on the head and treated him badly. The man sent still another servant. The renters killed him. The man sent many others. The renters beat up some of them. They killed the others.
“The man had one person left to send. It was his son, and he loved him. He sent him last of all. He said, ‘They will respect my son.’
“But the renters said to each other, ‘This is the one who will receive all the owner’s property someday. Come, let’s kill him. Then everything will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him. They threw him out of the vineyard.
“What will the owner of the vineyard do then? He will come and kill those renters. He will give the vineyard to others.
“Haven’t you read what Scripture says, ” ‘The stone the builders didn’t accept has become the most important stone of all. The Lord has done it. It is wonderful in our eyes’?” (Psalm 118:22,23)
Then the religious leaders looked for a way to arrest Jesus. They knew he had told the story against them. But they were afraid of the crowd. So they left him and went away. – Mark 12:1-12
So, full disclosure: I’m no Bible scholar. I love reading the Bible and trying to discern what it means, but I realize that I am reading it through my very myopic, 21st-century, western, Michael Murray-ized eyes. Many of Jesus’ teachings and stories sound so simple. Others sound extremely difficult to understand. I think all of them are probably a combination of these two things.
The story Jesus tells in today’s reading makes me feel sad. It is again a story told to the religious leaders. Is it ironic that the people who claimed to know Scripture the best were so blind when it came to who Jesus was?
But then again, they weren’t that blind. They interpreted Jesus’ story correctly… They understood that Jesus was the son of the vineyard owner, and they were the renters who were so willing to shed blood. And, in what I think is the saddest part, that only fueled their rage against Jesus.
And then there’s the million dollar question: If I was in their shoes, what would I have done with this man called Jesus?