Scripture Reading — Mark 12:1-12
"He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved." Mark 12:6 —
One of the most painful experiences in pastoral ministry is to walk with parents through the tragedy of losing a child. I have done that several times as a pastor, and each time my own faith and trust in God has been both challenged and deepened.
In our story today, Jesus gave a glimpse of what his own Father would soon experience. It's a powerful, shocking story of depravity. And the religious leaders know Jesus is talking about them, because this story is about a vineyard, a picture often used to describe the nation of Israel. As messenger after messenger in the story is rejected, they know Jesus is talking about prophets whom the Israelites rejected throughout the years of their history. And when Jesus delivers the punch line about the owner's own son getting killed, the leaders also know Jesus is aware of their plans to kill him.
Despite the sadness of this story, it's really a message of God's persistent love. The Father willingly goes through the pain of loss in order to bring life and hope into the world and our lives. Though his Son is rejected, the end result is that "it is marvelous in our eyes."
You and I live because the Father willingly sacrificed his own Son. In a world that has in so many ways not acknowledged who Jesus is, we are called to be bearers of hope and life--no matter what the cost.
Father, thank you for loving the world so much that you gave us your one and only Son, that we might not perish but have everlasting life. In Jesus' name, Amen.