A journey to the cross is a journey to repentance. It’s a journey to deep personal change. Will you take this journey with me?
In today’s reading, Marcus continues his conversation with his nephew, the young soldier Claudius. Claudius is reporting on the activities and the message of Jesus of Nazareth on Tuesday of Holy Week.
But Claudius wasn’t done.
“You know about this kingdom notion,” he said. “Jesus told another story, and it helped me catch what he was driving at. He talked about a landowner who planted a vineyard and then went away. He rented the land out to farmers, but when he sent servants to collect the rent, the farmers would beat the servants or kill them. Finally, in desperation he sent his own son to collect the rent, thinking the farmers would respect him. But the renters said, ‘Let’s kill him and the land will be ours.’ So they took the son outside the vineyard and killed him.
“Then Jesus asked the people around him what would happen to those renters when the owner came back. They answered that the landowner would kill those miserable renters and give the vineyard to someone else who would pay him on time.
“Jesus said they were right. And then he said, now catch this”—Claudius gestured with an upraised index finger—“‘The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’ Those were his very words.”
“So what did he mean by that?” I asked, quite mystified.
“I wasn’t too sure myself at first. I knew he said this as a rebuke to the high priest and the religious establishment. Everyone there knew he was telling this story against them. But later I asked the man beside me what he thought Jesus meant by this parable. He said the landowner was God, the religious leaders were the renters, and the servants who came to collect the rent were the prophets of the past. We just weren’t sure who the son was. I suggested that Jesus himself might be the son. But he just looked at me like I was a complete idiot, shook his head, and said, ‘God doesn’t have a son.’ I kept my mouth shut after that.”
“Well then,” I surmised, “this prophet, this Jesus, really has set himself up in opposition to the religious authorities. If he’s publicly predicting the end of their rule, he has picked a fight with them.”
I sucked in a long, slow breath. “And, Claudius”—I nodded in his direction—“it’ll be a fight to the finish.”
I continued as my mind caught the implications of my own words. “Jesus may have the people or at least a good number of the common people on his side. But Caiaphas is nobody’s fool. He’s got money and power behind him. The son in that story, if that’s who Jesus is”—I gestured with an upraised open palm—“he might yet be taken out and killed.”
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