The Murder Mysteries
Mary and I enjoy watching British mysteries on public television. Whether it’s at the renown Oxford University, the Irish Countryside, or a quiet English hamlet by the Sea, there are always multiple murders, and the detectives always figure out the puzzle—the who done it—and when justice is done, the episode is resolved.
Real life murders aren’t so neat and tidy. Their filled with hate, brutality, and horror. When we go to church on Sunday, few of us are expecting a murder mystery, but according to Jesus that’s the plotline of the Jewish Scriptures. And when the Jerusalem religious leadership challenged the source of his authority during his last visit to the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus told them a story—a story that put them right at the climax of their Holy Scriptures’ real-life murder mystery. And in this case the listeners knew exactly who was responsible.
“Jesus began to speak in penetrating stories to the chief priests, legal experts on the Jewish Law, and the elders, the responsible religious authorities in Jerusalem. ‘A man planted a vineyard. He fenced it in, dug a vat to receive the oil, and built a watchtower. He hired vinedressers to care for it and then left. At the proper time of the harvest he sent a servant to the vinedressers to receive from them the fruit of the vineyard. They seized him, whipped him, and sent him away with nothing.
Again the owner of the vineyard sent another servant, and that one they beat in the head and abused. He sent another, and they murdered him. The owner sent many of his servants, and each time they whipped them, and others they murdered. Now the owner had a beloved son. Last of all, he sent him to them, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son!’ But the hired vinedressers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come! Let’s kill him and the inheritance will be ours!’
They seized him, took his life, and then threw his body outside the vineyard. What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? He will come and destroy the hired vinedressers and will give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this Scripture?
‘The stone that the builders rejected, this one has become the head of the corner. This is from the Lord and it is marvelous in our eyes!’
The religious authorities wanted to seize him, but they feared to do it because of the crowd. They knew that the story was all about them. Then they left him and went away.” Mark 12:1-12
Talk about foreshadowing what’s going to happen! The entire Jewish Scriptures told a murder mystery story where prophets like Isaiah, Hosea, and Jeremiah came to God’s people, his vineyard, and they were abused and rejected. Some lost their lives. The vinedressers represent the spiritual leadership of God’s people, but again and again in the Old Testament the priests and the Levites turn away from true worship and even abuse and murder the prophets sent to correct them.
Jesus now makes it clear that he’s the Son, the rightful heir. He will be crucified but, as Psalm 118:22-23 predicted, he would become the cornerstone to the holy temple God will continue to build on earth. This Temple won’t be stone and mortar, but people—Jews and Gentiles. And then God will give this new group to new leaders. Will these leaders recognize that the vineyard belongs completely to God and the Lord Jesus, or will they begin to think it belongs to them and seek to preserve their power even if it means harming those seeking to turn them back to love and obedience?
LORD, help me see that it was not what we consider to be the wicked people who handed the Lord Jesus over to be crucified, but the religious leaders seeking to preserve their power, their Nation, and their Holy Place. Use this story about the vinedressers to warn me against ever seeking to preserve my own position or power instead of humbly serving you and your precious people.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!