March 31, 2010
He then began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. "He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.' "But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. "What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven't you read this scripture: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away. -Mark 12:1-12
Before we look at Mark, flip back and let’s take a look at the Old Testament. In Isaiah 5:1-7, God tells of His beloved who had a vineyard and what was done for this vineyard.
Everything that was necessary for this to be the best of all vineyards was done for this vineyard. All the rocks were cleared from the soil, the best seeds were planted, and the best of winemaking materials was put inside, and a hedge (a dense row of trees or shrubs, often of thorny, used as a fence to keep others out) was planted around it. The best grapes and choicest wine should flow from this vineyard.
Now jump ahead to Mark 12. Jesus now tells us about the wicked men who cared for this vineyard in place of the owner who was away. Many times he sent hired hands to check on the state of affairs, and repeatedly they went back beaten and empty-handed or were killed. Finally, he decides to send his own son, whom they also killed, figuring the inheritance would be theirs. In Mark, Jesus says that the wicked tenants would be destroyed and replaced with other tenants. Isaiah presents a different option. After finding sour, wild grapes, the man removes the hedge, allowing the vineyard to be trampled and destroyed, leaving it subject to the elements without any caretaking. Essentially, the vineyard is destroyed.
We are the vineyard and the wicked tenants, while God is the owner of the vineyard, His prophets and pastors the messengers, and Jesus Christ His Son. We surely deserve this type of destruction for yielding sin (sour grapes), but the beautiful message of Good Friday is that the destruction we deserve is placed upon Jesus. Instead of our destruction, the Son of God is destroyed for us so that, because of our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, we might once again be the pristine vineyard we once were.
Your soul in griefs unbounded,
Your head with thorns surrounded,
You died to ransom me.
The cross for me enduring,
The crown for me securing,
You healed my wounds and set me free.
Seminarian Ryan Beffrey
 Lutheran Service Book Hymn Upon the Cross Extended stanza five © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Collect for Wednesday of Holy Week Lutheran Book of Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis