Tagged: stewardship

Matthew 21: 33-46

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on October 8, 2017.

Klyne Snodgrass has written that this is “one of the most significant, most discussed and most complicated of all the parables.” Within its mysteries, this parable provides an opportunity to consider issues of faithfulness, stewardship, sin, judgment and God’s unrelenting grace. Familiarity with its Hebrew Bible and Jewish context will help us as we rise to meet the challenge of sharing it with our congregations. May those who have ears to hear receive every nudge this story has to offer them this week.

Matthew certainly draws a connection between this parable and the song of the vineyard in Isaiah 5. Exploration of this connection enriches our understanding of the symbolism in the parable and helps us see what Jesus isn’t saying. Historically this story has been used to emphasize supersessionism as an illustration of God’s judgment upon Israel which resulted in Israel’s role in God’s Kingdom being transferred to the Church. One could interpret the parable this way. God sent them prophets right up to John the Baptist. They persecuted and rejected every single one. Now God, the owner of the vineyard, has sent God’s own Son whom they will also despise and reject. What do you think God will do to them?

This interpretation has been used over the years to justify anti-Semitism, with one obvious example coming from Josephus. He described the Romans using war machines to lob large stones into Jerusalem during the siege of the city: watchmen were accordingly posted by them on the towers, who gave warning whenever the engine was fired and the stone in transit, by shouting in their native tongue, “the son is coming,” Before and beyond this kind of inappropriate application, this is a reading neither Isaiah’s imagery nor the larger context in Matthew supports.

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Mark 10:17-31

This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on October 11, 2015.

Henry Holiday
Henry Holiday

We have before us a familiar story from all three synoptic gospels. Indeed, it is so familiar we have harmonized the story and titled it the “Rich Young Ruler.” Beware, sometimes familiarity causes us to assume aspects of the story that are not present in the text before us. Only Matthew calls this man “young” and only Luke calls the man a “ruler.” All three Gospels reference the man’s wealth—although Mark does not reveal the man’s economic status until he walks away.

After Jesus proclaimed that we must receive the kingdom like children (Mark 10:15), his journey to Jerusalem continues. Along the way, a man runs to meet Jesus. This is an image worth bringing into the congregation’s visual imagination. One wonders if the man was in the market place when some mothers began chatting about how the famous teacher embraced their children. We do not know how the man learns that Jesus is in the area, but he must hear of Jesus’ proximity when it is almost too late. The man’s only chance to ask Jesus his burning question is to take off running—which means he hiked up his tunic, showed a little leg, maybe kicked off his sandals, and ran through his village. Running was an undignified act, even more shocking once we learn this man had wealth. Rich men did not go running through their towns. This man wanted to see Jesus and did not care what others thought of him in the process. I like this guy before he even gets to Jesus.

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