Daily Readings & Thought for August 17th. “…. AND TREATED HIM SHAMEFULLY”
As we read Jesus’ parable about the tenants in the vineyard today (Mark 17 v.1-9) and the treatment they meted out to any servants that came to them on behalf of the owner seeking his share of the fruit, our thoughts went quite naturally to what we had just read in Jeremiah who brought from God messages that did not please the leading men of his day. All the counsellors of the king saw his words as undermining them, they did not accept his version as to the attitude of God towards them despite the fact that his warnings had so far proved true.
They “treated him shamefully” putting him in the waterless cistern so that he sank in the mud at the bottom. (ch. 38 v.4-6). It is significant that it is a Gentile, an Ethiopian, that alerts the King to his plight and rescues him (v.7-13); this is parallel to some of the experiences of the apostle Paul..
Returning to the parable of Jesus we can see its application not only to how the tenants killed Jesus the son of the owner, but to the treatment through the centuries of those who are faithful to the truths God has left on record in the scriptures. How many cling to their own distorted philosophies and, as Paul complained, “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” [Rom. 1 v.25]
Our chapter today tells us how Jesus tackled the Sadducees over this. They deny there is to be a resurrection. Jesus rebukes them saying you “are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” [v.24] He says that those “who rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” [v.25] How vital that we “know … the Scriptures.”
On another occasion Jesus said “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out” [Luke 13 v.28] That it is a literal kingdom on earth is made plain in the next verse, “and people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.”
Together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be such as Jeremiah and, most likely, “the scribe” who “answered wisely” – as we read in today’s chapter – so that Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” [v.34] We must each ask ourselves, ‘How far am I from the Kingdom of God?’