When the Renters Think They Are the Owners

The 260 Journey
When the Renters Think They Are the Owners

Day 40

Today’s Reading: Mark 12

Today’s reading starts with a parable, a little story with a big meaning. Jesus tells it in nine verses but the actual story covers almost three thousand years. It is God telling His story from the beginning to ending with His Son coming to earth.

As we read this passage together, remember that Mark 11:27 says Jesus is in the Jerusalem temple telling this story to chief priests, scribes, and elders.

[Jesus] began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. (Mark 12:1-9)

Verse 6 is the fast forward to the present of this story—the vineyard owner (the father) had one more to send, his beloved son, believing they would respect him. Yet the story ends with them killing the owner’s son. 

Who do you think Jesus is speaking about?

It is His own bio.

In fact, to make sure there is no misunderstanding, Jesus tells these religious Old Testament experts that this story is connected with the Scriptures they know so well as He quotes from Psalm 118:

Have you not even read this Scripture: “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? (Mark 12:10-11)

Jesus reminds us in the story that this is God’s planet and we are just stewards of it.

I don’t know if you have ever rented a house, a piece of property, an apartment that belonged to you and the renters forgot that it isn’t their property? From the way they treated it and even becoming lax in their rent payments, they assumed the role of owner. 

I am always reminded of the old 1901 hymn, “This Is My Father’s World”:

This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns, let the earth be glad!

We are the renters. God is the owner. This is our Father’s world, we are stewards of it.

It’s always dangerous when the renters act as though they are the owners—and it is especially dangerous when the owner is God. It’s easy for us to forget and act like we’re owners with our money and tithing when we give God our 10 percent. But it all belongs to God. We get to steward the other 90 percent. The same thing is true of our lives, which the apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV): “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

When some women begin to announce that their bodies are their own—“my body, my choice”—regarding abortion practices and laws, nothing could be further from the truth. The renters are acting like owners. Those ladies and legislators are all bought with a price.

In order to say those kinds of words . . . you have to kill the Son.

One fundamental problem is that they did—but He rose again! The renters are still renters. We have to honor the Son.

Years ago, I heard an amazing story about a wealthy man who had one son, whom he loved dearly. He was a lover of art and he taught his son to love fine art. Because he was wealthy, he and his son amassed a valuable private collection of priceless works of art.

When he was old enough, the son joined the marines and was deployed to Vietnam, where he was killed in action. The father’s heart was broken.

Several years later, when the wealthy man died, his estate planned to auction off his works of art, which were estimated to be worth in the millions of dollars. The day of the auction, with art dealers crowding in waiting to bid on the Van Goghs and the Monets, the lawyer announced that before any of the valuable art could be auctioned, the deceased had left specific instructions that the portrait of his son must be auctioned off first.

“Get on with it,” the impatient art dealers complained. “Get that picture out of the way so we can bid on the real art!”

The auctioneer held up the painting. “Who will give me one hundred dollars for the picture of the son?” No one replied. Finally, a friend of the son’s who was also a soldier said, “I’ll give you twenty dollars for it.”

“Twenty once,” the auctioneer said, looking around the room. “Twenty twice. Sold for twenty dollars.”

At that moment, the rich man’s attorney stepped forward again and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, there will no more bidding. My client left secret and specific instructions that whoever bought the painting of his son would receive all the other works of art at no additional charge. . . To quote the words in his last will and testament, he wrote, ‘Whoever chooses my son, gets it all.’ This concludes the auction.”

Whoever chooses God’s Son gets it all.

As Romans 10:11 (TLB) reminds us: “The Scriptures tell us that no one who believes in Christ will ever be disappointed.”

Not church.
Not religion.
Not a denomination.

Only the Son.