Anchored Daily: Mark 11:27-12:12

posted by Bethel Communications | Mar 22, 2023

Hello Bethel, this is Adam.
My grandparents were both born and raised in different OK towns and moved west to
the Yakima valley around the same time. Their paths eventually crossed on the hop
fields where they both worked during the WWII era. I can remember the first time my
dad pointed out a hop field as we were passing by on our way to the TC from the west
side of WA. My imagination got to work picturing my grandparents out there working
together. But I was also fascinated by the artform of hop-growing. The vines growing up
strings like towers in the sky, standing side-by-side, connected for what seems like
miles. From then on, I paid attention to the agriculture whenever we passed through
the Valley.
In college, I worked at a winery for a couple of years and was fascinated again by the
similar agricultural artform of the vineyard. Humans working with the ground and seed,
tending the vines carefully so they produce healthy grapes, and the tedious and patient
process of turning the fruit into wine. The whole process from start to finish is a thing of
Jesus and the Jews who lived for centuries before him, lived in a similar agricultural
environment that we do. That’s why the image of the vineyard is so prominent in the
prophet Isaiah and in Jesus’ parables and teachings. The vineyard is a picture of who we
are to God.
Back in the 8th century BC, Isaiah sang this song about YHWH and his people: “I will sing
about the one I love, a song about my loved one’s vineyard: The one I love had a
vineyard on a very fertile hill. He broke up the soil, cleared it of stones, and planted it
with the finest vines. He built a tower in the middle of it and even dug out a winepress
there.” (Isaiah 5.1–2). God tends and cares for his people like a wine grower tends to his
vineyard. As he works in his people, they produce fruit that he enjoys and delights in.
And as the biblical picture grows wider, we learn that one day we will enjoy and delight
in the fruit together.
It's true that if you keep reading in Isaiah 5, Israel ends up being wild grapes because of
their rebellion from YHWH. And YHWH tears it down. But later in chapter 27, YHWH
rebuilds the vineyard, waters it every day, and promises that it will blossom and bloom
and fill the whole earth. Isaiah is talking about a future day that Jesus will bring.
That brings us to our reading for today form Mark 11. Jesus is being hounded by the
Jewish leaders about his authority, and he gives them a parable about a vineyard. The
edge of the parable is supposed to cut at the leaders. They were tasked with tending
God’s vineyard and they haven’t. They’ve even gotten presumptuous as well, thinking
it’s their vineyard and not God’s. Even when the son comes for his inheritance, which is
Jesus btw, and he’s telling them where he gets his authority; even when he comes, they
kill him. Jesus is calling out the leaders for what they’ve done and are going to do with
But we can’t forget to see what Jesus is also declaring about his people, his church, you
and me, and everyone who names Jesus as their Lord. We are his vineyard. He is
tending to us, watering us, caring for us, delighting over us. Even bad tenant-farmers
can’t get in the way of what he’s doing with us. And we’re his inheritance, a gift of the
Father to Jesus. A beautiful vineyard that he will enjoy forever. This is the picture Jesus
sees when he looks at you today.
Jesus changes the metaphor at the end of the section to the cornerstone. That’s temple
imagery. It points to the reality that we’re also being build up as God’s temple where he
will dwell with us forever. The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus, but they didn’t know that
they were participating in God’s plan to build a world-wide, eternal temple through
Jesus crucified and raised. And in that dwelling place, we will commune with him
forever, feasting and drinking the fruit of the vine together, delighting over each other.
That’s what Jesus is doing right now in us, and what lies ahead in store for us, even
when it doesn’t feel like it.
So next time you drive by a vineyard, or a hop field, or really any other agricultural spot
(which we all will, because they’re everywhere), let it be a reminder of who you are to
Jesus, and what he’s doing in and through you.
Let’s pray.


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