What will you do with Jesus? Neutral, you cannot be.
Some day your heart will be asking, What will He do with me?
Anyone know this hymn? Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall may not be sung too frequently in today’s worship settings, but the chorus (above) reflects an essential truth. As Pilate convened the legal proceedings as Roman governor, he asked the crowd “What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called the Christ?” The crowd had opted for the release of Barabbas and in response to this eternity-determining question answered “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Earlier in this same ‘last week’ in the life of Jesus, he had spoken a parable, one of his infamous stories. Many times the parables appear on the surface to be just simple accounts of ordinary events filled with one main meaning. As Jesus spoke the parable of the tenants, the religious leaders sensed conviction. This parable had a point, and it pointed straight to them. Fear kept them from taking action that day but their sinful hearts filled with greater envy, anger and conviction as this brief story drew to a close.
The details of the story are simple. A man planted a vineyard, built a wall, prepared a winepress pit and a watchtower and then rented out his property to tenants while he took his journey away from this real estate investment. As owner, he expected an investment, a return of some of the fruit which this cultivated property had produced.
He sent many servants, who acted on his behalf, and had come in the Owner’s name with His authority to reap a harvest. The first servant was seized, beaten and sent away. The second was likewise attacked and treated shamefully. A third was killed. He continued to rightfully send servants, some who suffered great violence from the tenants and others whose life-work was sealed with their own blood.
As the ultimate harvest time drew closer, the Owner sent his own son. The tenants would respect him, would they not? Yet this son was plotted against, seized, killed and expelled from the vineyard. The persistent state of rejection by the tenants of everyone associated with the Owner was staggering!
Jesus pressed the audience with a few questions, a clear verdict and drove the point home with the final authority for faith and practice, the scriptures.
“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” These rejectors would be rejected. These tenants who were determined to resist the will of the Owner, would reap what they had sown and others would be given the amazing opportunity which they had treated so lightly.
These scripturally literate, religious renegades knew better. They read the scriptures. They knew the scriptures but they had missed the point. Sadly we often imitate their example. We fill our heads with information. We may be ‘Bible heads’ able to win any sword drill in Sunday school (Remember those?), answer any Biblical trivia question, yet not end up more surrendered to the will of the One who gave this book and His Son to us.
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?” ‘Well, uhhh, yes we read that one. But we never imagined the psalmist was writing about us. We never saw ourselves in the text,’ we can imagine them protesting.
So how do you and I read the Scriptures? Like an encyclopedia picking up facts and figures and filling our minds with simple information or as an instruction manual-you know the type–You’ve bought a new product which you really need, but you’re not sure how it works. You read it and read it and read it again. You call the manufacturer’s help line. You speak to other owners until you have worked through your uncertainty and discovered the wonders of what you now own. As you gain confidence, you start urging family and friends to make a similar investment. You don’t know how you have lived without this. You urge them to try out yours and before long they too share the joy you have been experiencing. We pursue the Scriptures together as hunters seek their prey, as miners probe the deep recesses of the earth to capture the minerals which are only found by those who diligently seek them!
As John Newton wrote on This Day in Christian History –
“Whatever we may undertake with a sincere desire to promote His glory, we may comfortably pursue. Nothing is trivial that is done for Him.”