Rebels in a vineyard…

17 October 2013

Authority – and rebellion against authority – were key themes in last Sunday’s sermon.

In fact, through the whole Bible we see this pattern of humankind rebelling against God’s rule. The claim of the Bible is simple but crushing: all have rebelled against God and face his condemnation; we live in God’s world, but with ourselves as king.

We resist that verdict and try to explain away God’s existence (an ironic expression of our rebellion against him); or we try to deny the charge of ‘rebellion’ altogether. The events in the final few chapters of Mark’s gospel don’t give us that get-out clause. The ultimate proof of whether or not we are rebels against God is, what do we do when He shows up?

The real proof of whether I’m hungry or not is how I feel when I smell a pizza in the oven; the closer I get to the pizza, the more it reveals how hungry I am. In the same way, when God takes on human flesh and walks among us as a man, it exposes the true intensity of our rebellion against Him. What does humankind do when God shows up? Execute him.

Jesus’ loaded parable foretells his death; we are such rebels that we execute God, thinking it will remove our obligation to Him. But, here in the lowest point of humanity’s history, God is working something ‘marvellous’. Note the irony; we think we are ‘winning’ by killing Jesus. In fact, God’s plan is to make a rescue possible through exactly what we are doing. Once we see this – that Jesus is willingly dying in order to stand in our place and satisfy God’s punishment against us rebels – it cuts us to the heart. We see that God really is a God of love. What he has done – in the midst of our appalling rebellion – is truly marvellous.

This blog post was written by Dan Martin.