R. Alan Culpepper comments on the significance of “beloved son” (v. 5) in the parable:
“In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is addressed as the ‘beloved son’ at his baptism (1:11) and at his transfiguration (9:7). The meaning is clear. The owner’s decision to send his beloved son is also a parabolic response to the question posed to Jesus by the chief priests, scribes, and elders: ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ (11:28). By telling the story of the killing of the vineyard owner’s beloved son, Mark is also foreshadowing Jesus’ imminent death.” (Mark: Smyth & Helwys Commentary, 2007, p. 408).
Reading the Scripture
Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:
• The Formations Commentary presents Barbara Brown Taylor’s version of the story set on a Georgia peach orchard, pp. 64-66.
o The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the church office.)
• The parables of the kingdom, we study in this unit, deal with agricultural themes. Invite a farmer each week to speak to the parables from a farmer’s perspective.
• Stewardship Committee: This parable reminds us that we are tenants and God is the landowner. We are merely stewards of God’s vineyard. Perhaps if we take this parable seriously we should consider the stewardship committee one of the most important committees in the church. According to our committee lists, the Stewardship Committee is “Responsible for planning and directing stewardship programs in the church.”
Our stewardship committee is (last year of service in parentheses):
(12) Hazel Evans
(12) Ted Monroe
(13) Judee Vanderpool (chairperson)
(13) Margie Dievert
(14) Bill Elliott
(14) Marian Gibson
o Discuss: How can we support the work of our stewardship committee?
o Say a prayer for our stewardship committee
• The Formations Teaching Guide has some questions for dialogue at the bottom of page 69, “Have we managed [the kingdom God entrusted to us] well?” “Have we played the role of landowner and forgotten that we are merely tenants?”
Consider these questions in light of:
o Our Mission Statement and Core Values (attached to the end of this session). How well do our Mission Statement and Core Values reflect God’s priorities versus our own priorities?
o Our Church Budget (available in the church office): It has been suggested that a church budget is a theological document and that if you really want to see what a church believes look at the budget. Is our budget consistent with our Mission Statement and Core Values? How well does our church budget reflect God’s priorities versus our own priorities?
o Our Giving (see the bulletin for current giving and the Key online newsletter for our giving since the beginning of the year): How well do we support the church budget? What does our giving say about how well we understand that we are tenants and God is the landowner?
o What if we consider all that we as church members possess—our homes, cars, clothes, and bank accounts? Judging by the way we handle these resources, who really owns it?
• George White tells about how the church used to conduct stewardship campaigns. They pulled out a large chalk board, he says, and started calling names, asking them what they would give or even asking if they would give a specific amount, “Robert, can I put you down for $100?” Then they wrote names on the chalk board along with the dollar amount each would give. If George is back in Danville when you study this lesson, you might invite him to come to your class and tell the story.
o How would we react to a process like that in our church today?
o Would our reaction be anything like the tenants in the parable?
o Would our reaction say anything about our understanding of God’s ownership?
• Invite class members to reflect on the Parable of the Rent in worship today: “Today in worship we will pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,’ consider how part of the evil we want to avoid is our pride that says that we own the kingdom instead of God. Reflect on the ways we claim ownership of God’s kingdom. ”
• For a better understanding of farming in New Testament times see Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life (Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 172-185).
• These dictionaries in the library have articles on “Parables” and “the Kingdom of God”:
o Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990)
o Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised and Updated (Harper & Row, 2011)
o The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Five Volume Set (Abingdon, 1976)
• For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)
Lexington Avenue Baptist Church exists
to proclaim the Good News of Christ Jesus to all people,
to promote private and congregational worship,
to nurture Christian growth, and
to sustain others through service, love, prayer and fellowship.
We value our Baptist heritage.
We value our Baptist heritage, which shapes how we live out our faith in an ever-changing society. We believe all are called and gifted and thus encouraged to participate in ministry and leadership in the church. (1 Peter 2:9; I Peter 4:10)
We value friendliness.
Through Christian fellowship we develop meaningful relationships with our church family. We value each person as a child of God. We seek to be warm and accepting, extending Christian love to everyone. (1 John 4:19-21, James 2:8, 23; 2 John 6; Col. 3:12-14; Philippians 2:2-5)
We value caring.
We value the relationship we share in Christ, and so we care for one another in times of joy and sorrow. As the scriptures say, “Be ye kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other.” (Ephesians 4:32)
We value missions.
In obedience to Christ we seek to share his message of salvation, build relationships, and join hands with others to help meet physical needs. We seek toaccomplish this through prayer, sharing of God’s word, hands on missions, and financial support. Using Acts 1:8 as a guide we practice this locally, nationally, and globally. (Acts 1:8, John 20:21, Matthew 28:19-20)
We value worship.
Worship is an expression of the church’s love for God. We value worship that is joyful, diverse, reverent, and inspiring. Through worship “we celebrate the joy of our salvation. We praise God for the life, death, and resurrection of the Son. We worship God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who loves us like a father and mother, who is always redeemingus, and whose grace empowers and sustains us.” (From LABC baptismal affirmation) (Psalm 95:6, Hebrews 12:28)
We value music.
We value music, which is joyful and diverse, inspiring and comforting to ourselves and others, uplifting and spiritual. Music expresses our worship of God, unites us as a body of faith, and enhances our personal connection to God. (Psalm 95:1-2, Colossians 3:16)
We value prayer.
Communicating directly with God through prayer strengthens our personal relationship with God and gives us access to God’s power and purpose. Personal and corporate prayer includes expressions of thanksgiving, praise, confession, intercession, and petition. (Matthew 6:9-13, Philippians 4:6, I Thessalonians. 5:17-18)
We value spiritual growth.
We are committed to equip and to help our church family to cultivate deeper relationships with Christ and to become effective ministers. Our spiritual growth is shaped through age appropriate Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and other opportunities for spiritual formation. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)