Are You Actually Rejecting Jesus?

by Aug 7, 2018

A vineyard is used to talk about the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Israel was the people that God chose to be his particular people, to follow him closely. They weren’t a great nation when he chose them. They were just a patch of dirt. But then God built this beautiful vineyard. I mean look at the details in Isaiah 5 and Mark 12: he broke up the soil, he cleared the stones, and he put a watchtower in it to protect it. This is God’s vineyard. These are God’s people. He gave them everything, made them who they are, He owned them. But instead of yielding good fruit, they produced worthless fruit in Isaiah 5. Instead of giving back to God what is his, they killed his servants and even his Son in Mark 12.

That’s pretty much the history of God’s people. Instead of responding to God’s kindness and goodness by obeying him, they reject him. That’s the story of all humanity. God did the same thing for Adam and Eve. He was good to them, gave them everything, and they rejected him. And it’s our story now too. It’s what Jesus is going to tell us all throughout Mark 12:1-27. 

In this vineyard he’s talking about, he says the owner sends a servant to collect rent. But not only do the people leasing the vineyard not pay, they also beat the servant, and then another, and another, then they kill some. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I owned a house and I sent my property manager to collect rent, and the tenants beat him up, not even killed him, just beat him up, I’m evicting them and calling the cops. Your chances are up, yo.

But the owner is unbelievably patient with them. He sends another. And another. Until he decides to send his son. Surely they’ll listen to his son, because his son has ownership over the vineyard like the father does. Sending his son is like coming himself to the vineyard. And what do they do? They kill the son, the owner of the vineyard. Why? They want to be the owners themselves of the vineyard.

So what does the owner do? He comes and wrecks shop. There are real consequences to rejecting the son. Jesus is teaching that if we openly rebel against God by rejecting his son, then God will punish our rebellion. But just like those farmers, we want to reject Jesus and have ownership of our own lives. 

We want to own our lives, own our time, own our money, own our plans, own everything. That’s our nature. So we reject Jesus because to accept him means that our view on all those other things will change. What we do with those things will change.

Because it says God has made Jesus, the son, to be the cornerstone, the foundation of what God’s doing in the world. God is building a new people, a new vineyard that he owns. He’s caring for it, repairing it’s brokenness, and the cornerstone of it, the thing that it all depends on, is Jesus. 

Look at what 1 Peter 2 says: “As you come to [Jesus], a living stone — rejected by people but chosen and honored by God — you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” God is building a spiritual house, the church. Jesus is the foundation of the church, the foundation of what we believe, and everything we do. But even still, we’re tempted in ways to reject Jesus. 

That’s what we see with these next 2 groups. Look at verse 13: “Then they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus to trap him in his words.” Here are two groups of people who’ve totally rejected Jesus. The Pharisees were religious leaders of Israel who believed that you have to follow all of God’s rules perfectly and even some rules that they made up or else God wouldn’t accept you. They rejected that Jesus was Lord over salvation. They thought they could earn God’s favor without Jesus. 

The Herodians were about as opposite of that as you could get. They just lived for themselves and their own advancement, were all about power and prestige and authority. They rejected that Jesus was Lord of their pursuits. They totally lived for themselves and weren’t gonna let a Jewish Rabbi tell them how to live their lives. 

We see ourselves in both of these group. We don’t want to trust Jesus with our salvation, we think we can do that on our own, by just being good people, having our good works outweigh our bad, or by being really religious. The way you might know if you do this is thinking about what you do when you sin. When you mess up, when you do something that Jesus had to die for, what’s your response? If you’re a Herodian, you just won’t care. No big deal. I can do what I want, right? If you’re a Pharisee, you’d punish yourself. You’d feel like you need to wallow in shame, or make it up to God, or pray extra or go to church more. You’re not trusting in what God says in Romans 8 that there is now no zero condemnation for someone in Christ. 

We don’t want to trust God with our pursuits, we want to live our lives any way that makes sense to us or makes us happy. The way you might know that you reject Jesus in this way is by how you pray. When decisions need to be made, opportunities come up, maybe to make a big purchase or take a new job or move to a new city, do you pray about that at all? Or WHEN do you pray? When you’ve already made the decision, and you’re just kinda telling God to get on board with it? Do you to submit your pursuits to God and trust him to guide you? Or have you rejected him as lord of your pursuits. He’s just along for the ride in your life. 

As these guys try to trap Jesus, they make it clear that they’re rejecting Jesus as Lord of their possessions as well. Later in Mark 12, another group, the Sadducees, reject that Jesus is Lord of their future. All of us are tempted to reject Jesus in ways in our lives.

In each of these cases, Jesus says that they’re rejecting him because they don’t know or understand the Scriptures. That’s what he traces their rejection back to. The less we understand God’s Word, the less we read it, study it, hear it, experience it, talk about it with others, the more and more that we will reject Jesus. But the opposite is true. The more we understand it and believe it and live it, the more we embrace Jesus and have joy, peace, and love in this life.