Genesis and Mark, Part XXI: Reconciliation Versus Destruction   1 comment


Above:  The Wicked Husbandmen


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 42:1-34, 38

Psalm 119:73-80 (Morning)

Psalms 121 and 6 (Evening)

Mark 12:1-12


Some Related Posts:

Genesis 42:

Mark 12:

Matthew 21 (Parallel to Mark 12):



Selling anyone into slavery is a wicked act.  That statement seems self-evident, does it not?  Yet that is what Joseph’s brothers plotted to do to him.  And so he went to Egypt involuntarily.  Years later, with severe famine widespread, most of these brothers met Joseph again without recognizing him.  And he tested them while setting in motion plans for a family reunion.  In return for wickedness there was grace, even if it wore a disguise.

In contrast we have the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, which we find in all three Synoptic Gospels.  (It also appears in Matthew 21:33-46 and Luke 20:9-19.)  The chronology in each case is quite similar:  It is Holy Week, Jesus having expelled the money changers from the Temple recently.  The accounts from Mark and Luke end in the same way, more or less, as does that of Matthew, but the latter adds an explicit wrinkle left implicit in the other Gospels:

I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

–Matthew 21:43, The New Jerusalem Bible

This is a troublesome parable.  God looks like an absentee landlord who demands the fruits of other’s labor.  So one might sympathize with the frustrations, if not the violence, of the wicked tenants.  Yet that is beside the point.  In textual context, Jesus is the murdered son and the Temple authorities are the wicked tenants.  Read in the context of the First Jewish War and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, events in the shadows of which the canonical Gospels exist, the Christians (many of them Jewish at the time) are the new tenants.

Such stories have become fodder for Anti-Semites.  This is most unfortunate.  I reject hatred toward any group of people, especially the Jews, the truck of the tree onto which my branch, the Gentiles, is grafted, by grace.

So we have two responses to evil:  reconciliation and destruction.  The latter attitude, as reflected in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, is understandable in the context of the long and messy separation of Christianity from Judaism.  The earliest canonical Gospel, Mark, dates to no earlier than 67 CE.  John, likely the latest one, probably comes from the 90s.  Mutual anger, resentment, and misunderstanding characterized the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity, its offspring.  The canonical Gospels are documents from that particular era, so they reflect the time of their origin.  We humans recall and retell the past in the context of our present; the Gospels are consistent with this rule.

Reconciliation is preferable to destruction, anger, resentment, and misunderstanding.  It is not always possible, for reconciliation is a mutual state.  Yet, if reconciliation does prove impossible because one party is unwilling, the willing party can forgive and refuse to hold a grudge any longer, if at all.  And that is better than mutual hostility.  Did Jesus condemn from the cross?  No, he forgave!  May we, by grace, follow his example and forgive–reconcile, if possible.






Adapted from this post:


One response to “Genesis and Mark, Part XXI: Reconciliation Versus Destruction

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  1. Pingback: Devotion for the Twenty-Third Day of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary) « LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS

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