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March 13th: Control



Scripture: Mark 12:1-27


Control                 

Three sections of scripture are presented here, each dense enough to serve as a separate devotion. There seems to be a common thread tying them together: our desire for control. We often seek to assert authority and gain control, a theme explicitly evident in the last two stories when Jesus faces tests from leaders. The leaders seek to control Jesus by their questioning.  In the first of these two stories, the religious leaders want to control their money, but they must pay taxes.  They want to keep their money; they don’t like having to pay taxes to Rome; and they don’t think their money goes to fund anything worthwhile (this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg).  In the second story, the Sadducees' query about marriage and resurrection is a purposeful controlling tactic because they don’t believe in the resurrection. Jesus answers, emphasizing transformation and quotes the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the bible is where the Sadducees lived).  This is a similar answer that I have heard from some of you:  Whatever questions I have, I will be so happy to be in heaven that my questions won’t matter.


As much as we strive for control, we come to realize, even when we are in control, we are not in control. But that has never seemed to stop us from trying. This realization forms the crux of our relationship with God, encapsulated in the Parable of the Tenants, a twelve-verse summary of the Bible. In this parable, the owner of the vineyard symbolizes God, who, like a vineyard owner, created the universe and entrusted it to humanity as stewards. However, our desire for control often leads us astray. The vineyard represents our world, abundant with everything we need, and God seeks acknowledgment as its owner. Humanity is represented through the renters, who struggle with control, not giving God what’s due to Him. When the harvest approaches, God sends prophets to remind humanity of their responsibility. Yet, instead of acknowledging God's ownership, humanity rebels, rejecting and mistreating the prophets sent as messengers.  Even when God sends His own Son, expecting reconciliation, humanity perceives it as an opportunity to eliminate the heir. The rejection of the Son mirrors the rejection of the stone.  This stone discarded by humanity becomes the cornerstone of a New Covenant, illustrating God's enduring love and pursuit of reconciliation. The question for us today is: will we continue to reject God's love?


I don’t have just one story to share about my need for control; there are tons of little stories that outline my personal shortcomings.  Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation. Nonetheless, I am grateful for God's persistent love despite my continual shortcomings, likely stemming from my misguided belief in my own authority and desire for control. Today, let us embrace God's love and relinquish our futile attempts at control.

 

Questions:

  1. Reflecting on the theme of control throughout the scripture passages, how do you personally grapple with the tension between desiring control and recognizing God's sovereignty in your life?

  2. In the Parable of the Tenants, the vineyard owner sends prophets and ultimately his own Son in attempts to reconcile with the rebellious tenants. How does this narrative resonate with your understanding of God's relentless pursuit of relationship with humanity?

  3. The rejection of the Son in the parable symbolizes humanity's rejection of God's ultimate offer of reconciliation. How can we guard against the temptation to assert our own authority and instead embrace God's love and guidance in our lives?

Prayer:

Dear God, amid our longing for control, we pause to acknowledge Your unwavering sovereignty over all creation. Help us to release our grip on the illusion of control and surrender to Your divine guidance. Thank You for Your love and all the times You have continued to reach out to offer us Your reconciliation. Amen.

 

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