Daily Devotion for March 8, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
But I must go alone
Till the Lord comes and calls, calls me away.
Well the morning's so bright
And the lamp is alight
And the night, night is as fair as the day.
[Alt: And the night is as dark as the sea.]
There will be peace in the valley for me,
There will be peace in the valley for me,
oh Lord I pray.
There'll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me.
Well the bear will be gentle
And the wolves will be tame,
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb.
And the beasts from the wild
Shall be led by a child,
And I'll be changed, changed from this creature
That I am.
For the Day's Work
O God, who orders all things in heaven and earth: Help me to go about the tasks and duties of this day with the remembrance that I am your servant therein. Make me honest, painstaking, and cheerful, and grant that all I do and say may bring good to others and glory to your Holy Name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
[I am God's cheerful servant.]
Prayer to Treat Others with Courage and Grace
Lord, this day and forever, may I have the courage never to be afraid of anyone. May I have the generosity to bear ill-feeling toward no-one. Lead me to live in such a way as to treat others in the same way as I would like to be treated. Inspire me never to be violent in thought, word or action, and lead me to conquer evil with goodness.
Prayer for Those Who Have Served in War
God of compassion, God of dignity and strength, watch over the veterans of our blessed nation who have served with loyalty and at great sacrifice. Bless them with wholeness and love. Shelter those who are in want, heal those who bear wounds, comfort the hearts of those who have lost friends and family, and bring peace to all who are haunted by the terrible memories of war.
Protect them and their families from loneliness and want. Grant them lives of joy and bounty. And may their dedication and honor, which have shielded us from tyranny, be remembered as a blessing from generation to generation.
Lord, in utter humility I thank you and glorify you, that you might hear the prayer of one so small as myself, amidst the billions of souls among billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies in your universe. Let me go forth in your peace, keeping your Spirit always in my mind; and bless me, I pray, that I might always follow your will and live in the radiance of your blessing.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 80:7-12 (ESV)
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
It sent out its branches to the sea
and its shoots to the River.
Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
Matthew 21:33-41 (ESV)
The Parable of the Tenants
“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.
Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
Notes on the Scripture
Parables and allegory are overlapping descriptions of stories, very similar in meaning with only a shade of difference. In an allegory, the author intends a more direct one-to-one correspondence of the characters and actions in the story, to people and events in the world. The Parable of the Tenants is perhaps the most allegorical of the parables, because Jesus is describing specific people and a specific series of events.
The master is God, the Father and the house is the Kingdom of God. The vineyard is Israel, the Jewish nation in Canaan. In this regard, read the quotation from Psalm 80, just above; Israel as a vine or vineyard was a common metaphor in Jewish literature, and Christ's pointed meaning become even more clear because of it.
God has built a fence around them in both a literal physical sense — he defined the boundaries of the land he gave to them — and perhaps in a more metaphorical sense: He gave them the law, which separated the Jews from all other people.
The winepress is the bounty of the land, God's gift of “milk and honey” to the Jews in Canaan, and the tower is the Temple. Having situated his chosen people, he went into another country — we might call this heaven — and left the nation in the care of the “tenants”, the priesthood of Aaron and, later, also the kings. The fruit of this vineyard is righteousness before God; but when God sent his prophets to Israel and Judah, they were killed by the very people who were supposed to be the stewards.
Finally, God sends his Son, who will soon be killed by the same tenants: the high priests. And what will become of those who kill Christ? They will be put to death — and not a death of the body, but the true death that comes only by God's wrath against the sinful. And he will find new tenants: all those who, whether Jewish or Gentile, will confess that Jesus is the Christ and repent of their sins through his sacrifice.
We can call this a parable or an allegory, but we could also call it prophecy. It accurately predicts the specific events to follow, up until today. We live in a specific age, the age described at the end of this parable, between Christ's ascension and his coming again.