Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Grant, O God,that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 823)
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
This reading plan will help you to develop the habit of being in God’s Word each morning and evening. Come to this time with expectation. Expect God to reveal himself to you. Expect that he delights in you being there, even when you’ve wandered away. Growing a spiritual habit is a slow, patient process. So be kind to yourself as you grow!
Readings are hyperlinked. Simply hover over the passage or click Morning/Evening Reading (email version).
Praying the Psalms: Read slowly. Take note of words and phrases. Bring them before the Lord in prayer and personalize the passage as you pray.
NT Context: In deliberate parallel to the opening words of Genesis, John presents God as speaking salvation into existence. This time God’s word takes on human form and enters history in the person of Jesus. Jesus speaks the word and it happens: forgiveness and judgment, healing and illumination, mercy and grace, joy and love, freedom and resurrection. Everything broken and fallen, sinful and diseased, called into salvation by God’s spoken word. Jesus, in this account, not only speaks the word of God; he is the Word of God.Meditate on the passage, noting a few words or a phrase that stood out. Take them to God in prayer.
OT Context: The Exodus is a powerful and dramatic and true story of God working salvation. The story has generated an extraordinary progeny through the centuries as it has reproduced itself in song and poem, drama and novel, politics and social justice, repentance and conversion, worship and holy living. It continues to capture the imagination of men and women, especially men and women in trouble. It is significant that God does not present us with salvation in the form of an abstract truth, or a precise definition or a catchy slogan, but as story. Reflect on the passage. Who was the original audience, and what was their situation? How is that relevant to you today?
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) for Sunday’s sermon. Go ahead and read the following passage(s) and use theParables Reading Plan + Study Guideto journal what stands out and what you have questions about in the passages. Below is a helpful commentary that can help to fill in the gaps.
Read: Mark 12:1–12 + Daniel 2:44-45 + Psalm 1
Michael Card gives us excellent insights into Mark’s telling of the parable, so we’ll let him speak to us today,
“This parable is usually referred to as the “parable of the tenants” and is based on a beautiful song in Isaiah 5:1-7. In the song, the prophet sings to the one he loves: God.In his vision, the Lord has planted a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He hopes for a crop of good grapes, but it yields only bad ones. The dark song goes on to speak of judgment, of the protective wall around the vineyard being torn down, of rain being withheld, of destruction.
In Jesus’ parable, it is simply a “man” who goes through the laborious preparations involved in planting a vineyard. He rents it to some farmers and leaves on a journey. In Jesus’ day, absentee landlords were common, especially in the fertile area of Galilee, and landlords were paid rent based on a portion of the harvest. The images in this story were readily available in Jesus’ listeners’ experience. When the landlord in the parable sends one of his servants to collect what is due him, the servant is beaten and sent away. One after another the landlord sends his servants to collect what he is owed. Each one is beaten; some are murdered. Throughout Scripture, the term “servant” is a code word for prophet (see Jer 7:25; Ezek 38:17; Dan 6:9; Amos 3:7; Zech 1:6).
Jesus’ parable reaches back into Israel’s history even as it looks forward into what will become his own experience in a matter of days. Out of desperation, the naïve landlord decides to send his beloved son, thinking the tenants will recognize his authority and respect him. But the tenants conclude that if the son is coming, the father must have died. If he is out of the picture, they can claim the vineyard for themselves. So they murder the son, throwing his body out of the vineyard. The final insult, neglecting even to bury him, would have represented a particular outrage in Jewish culture. It is an engaging story, designed to disgust the listeners. In Luke’s version, someone in the crowd blurts out, “No—never!” (Lk 20:16).
Now comes the first of five questions in this chapter. It is Jesus’ question, “What will the owner of the vineyard do?” (Mk 12:9)…The owner will kill the tenants, says Jesus, and give the vineyard to others. The majority of the listeners may or may not recognize the source of the story as Isaiah’s song, but there is no question that the priests and scribes understand. They are about to be kicked out of their own party. I imagine Jesus’ final words being spoken in the simmering silence of the crowd.
The common folk are outraged by the story, the religious leaders infuriated by its deeper implications. Then Jesus uses another code word, one that refers back to Psalm 118:22-23. Earlier the word “servant” had a dual meaning. This word, “stone” (eben), sounds much like the word for “son” (ben). The rejected stone is code for the rejected son. The presence of this statement in Mark is another of Peter’s fingerprints on the text. His understanding of Jesus as the stone was fundamental to the way he perceived Jesus, himself and the community of believers.
Coming to him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God—you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Ponder: Read 1 Peter 2:4-8. How does Peter’s experience of Jesus as the cornerstone compare to your own?
Evening Prayer of Examen
Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
Return O my soul to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:7)