Thursday 2 January 2014

Mark 12:1-27 - Tenants, tax and marriage

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Having just used the example of a fig tree to show how Israel will wither away, Jesus now elaborates by telling a  relevant story (Mark 12:1-12). The vineyard in the story also represents Israel, it is well equipped for every circumstance and is left in charge of people who know how to manage it.

The Jewish leaders knew that Jesus was referring to them as bad tenants, and they were furious. The only reason they didn't act was that the supporting crowds intimidated them.

Instead they tried a different ploy, if they could get him to speak against the Roman occupation and against Caesar in particular they could hand him over as a rebel calling for disobedience and tax evasion. But Jesus is not easily caught, even when there seems to be no way out (Mark 12:13-17).

Next the Sadducees come with a tough legal issue, but they, too, get nowhere (Mark 12:18-27).

Jesus has not only parried three different attempts to question him, he has also answered in ways that engage and amuse the crowds. Isn't this what every great speaker wants to do? See what an amazing man he is in terms of his speaking; nobody can expound the truth as he can. And his use of stories is extraordinarily skilful.

We'll never equal Jesus in skill with words. But we can learn from him; I'd argue that he wants us to learn from him. The art of story-telling has not been lost, but perhaps it's underused in western countries.

Here's a suggestion. Rehearse a few stories in your own words until they are really familiar. Choose some stories that Jesus told, include some events from the Bible, and add in a few stories from your own life. Try telling relevant stories to people who need to hear them - just like Jesus did [Tweet it!]. Ask others to tell you their stories too.

You might be surprised at the opportunities that will open up in this way.

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