Snow, Vineyards, and Stones (oh my)

Categories Theology, Uncategorized

Believe it or not, it actually snowed!! Yes, in Alabama. It happens on occasion, but most of the time they threaten snow, then nothing happens. Even when something does happen it’s not enough to actually stick, or it’s only a light dusting that only lasts till the sun rises. But not this one, oh no. This amazing miraculous phenomenon occurred mid day in broad daylight. Two days before it was sunny and 70 degrees. The day before it was warm and rainy. Snow began in the morning, but was chased by rain midmorning removing any accumulation on random things like trampolines. We thought it was over, all hope was lost, but then as we ate lunch it began again. Only this time it snowed harder, and the temperature continued to get colder. Over the course of about an hour and a half we watched a couple inches of the beautiful white stuff accumulate not just on trampoline mats and plastic chairs, oh no, actually on the ground. And it was the good snow. You know the stuff, the kind that is perfect for packing into snowballs or rolling for snowmen. It was quite unbelievable. Now it’s the following weekend and once again in the 70’s. Alabama global warming weather, you just gotta love it. You never know what to expect. It had been ten years ago we would have blamed it on El Nino. Now, on to thoughts.

I recently finished a book by Brad Young – Jesus the Jewish Theologian. It’s an interesting book that looks at Jesus through the lens of the jewish theology of his day. This type of work should have been going on for millennia, but with Christianity’s distancing of itself from Judaism long ago we have robbed ourselves of this type of work. It brings new layers of depth and insight into the life and teachings of Jesus. I have been fascinated with this type of perspective for quite a while, and I had already read one of Brad Young’s book on Jesus’ Parables. So, some of this book was repetition and reinforcement. But, I did want to share an insight from one of his chapters.

In one chapter he discusses the parable of The Tenant Farmers, which he says should be called the parable of The Only Son. You may be familiar with the story. There are these tenant farmers who are working for an absentee landlord (a common practice of the day). When it’s time the landlord sends servants to collect his portion, but the farmers beat them up. Then the landlord decides to send his only son, thinking surely they’ll respect him. They see it’s the only son, who would be heir to the property and think, we’ll kill him, then when the landlord dies we’ll get the property to ourselves. Then Jesus finishes the parable with a statement about the stone the builders rejected being the cornerstone and how it will smash anyone it falls upon and anyone who falls on it will shatter. Now, I’ve always understood this parable as having something to do with a rejection of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, but that was because of the focus (on the tenant farmers and the property). And, quite honestly I never really got the whole thing about the cornerstone, just that it somehow represented Jesus who is the foundation or cornerstone of our faith. But, Brad Young puts it into a context.

First, Jesus is moving toward his crucifixion. Second, there is a context to the parable. First Jesus is quoting Psalm 118 (the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The rabbis believed this referred to King David who was rejected by his father Jesse as well as Samuel at first, but then went on to become King and cornerstone of the kingdom. Then, there was also actually already a parable that the rabbis told about a stone and pots. How if a stone falls on a pot it will break the pot, but if a pot falls on the stone it will also break the pot. This parable was about the Hebrew people, saying that no matter what happened to them they would continue to survive regardless of attack.

So, Jesus tells this parable about the only son, who is killed. But, then he attaches these sayings about being rejected and yet surviving. Jesus in this parable may actually be referring to himself, the only son, the cornerstone (reference to himself as son of David) who would be rejected, referring to his crucifixion (the only son is killed), and referring to his resurrection, because despite being killed he will still survive (no matter what happens to him he will survive – the stone falling on and smashing and things falling on it being shattered.) I found that insightful and quite brilliant. So I thought I would share. But, Zoe’s crying so I’ll try to edit and make it a little more coherent later.

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