the 18th sunday after pentecost
the PRAYER. . .
Beloved God, from you come all things that are good. Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit to know those things that are right, and by your merciful guidance, help us to do them, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
the READING. . .
[The people] said to [Jesus], “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
the DEVOTION. . .
We’ve stamped those four letters on just about everything! Bracelets! T-shirts! Keychains! Refrigerator magnets! WWJD? It’s shorthand for “What Would Jesus Do?” And they’ve come a long way, over the last hundred-plus years! Of course, they’re advice on living. Living well. Maybe more importantly, living right. Wonder what you should do, just ask yourself, what would Jesus do, then do it? But WWJD is, also, a great way to resolve tensions that crop up when we read the bible. When a passage confuses us. Like the one, this week …
A landowner plants and fences and digs and builds. Then, leases it all to tenants who won’t pay the rent. The slaves are beaten, murdered, and stoned. The son seized, thrown out, and killed. The moral of the story? “[The landowner] will put those wretches to a miserable death!” (The gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, O Christ!)
But ask yourself, what WOULD Jesus do? What DID Jesus do? After being seized and thrown out and executed, himself? Would he – did he – put those wretches to a miserable death? Crush them? Break them in pieces? Or would he – did he – will he – instead, forgive? And save? And deliver? Think about it … WWJD? WWJ – really – D?
Bob Barndt, pastor