What will the owner do? 5 March 2015

The important Entombment of Christ dating from the first decade of the 17th century is attributed to Sisto Badalocchio. Here human participation in the event has become the main focus. The painter has focussed on the emotions as reflected in natural movements.

Mark 12 6 ‘He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, “They will respect my son.” 7 ‘But the tenants said to one another, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 ‘What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.

1 Peter 1 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

God had earlier tried the prophets, but people always rejected their summons to salvation. They had stood for centuries on the shorelines of eternity, crying out to those who were perishing. They watched with sadness as the people rejected their messages and the nation perished. Finally, God sent Jesus. But those who had earlier martyred the prophets soon made a martyr of God’s only begotten Son.

Jesus’ death states the dilemma of God in Mark 12: "What will the owner of the vineyard do?" The very question tenderly addresses the demand for justice. Either in this life or the one to come, there must be pardon or sentence. Both grace and retribution have one thing in common: they come with the tears of God. God wept when Jesus died. He could not save both his only beloved Son and humankind, so he chose to save humankind and let his Son die. But God still weeps over all who perish.

Each time you think of Easter, think on this: of all your sins, the most grievous is walking past Calvary without remorse, feeling no need to apologise for Good Friday. You and I were not cheaply redeemed.

Lord Jesus, I must not approach Easter with a gratitude grown old and routine. I am saved by your blood and your Father’s tears. I must praise you for love like this.