Sunday, September 28, 2008

Proper 21 - Matthew 21:28-32

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

September 28, 2008
Proper 21
Matthew 21:28-32

Let us pray to the Lord…

God of love, You know our frailties and failings. Give us Your grace to overcome them; keep us from these things that harm us; and guide us in the way of salvation.”

The Bible testifies to the fact that all are sinners, whether in the church or in the world. In that event, why become a Christian? Why become committed to Jesus Christ? If all are sinners, even Christians, who can be saved? It is important for Christians to realize they are sinners lest they become holier-than-thou in their attitude toward non- Christians.

It is not a matter of being a sinner; it matters what kind of sinner you are. One type is missing and another is retrieved and reinstated. The two sons represent two kinds of sinners.

1. The lost sinner — the one who said, “I go, sir” — v. 30.

A. He had respect and piety — “Sir.” One of the sons was very polite and respectful of his father. He addressed him as “Sir.” This son said he would go to work as the father expected. He gave the right answer and showed the proper respect, but he was not as good as his word. This son represents “religious people” who know the right things to say in worship and prayer and in life.

They consent to God’s laws and make promises to obey, but do nothing. They gave confession without execution. The have “rigor without submission Orthodoxy without obedience”.[1]

Jesus says these people do not get into the kingdom. They failed to repent. This does not mean that we are saved by acts of obedience, but it points out that a superficial and artificial relationship with God does not count. How so? They fail in two respects.

B. They give only lip service — He said emphatically: “I go.” There are the obedient ones who refuse to obey. They see no need for Christ.

C. They fail to act. He cannot do what he promised. He can not produce —“but did not go.” Failed to do what he said – “but did not go” Lip service is inadequate, but how can we do the Father’s will and not simply say, “I will”?

Transition: The way of righteousness is that Jesus calls us sinful sons to enter the kingdom through repentance. This involves sorrow over our sins and faith that God has forgiven our sins and declared us righteous because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit He gives us a God given resolve to be righteous in our every day life.

2. The saved sinner — v. 29. He repented and He obeyed.

A. He repented — “he repented.” Here is a case of repentance in action. There was an “about face” in his life. One son refused to go to work in his father’s vineyard. Then he changed his mind and went to work. This about-face, this change of mind from disobedience, from no to yes, from going in the wrong direction to turning in the right direction is the meaning of repentance. When the religious leaders heard the Baptist’s call to repentance, they did not heed it, while the sinners of the day did. It was shocking to the professional religious leaders that Jesus claimed the sinners and not the religious ones were in the kingdom. He is a sinner –yet saved by grace.

He repented – “he repented” He turned from his sinful ways. He came to the understanding that he was in need of a change in his life. He turned from his evil ways. The way of righteousness is that Jesus calls us sinful sons to enter the kingdom through repentance.

This involves sorrow over our sins; and faith that God has in fact forgiven our sins and declared us righteous. This has happened because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

B. Obeyed — “He went.” He is the disobedient who now obeys.
1. They turn from evil to good
2. They respond to Christ.

Notice that there is action to the young man’s resolve. By the power of the Holy Spirit there is a God pleasing resolve to be righteous. It is Jesus Christ who has changed us. It is His Holy Spirit which works in us to will and to do the Father’s good and gracious will.

"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew 21:31

He who has entered the kingdom through repentance loves not just in word but in deed and in truth; his faith is not dead, without works, but alive and bearing fruit.

[1] BOBO’s in Paradise by David Brooks

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