Saturday, October 4, 2014

Proper 22

Proper 22
Matthew 21:33-46
“This is the heir” – This is not fair!

Still another parable of Jesus –

There was a landowner, who planted a vineyard.
Put a fence around it.
Dug a wine press.
And built a watchtower.

Then He leased it to tenants. And went to another country.
When the harvest time had come.
He sent His slaves to the tenants to collect His produce.

"A certain owner" happens to be the holder of everything. He built the fence. Dug the press. And built the tower. He lent it out to "earth workers." They were hired. To work the ground. It is His fruit after all.

Owners do not pay rent. Who are you? Do you act as though you are the owner of your world and the master of your life? You are “tenants.” You do not own this place. You are not a permanent resident. You are a renter. Obliged to pay rent for the privilege of being on this earth. You are tenants. Expected to share the harvest with the Owner. You have a responsibility. To return to God His just desserts - as owner of the vineyard.

But the tenants seized His slaves; beat one,
Killed another, and stoned another.
Again, He sent other slaves, more than the first;
and they treated them in the same way.

They flogged. They violently and maliciously killed. Notice the progressive acts of violence. Sin compounds sin. It gets worse and WORSE. They are asserting a dominion they do not have. They are not behaving in a manner recognizing the King as the owner.

When a prophet was killed, He kept on sending other prophets and servants. What a remarkable contrast to what most would have done under similar circumstances.

Finally, He sent His Son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my Son.’
But when the tenants saw the Son, they said to themselves,
‘This is the heir; come, let us kill Him and get His inheritance;”
So they seized Him, threw Him out of the vineyard, and killed Him.

This owner. By earthly standards is reckless. And way too patient and lenient.  He sent, at last, His Son...”they will have regard for Him my beloved...they will be shamed by the Son.

The incomprehensible patience and love of the Father produces an unexpected, odd response.

So what do you do when you run across a problem with a troublesome renter? In most cases, you demonstrate, patience – but ultimately and finally, patience has a limit. So also, with God.

Time after time, He came for His due until finally He makes the ultimate appeal in His Son. These earth workers kill Him. And possess the inheritance. This inheritance. It is a gift. This is NOT fair! It makes no sense. You killed My Son. So now, I'll write you into the will, so you receive the inheritance. This is the foolishness of the cross. Your sin kills Jesus! And you receive the inheritance...forgiveness, life, salvation...It's not fair! But it’s grace.

The Lord continues to demonstrate His patience. He is still giving you time - to bring forth the fruit of faith. He continues to love and seek your love. He continues to provide those means which you need to receive His mercy and care.

True, they received Him.  Took Him out of the vineyard. And killed Him. Rebellious tenants kill the Son in the hope of taking over the vineyard by force. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will He do to those tenants?”

They said to Him, “He will put these wretches to a wretched death and give the vineyard to other workers. And lease the vineyard to other tenants. Who will give Him the produce at the harvest time?”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?
Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces;
and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

The Church has, always used these words. The point is, the kingdom will be given to others. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, reminds the crowd, “you killed Him...repent...and your sin will be blotted out...He will be faithful and just and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. This is unfair, unexpected, and Good News.

God brings repentance. He brings contrition.  He brings faith. God brings them all to repentance. This is how the gospel works. The Son dies. And the murders receive the inheritance!

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables,
they realized that he was speaking about them.
They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds,
because they had Him out to be a prophet.

The patience of God also has its limits. Eventually this world will end. Then there will be a final judgment. In these last times. If people reject the Gospel, it will be taken from one and handed to others.

History has demonstrated this reality. The Gospel message began in Jerusalem. It spilled into Judea, Samaria. Finally, the continent of Africa became the epicenter of the Christian movement. Over time, it found its prominence in Europe, then the Americas, and now Africa has become the hub of world Christianity. Luther reminds us that the Gospel is like a cloud. If it is not embraced in one place, it moves on, to nourish another people - somewhere else.
Spurn not His mercy. Receive the tokens of His grace, His compassion, His leniency, His grace.
Words –974
Passive Sentences - 7%
Readability – 81.0
Reading Level -3.5

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