Friday, September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020 – Friday prior to Proper 21




Matthew 21:23-27 – The sinner who repents enters the Kingdom of God.  The Gospel lesson tells of two sons, one of whom repented and entered the Kingdom even though at first he disobeyed the Father. In the Parable of the Two Sons we learn a valuable lesson concerning sin and an appeal to turn to God for mercy. With this parable, Jesus confronts the religious leaders of His time (priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) who condemn Jesus for His association with sinners (publicans, prostitutes, and so on). This one son who says, “I go” but does not, represents the religious leaders. The other son who says, “I will not go” but later changes his mind and obeys, represents the sinners. Moreover, Jesus points out that when the religious leaders saw sinners repenting upon hearing John the Baptist, they still did not repent. Consequently, the sinners will enter the kingdom before the leaders will.

Here is a case of repentance in action. One son refused to go to work in his father’s vineyard. Then he changed his mind and went to work. This about-face, 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.

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. God grant this for each of us.

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.[1]



[1] Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Morning Prayer Reading 24 - Joseph's brothers return to Egypt





Joseph’s brothers return to Egypt 
Genesis 43 
(Selected Verses)





43 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man. 14 May God Almighty[a] grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.

15 So the men took this present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.” 

26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present that they had with them and bowed down to him to the ground. 27 And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. 29 And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!30 Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there.

Footnotes:
Genesis 43:14 Hebrew El Shaddai

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020 – Thursday prior to Proper 21



Philippians 2:1-4, 14-18 – Turn from conceit to humility for unity.  


As we have read through Paul’s letter to the Romans this past seventeen weeks we now set our focus on his letter to the Philippians.  Paul in the Epistle lesson appeals for unity in the Philippian congregation. 

Paul, in appealing for unity, presents Jesus as the model of humanity and obedience. Paul pleads for unity in the congregation at Philippi. He uses Jesus as an example of humility. In this lesson Paul shows the dual reality of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. His deity is indicated by the words, “in the form of God” and “equality with God.” His humanity is expressed in the phrases, “emptied himself,” “the likeness of men,” “in human form,” “obedient unto death.” 

This humility and obedience led to Christ’s exaltation. It is God’s will that every tongue confess Him as Lord. In the light of this, Christians are to work out their salvation as God works in them.

What is the solution to lack of church unity? Paul urges his people to have the mind of Christ. His mind was one of humility demonstrated in His taking the form of a servant and dying on a cross.

Humility is expressed by considering others better than yourself and being concerned more about others than yourself. Arrogance and pride divide and cause trouble while humility draws together into a unity.

When someone uses the word “if” to begin a sentence, we must look to the context to determine whether he/she is describing a factual condition or something contrary to fact. The context of this verse makes it clear that Paul is talking about something that is true. There IS “exhortation in Christ.” There IS “consolation of love.” There IS “fellowship of the Spirit.” There ARE “tender mercies and compassion.” Most Christians have experienced at least some of these things and know that they are the case. When Paul says “if,” he intends these Philippian Christians to nod their heads “Yes” and say, “Well, of course there is encouragement in Christ—of course there is consolation in love.”[1]

Paul is  setting the stage with this verse. See verse 2 to see his where he takes this. “Make my joy full” (v. 2a). An “if” clause is often followed by a “then” clause. “If A is true, then B naturally follows”—or “If X is true, then do Y.” In this verse Paul encourages us with these words:

• “If there is any exhortation in Christ, (then) make my joy full.”

• “If there is any consolation of love, (then) make my joy full.”

• “If there is any fellowship of the Spirit, (then) make my joy full.”

• “If there are any tender mercies and compassion, (then) make my joy full.”

With the hymn writer we pray: “Give Thy Church, Lord to see Days of peace and unity.”

A collect for Unity of faith O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. [2]


[1] https://sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/philippians-21-13/

[2] Collect for Unity of faith, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Morning Prayer Reading 23 - Joseph's brothers in Egypt





 Joseph’s brothers in Egypt 
Genesis 42 
(Selected Verses)


3 So ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

6 Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 8 And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.10 They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.”

14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies."18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, 20 and bring your youngest brother to me. So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so.

21 Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.23 They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept. 


English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

September 23, 2020 – Wednesday prior to Proper 21



Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 – A bit of background would be useful. After King Solomon died, Israel split into two kingdoms, the kingdom of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and the kingdom of Judah (the Southern Kingdom). More than a century prior to Ezekiel’s time, Assyria defeated the Northern Kingdom and took its people into exile in Assyria, bringing an end to the Northern Kingdom. Later, Babylonia surpassed Assyria to become the dominant power, and King Nebuchadnezzar ruled supreme.


Jehoiachin’s father, King Jehoiakim, vacillated in his allegiance between Babylon and Egypt. In December 598 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched on Jerusalem in response to Jehoiakim’s flirtation with Egypt. Jehoiakim died, possibly by assassination, and young Jehoiachin assumed the throne at the age of 18 (2 Kings 24:8). Jehoiachin reigned for only three months before King Nebuchadnezzar took him into exile in Babylonia and installed Zedekiah on the throne of Judah as a puppet king (expected to do Nebuchadnezzar’s will). Nebuchadnezzar forced Jerusalem’s most prominent citizens into exile in Babylonia, and carried off “all the treasures of the house of Yahweh” (2 Kings 24:13).

Zedekiah ruled Judah (under Nebuchadnezzar’s thumb) for 11 years. However, he refused to heed the counsel of the prophet Jeremiah, and “did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh his God; he didn’t humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of Yahweh. He also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart against turning to Yahweh, the God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 36:12-13).

In 587 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar responded to Zedekiah’s rebellion by again laying siege to Jerusalem. This time he destroyed the city and killed many of its inhabitants. He took most of the rest of the people to Babylon—leaving behind only the poorest (2 Kings 25). Then a rebellion by some of Judah’s remaining population against Gedaliah, Babylonia’s proxy ruler (2 Kings 25:22-26 Jeremiah 41), inspired a final deportation to Babylon. The prophets made it clear that this was Yahweh’s judgment on Judah for her sins.

The events of this chapter take place between the first and second deportations (597-587 B.C.). Ezekiel’s prophecies speak to the unfaithfulness of Zedekiah and the consequences of his ruinous reign. He also brings a word of hope to the exiles, who will one day be restored to the Promised Land.[1]

God wants all to repent and live. In Sunday’s first reading, God appeals to Israel to repent and live. Turn from evil to good and you shall live. With that we can agree, but the rub comes in making the turn. What will create a desire to change? Where does one get the power to break away from sin to walk in righteousness?

The answer is in “a new heart and a new spirit.” But how does one get a new heart? This takes us to Jesus who said, “You must be born new.” Thus, one does not straighten out his life and then come to Christ. He comes as he is; conceived and born in sin, yet receives a new spirit as well as a full pardon from sin. Only then may he follow a path toward a new way of life.

O God, You are the Strength of all who put their trust in You. Mercifully accept our prayer, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Your help, grant us the help of Your grace that, keeping Your commandments, we may please You in both will and deed.[2]


[2] Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020 – Tuesday prior to Proper 21




Psalm 25:1-10 – The Psalm appointed for next week has as the key verse, verse 6, Be mindful of thy mercy, O Lord, and of thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old.”  The Psalmist asks the Lord to remember the Lord’s long-standing mercy and love but not to remember his long-standing sin.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul."

This Psalm is a plea from the depth of a suffering soul to the God in whom the speaker trusts for deliverance and mercy. Yet despite this trust, the text is a cry of desperation. It points to our longing for God not only to deliver us from our troubles, but also for God to see us fully. We wait for God to see us through the darkness, and to bestow the mercy that we trust God alone to give.

Woven together with this plea is a petition for instruction in following the right path (verses 4-5 and 8-10). While mercy is dependent on God and not on our own deserving, the Psalmist knows that such mercy is most often found by walking the way that God has provided within the covenant community (verses 10, 13-15).

With the Psalmist, as a community and as individuals, we pray, “See me, God, and show me that mercy and steadfast love for which I long, and which I can receive only from you.” Today, we cry the lament of Psalm 25, and wait for the salvation that we know is ours.[1]

Collect for Psalm 25: Lord our God, you show us your ways of compassion and love, and you spare sinners. Remember not our sins; relive our misery; satisfy the longing of your people; and fulfill all our hopes for eternal peace through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.[2]



[2] For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church © 1995 American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Monday, September 21, 2020

September 21 – Monday prior to Proper 21




Psalm 147:1-5, Antiphon, verse 6 – The Lord lifts up the humble He casts the wicked to the ground.” Those who acknowledge that they are without resources in and of themselves, the Lord lifts up while others who trust in themselves will be cast down. This is the definition of faith.

Psalm 147 is the second of five "Alleluia" hymns that close the Psalter. Each of the last five psalms starts and ends with the imperative, "Praise the Lord!" ( translated from the Greek word, alleluia). Together, these psalms put a final exclamation point on the book that the Jewish community calls, "Praises". In other words, the Psalter closes with an extended call to praise that is directed at the Psalter's audience.[1]

We tend to think of the purpose of singing in worship as something we do as part of our relationship with God, as something we do for God. But the direction of the call to praise at the end of the Psalter is a little different. We are enjoined here to come to worship, to learn the praise of God, and to go out into the world and sing these songs (these psalms) out there. And the praise that this psalm calls for has a specific content: it is testimony about God.

Psalm 147 is exclusively praise that is sung about God. The purpose of this type of praise is testimony. As Patrick Miller has written, "the purpose of praise [is] . . . to bear witness to all who hear that God is God.[2]

As you begin another week be it at work, school or home reflect on the mighty acts of the Lord and then live your life as a testimony concerning all the Lord has done. [3]

Collect for Psalm 147
God our Father, great builder of the heavenly Jerusalem, you know the number of the stars and call each of them by name. Heal hearts that are broken, gather those who have been scattered, and enrich us all from the plenitude of your eternal wisdom, Jesus Christ our Lord.
[4]


[1] See Beth Tanner, "Rethinking the Enterprise: What Must be Considered in Formulating a Theology of the Psalms," in Rolf Jacobson, ed., Soundings in the Theology of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011), 139-150.
[2] Interpreting the Psalms (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986), 68.
[4] For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church, © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Proper 21 Series A



Proper 21 "A"
 (25 Sept—1 Oct)
Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32
Philippians 2:1–4 (5–13) 14–18
Matthew 21:23–27 (28–32) 

The Cross of Christ Opens to Us the Way of Repentance to Life with God

The way of the Lord is righteous and just: “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). However, because the Lord has “no pleasure in the death of anyone.” (Ezekiel 18:32), He calls sinners to repentance and faith in His gracious forgiveness of sins. The man who is thus turned away from his wickedness, who henceforth lives by the grace of God, “shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:28). This way of repentance has been opened for us by the cross of Christ. In the righteousness of faith and love, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8), and He was vindicated in His resurrection from the dead. Indeed, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). He has given us this name in our Baptism into Christ, in whom we now “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). He uses the authority that He has received from His Father (Matthew 21:23–27) to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, by which even “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 21:31–32).


Christ’s Authority
Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege

By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)                                                                        

The priests had been authorized by God to lead and direct the matters of the Jewish temple.  The elders of the Jews were regarded as the authorized leaders of the Jewish community.  These two groups, which clearly had authority to perform their various religious tasks, now approach the man Jesus who the day before had authoritatively entered the temple and overturned the tables of money changers as well as the seats of the pigeon-sellers.  As they now approach Him the day after He “cleansed” the Temple He acts as though the temple belongs to Him, and in the Temple He now teaches with unequaled authority.

These authorized leaders now approach Jesus with the question, By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?  They ignore the fact that from His baptism onward Jesus had been conveying the source of His authority.  Many thus realized Him to be the Christ, the Son of God, and that from these two “positions” Jesus possessed authority never seen before. As the Christ, the Son of God, He had authority in and over the Temple.  But what had the Christ, the Son of God been given special authority to accomplish?  Was His authority only given so He would “clean up” the Temple both with His actions and with His teaching?

When He first cleansed the Temple at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus actually conveyed what He had been given authority to accomplish: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (Jn 2:19).  In this veiled statement He was describing His death and resurrection. Later, when Jesus spoke of Himself as the Good Shepherd, He specifically used the word “authority” to describe His central work:  I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father (John 10:17,18).  In this statement Jesus explains how He had been given the charge and the authority by His Father to lay His life down and then to take it up again.

Forty days after completing His authorized work to die and rise again, Jesus explains His omni-authority in His final “commission” spoken to His Apostles:  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Mt 28:19).  Truly after His resurrection, having entered His State of Exaltation, the man Jesus has been given the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee must bow. As a man He now fully uses the omni-authority He always possessed as the Son of God.

And what does this man with infinite authority do?  He uses this authority to institute Christian Baptism.  We should all the more appreciate and treasure what Baptism is, for Christ now identifies Baptism as primary in relation to what He has been authorized to accomplish and create.  Looking at what led up to Christ’s institution of Holy Baptism we should not be surprised at the importance of Christian Baptism, for John was authorized to baptize, performing this pre-sacrament as preparatory for Holy Baptism. And Christ’s very death and resurrection—the primary action Christ was authorized to perform—accomplishes salvation and this salvation is foundational to and miraculously conveyed in this wondrous washing. The Apostles’ writings explain much more about this Christ-empowered Sacrament. Indeed, as Jesus explains in this “Great Commission”, disciples are made through Holy Baptism.

Those who doubt the power and deep meaning in the Baptism performed by pastors may ask, By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?  Answer:  The omni-authority of the crucified and risen Christ has authorized these things to be so.

The Cross of Christ Opens to Us the Way of Repentance to Life with God

Collect for Proper 21 - Almighty God, You exalted Your Son to the place of all honor and authority. Enlighten our minds by Your Holy Spirit that, confessing Jesus as Lord, we may be led into all truth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 The Authority of Jesus Challenged


:23 Καὶ [a]ἐλθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ διδάσκοντι οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι τοῦ λαοῦ λέγοντες· Ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ ταῦτα ποιεῖς; καὶ τίς σοι ἔδωκεν τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην; 
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

-By what authority do you do "these things?" - Jesus had just entered Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple after P Sunday...This is Tuesday of Holy Week "Of what kind of authority?" they had previously accused him of demon possession...where does it come from and is it any good? 

:24 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Ἐρωτήσω ὑμᾶς κἀγὼ λόγον ἕνα, ὃν ἐὰν εἴπητέ μοι κἀγὼ ὑμῖν ἐρῶ ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ ταῦτα ποιῶ· 
Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.

-Which if you will tell me and also to you by what authority these things I do.  Remember, Jesus never answers a question in unbelief.

:25 τὸ βάπτισμα [b]τὸ Ἰωάννου πόθεν ἦν; ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἢ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων; οἱ δὲ διελογίζοντο [c]ἐν ἑαυτοῖς λέγοντες· Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν· Ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, ἐρεῖ ἡμῖν· Διὰ τί οὖν οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ;
The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’

The baptism of John, from whence was it heaven or man?  Why you not follow? 

:26  ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν· Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, φοβούμεθα τὸν ὄχλον, πάντες γὰρ [d]ὡς προφήτην ἔχουσιν τὸν Ἰωάννην.
But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 

:27 καὶ ἀποκριθέντες τῷ Ἰησοῦ εἶπαν· Οὐκ οἴδαμεν. ἔφη αὐτοῖς καὶ αὐτός· Οὐδὲ ἐγὼ λέγω ὑμῖν ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ ταῦτα ποιῶ.
So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

 -“if we say from man we fear the crowd for they hold John as a prophet...neither will I say to you.” They have the authority yet fear the left hand kingdom. They fear the crowd. To agree with John is to agree with Jesus, which, answers their own question. 

 The Parable of the Two Sons

:28 Τί δὲ ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; ἄνθρωπος εἶχεν τέκνα δύο. [e]προσελθὼν τῷ πρώτῳ εἶπεν· Τέκνον, ὕπαγε σήμερον ἐργάζου ἐν τῷ [f]ἀμπελῶνι. 
What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 

 - Child, today work in the vineyard but he replied I don't want to! But he repented, was sorry, changed his emotions, felt contrite. 

:29 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· [g]Οὐ θέλω· ὕστερον δὲ μεταμεληθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν.
      And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.

- Coming to the other he said " I go" but did not...

:30 προσελθὼν δὲ τῷ [i]δευτέρῳ εἶπεν ὡσαύτως· ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· [j]Ἐγώ, κύριε· καὶ οὐκ ἀπῆλθεν. 
And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.

 - Which of the two did the will of the Father. Jesus said tax collectors and porn stars will enter before you. Turn and believe in Him.

:31   τίς ἐκ τῶν δύο ἐποίησεν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός; [k]λέγουσιν· Ὁ [l]πρῶτος. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.
Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 

:32 ἦλθεν γὰρ [m]Ἰωάννης πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης, καὶ οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ· οἱ δὲ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐπίστευσαν αὐτῷ· ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰδόντες [n]οὐδὲ μετεμελήθητε ὕστερον τοῦ πιστεῦσαι αὐτῷ.
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

_________

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 —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.

B. 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.

C. He 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.

See “BOBO’s in Paradise” by David Brooks

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture quotations marked SBLGNT are from the The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software



Proper 20


Proper 20
Series A
Matthew 20:1-16
September 20, 2020
It’s Payday!

NOTE: On this date in 1838 [182 years ago]

FCD Wyneken arrived at our congregation for the very first time.

Father, You show Your almighty power in Your mercy and forgiveness. Continue to fill us with Your gifts of love. Help us to hurry toward the eternal life You promise and come to share in the joys of Your kingdom. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen [1]


When unemployment figures are released for the nation, the state, or the local community people take notice.  The goal is always to have zero unemployment. In America, most are happy with rates ranging between 5- 6% unemployment or less.  Unemployment means poverty, enforced idleness, increase in crime, welfare payments etc.

In the Father’s Kingdom there is not to be any unemployment.  The householder goes to the marketplace at different times of the day and asks, “Why do you stand here idle all the day? Come and work for Me!”

Every worker is interested in the wages for his work. Before he takes a job, he asks what the wages will be. If they are not adequate he may refuse to work.  What is the nature of God’s wages?  We know what the wages of sin is.  “The wages of sin is death.” Do we know the wages of the Father?

There is a cast system in our American culture. In five months, when our 8th graders will walk into area High Schools for the first time. They arrive for freshman orientation.  And already it will be predetermined those who will succeed. And those who will fail. There are those who will succeed in athletics and academics. There will be those who won’t.

And there will be some, those in the middle of the pack. They are neither privileged nor favored. 

These are the ones who, simply by hard work and sheer determination will succeed. And we will applaud their efforts.

Some get that lucky break that sets their career on a trajectory that only goes up. For others, the break does not come.    Some live a life of privilege. Others not. Some make it because they out work everyone else. The Lord’s economy is different.

When Jesus repeats Himself pay attention.  He never wastes words. He’s not taking up dead air space. He’s speaking an intense and powerful truth. Never shallow. Always sincere.  Jesus tells us, “Many who are first will be last and the last first.” He speaks these words with respect to Peter’s response.

Pious Peter. He speaks for Himself. He speaks for the twelve. He speaks for you. Peter reminds the Lord what he has done. He has sacrificed.   He’s gone without.  He’s given up, forgone and forfeited many things for Jesus’ sake. “See we have left everything and followed you Jesus. What then will we have?”[2]

Jesus’ parable is a reaction to Peter's question. "We’ve given up everything." “What's in it for us?” Peter asks. Jesus tells this parable because mercy is being challenged.

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard reminds us that the Father’s generosity is equal to all. When payment time came for the laborers in the vineyard, it was learned that each was to receive equal pay regardless of hours worked. The reward is the same in the kingdom. Whether you enter early or late the payment is the same. The thief on the cross receives the same reward as the faithful Christian who lives eighty plus years. Who are you to spurn the Father’s mercy?

1.      Payment is His decision, not ours to demand. “...and to those he said, 'You too go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And {so} they went.” Verse 4 (NAS)

The landlord asked the workers to go into the vineyard agreeing to pay the workers a pre- determined amount.

The Father’s pay scale contradicts our notion of rewards. The Pharisees, grumbled about Christ’s gracious offer to sinners. Even Peter thought he and the other disciples should have received more than those who had not left their homes, their families and jobs to follow the Savior.

Yet the Lord deals fairly with you. The Father is an equal opportunity employer. Whatever you give up you receive back a hundred -fold, and finally you receive eternal life.

Jesus said “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29

2.      The wages are uniform – everyone gets the same.  "And when those {hired} first came, they thought that they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius. Verse 10 (NAS)

The Lord has dealt fairly with you. No injustice has been done. You have received the agreed wage. He never promised to give you what you think you deserve for your efforts. Could it be that if you find yourself grumbling that it may reveal a loveless and unmerciful attitude? If this were so you are under Law instead of under grace more then you perhaps care to realize. If so, repent! Then receive the Lord’s mercy and His grace.

Yet, isn’t it wonderful that even those of us who worked only one hour also receiving a denarius?  There is a lesson to be learned here. The work itself is already a reward in and of itself! Just to be a Christian is a privilege. It is not a wearisome duty but a happy service, no matter how long the Father allows you to serve. There is no richer, fuller life than that of a disciple of Christ. The wage question in the kingdom need not trouble you. In the kingdom there is no unemployment, and the wage level is uniformly high.

The Father is generous to all —His grace.  His payment is not determined by wages or hours worked. The Lord is so generous that He gives the denarius of grace (salvation) to everyone regardless of length of service or quantity of work performed. He goes beyond justice to give His peace to all who come, whenever they come.

Jesus responds to Peter, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, [a] when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold[b] and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” [3]

3.      The wages are generous – The parable concludes: 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?' Verse 15 (NAS) So what does this all mean?

The Father lives up to His promise to pay. We might go back on our words and try to wiggle out of a commitment. Not so with your Savior. He has graciously promised that He will in no wise cast you aside. He went to the bloody cross on Good Friday to win for you salvation and life. There are literally hundreds of predictions in the Old Testament pointing to the cross. Jesus fulfilled them all and the payment for sin has been paid in full. The debt we owe has been paid.

The Father has a right to do what He pleases with His own. We are his workmanship. He is the one who deserves our praise. We are obligated to Him.

We are obligated to His Words and promises. He has the right to save and redeem those whom He pleases. This is why the landlord went back to the market place again – three times.

We should in no wise doubt that firmly believe then, that this gracious act of the Father is an indication of His good and gracious will toward us. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.

The Father is generous to all. From His vantage point His wages are more than generous. Because of whom we are and the wrong we have done, we rightfully should not get anything from Him. We should get nothing but condemnation. The Lord gives His grace to all regardless of how long or how well they worked for Him.

Ours is to have the joy and the privilege of being in the kingdom and working for our heavenly Father. We do not serve for wages. You can never obligate a person for doing well. Our only reward is simply being in the Father’s house; serving in Him kingdom and doing His good and gracious will.

4. Some Grumble — vv. 8-15 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'”

The housemaster is remembered for what he does. He hires workers. They don't apply.  These workers - they are of the same voice.  They all agree to work for a Denarius a day. It was a fair wage.

These workers are standing idle, doing nothing. Jesus uses the Greek word “argon[4] which means “lazy” or “inactive”. It’s the same word for the same chemical element, which undergoes almost no chemical reactions. Literally, the gas does nothing.  These workers are hired at the 3rd hour, around 9 am

The housemaster continues. “I will pay whatever is right.” According to His goodness. According to His mercy, Christ redeemed you. This is the root of justification. To work in the vineyard is to give meaning to your life.

The housemaster. He did the same at the 6th and 9th hour. At noon and at 3 pm. He hires more workers.

 “Why stand the whole day idle?”  This is the first time he speaks. Those first hired get what they bargained for the last receive grace!

They answer, “No one would have us.” These are the tax collectors and sinners. The rejects of this world.  These are the ones who the Master paid first although they worked less. 

They didn't barging for it. They receive mercy. As Jesus reminds the religious elite, “Most certainly I tell you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you!”  [5]

The housemaster speaks. “Now pay them starting with those hired last.” The last-minute workers receive a Denarius. These were the ones no one else wanted.

There is a sense of entitlement. Those hired first, they expected more. They were looking for justice instead of mercy.

“You make them equal to us,” they argue. We sweated, they didn't...Yet the Lord is no respecter of persons.

The housemaster answered one of them, “friend [6]...I did not injure you...take what is yours and go… It is My will to do as I wish. Generosity is the Master’s character...to grumble against the King is to speak against the king's mercy...it says give me what I deserve.

The housemaster’s final word is critical. There is no law...it is permissible for Me to do as I wish with what is Mine...or is your eye evil because I am good?

Jesus responds to Peter, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, [a] when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold[b] and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” [7]

The Christian faith is not The Kentucky Derby. There is no Win, Place or Show for those who out-prayed, out-witnessed, or out-tithed the others.

Grace is not a performance-based trophy but a God-given gift. The last do indeed receive a first-place prize. And the first receive a last-place prize.  And both prizes are the same: a gold crown placed upon their heads by the One who, for the joy set before Him, ran the race ahead of us all to win for us a trophy of grace delivered in love. [8]


Words –2,150
Passive Sentences –4 %
Readability – 79%
Reading Level -4.9 


[1] Opening Prayer for Sunday of the week of Pentecost 18, For All the Saints A Prayer Book For and by the Church Volume II The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau copyright © 1995 Delhi, NY
[2]Matthew 19: 27
[3]Matthew 19: 28-30
[4] Argon is a noble gas, the others being helium and neon.
[5]Matthew 21:31
[6] Same address as Judas
[7]Matthew 19: 28-30
[8] Fasebook post by Chad Bird 17 September 2014