A Study for Proper 22
September 28 – October 03, 2020
The Vineyard of God’s People
In the Lessons for this week, we look at evil confidences, which cannot stand under the light of God’s Holy Law. God’s people constitute a vineyard. The Gospel and Old Testament lessons complement each other in the use of a vineyard as a metaphor for God’s people. In both, the vineyard is at fault; in the Gospel, the tenants refuse to render fruit; in the Old Testament, the fruit is wild. In the Epistle lesson, the wild fruit are those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” and serve as an example of the right kind of fruit Christians produce. Because God’s vineyard is His people, He has the right to ask for proper returns from the vineyard. Both the Old Testament lesson and the Gospel pronounce judgment upon the vineyard for failing to produce the fruit of acknowledging Christ as Lord and the fruit of justice.
Collects for Proper 22 – Gracious God, You gave Your Son into the hands of sinful men, who killed Him. Forgive us when we reject Your unfailing love, and grant us the fullness of Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever.
O God, whose almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity, grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be partakers of Your heavenly treasures.
A prayer before we study the Word – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help, our labor is useless, and without Your light, our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.
Monday, September 28, 2002 – Psalm 118:22-24 - Antiphon, verse 1:“O Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.” – This is a call to praise the Lord. David offers a song of thanksgiving for deliverance and victory. The people rejoice over what the Lord has done. Thereafter, the king speaks his final word of praise (see verse 28). We praise and exalt the Lord because He is mighty to save. This is why He is good – His mercy, His steadfast love endures forever.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020 – Psalm 80:7-19 – This week’s Psalm has as the key verse, verse 7. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is Israel, and the men of Judah are the plant He cherished (Isaiah 5:7). After making a lament over the Lord’s severe punishment of His people the Psalmist looks to the Lord who will vindicate His own as He restores and makes His face shine upon them that they might be saved.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020– Isaiah 5:1-7 God’s people receive judgment for evil fruit. Confidence in violence and bloodshed leads to judgment. In the Old Testament reading, God’s judgment upon His people is shown for their failure to produce proper fruit. The prophet sings a love song to God regarding God’s vineyard, his people. God is his “beloved.” God loves His people. Proof of this love is that God’s vineyard, His possession, is His people. Out of love, God accepts and owns His people. And look what God has done for His people! He has placed a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug the ground, cleared away the stones, and planted it with the best vines. Then He built a watchtower and a wine vat. God is love and He deals lovingly with His people: claiming them as His own, and providing for them by giving them the best of everything to be fruitful.
Thursday, October 01, 2020 – Philippians 3:4b-14 – God’s people strive to be examples worthy of Christ. Confidence in the flesh cannot stand. Forgetting the past, Paul presses on toward the goal of Christ and lives as an example for others. Paul defends himself as a Christian of the first order through the mercies of God. Yet, he does not think he has it “made,” but keeps striving for complete devotion to Christ by becoming one in the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ. Because he imitates Christ, he is able to ask his people to imitate him in both faith and life.
Though we are in the world, we belong to the kingdom of heaven. When Christ returns, He will transform our earthly bodies to spiritual bodies.
Paul uses this phrase “I press on” twice in this passage. It must have been important to him in getting across his plan. He is not idly waiting for perfection to come to him. He is not neutral. He is urgent, pursuing, and energetic in getting to his goal. To become like Christ is a process over a lifetime — ever striving to be like Christ in every area of life. At the same time, Paul would say that God was in him pressing on, working in him. A Christian dare not be content with his life. He is ever seeking to improve it.
Friday, October 02, 2020 – Matthew 21:33-46 – God’s people refuse to return God His due. Confidence in one’s own faith will fail. This is another parable of the kingdom. It is an allegorized parable. The vineyard is Israel. The tenants are the religious leaders. The servants are the prophets. The son is Jesus. The murder was the cross. Jesus is saying that time after time God has sought to redeem his people through the prophets, but each effort was in vain. In desperation, He sent His Son whom they crucified. This is in accord with the psalmist who says the rejected stone became the cornerstone. The outcome of it is that the religious leaders of Israel will lose the kingdom, which will be given to those who produce the fruit of righteousness. Because of their rejection of Christ, the Jews lost, but the Gentiles gained the kingdom.
The owner has a right to receive fruit from the tenants. People owe something to God. Time after time God comes for His due until finally He makes the ultimate appeal in His Son, Jesus. Rebellious tenants kill the Son in hope of taking over the vineyard. Here can be seen the patience of God, trying repeatedly to get the tenants to respond; here can also be seen the greed of people.
Saturday, October 03, 2020 –Matthew 25:1-13 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn, “Rejoice, Rejoice Believers.” The believer rejoices only in Christ. The days are getting shorter, soon the harvest will commence. We pray for the safety of all who work to bring food to our table. We also anticipate a harvest of souls.
As God’s vineyard will be harvested at the end of days so look to Christ the lord of the harvest, the one in whom the believer rejoices.
Morning Prayer readings for the coming week:
Monday, Sept. 28 Joseph reveals himself
Tuesday, Sept. 29 Jacob in Egypt
Wednesday, Sept.30 Chapel
Thursday, Oct. 01 .Birth of Moses
Friday, Oct.02 Call of Moses
Catechism Review: The Close of the Commandments
A brief explanation of our image for this week. The artist remarks,"The Master sends servants to gather fruit. One is beaten; another killed. Christ indicates in Matthew 5:12 that this was the fate of the prophets and could be ours, too. On the left, under the blazing sun, a prophet of old holds a scroll of The Word and is beaten. On the right, under a conspicuous crescent moon, one of the faithful is martyred at the edge of a scimitar. I don’t think I could be more visually-pointed. Chaff burns outside the vineyard, and flames lick at the heals of the wicked.
Outside of the vineyard, too, the Savior hangs on a cursed tree, but its base crushes death and Satan. Blood and Water issue from the side of the Savior and into the vineyard. His blood pours into a winepress that the Master dug, which, in turn, fills a Chalice. Water from the Lord’s side pours into an eight-sided well, into which a tomb has been dug. The tomb was used, but is now empty.
Christ is the vine and we are the branches [John 15:5], and the faithful follow the Lord’s example by working in the vineyard. Here Christ is pruning vines [John 15:2]; there He is grafting in new plants [Romans 11]; yet again He is outside urging more workers into the vineyard [Matthew 20]. This narrative view was a common device in sacred art when capturing a single moment in time would not suffice.
As was often the case of Renaissance sacred art, some of the workers may be recognizable. Martin Luther works beside LCMS President, Rev. Dr. Harrison. Outside, Luther, Katharina von Bora Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and J.S. Bach are summoned by Christ and the Kingdom’s work. Lastly and least of all, I tag along.
The gate to which we head is decidedly small. I mistakenly drew it that way, but left it, believing that Someone else was guiding my hand. Christ is the narrow gate; He is the Alpha and Omega; He is the capstone; He is the cornerstone. Christ is all.
This vision of the Kingdom is appropriate for such an anniversary. It reminds us of the work that has been handed to us by the Master of the House – work that not only needs to be done during this landmark year, but every year henceforth."
Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 2006
Lutheran Worship Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 1980 pg. 83
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH pg. 253
"The Kingdom of God is like a Vineyard" copyright © Ed Rojas Higher Things