Saturday, October 3, 2020

Proper 22


Matthew 21: 33-46

04 October 2020

A Vineyard for Rent

Lord Jesus, You have endured the doubts and foolish questions of every generation. Forgive us for trying to be judge over You, and grant us the confident faith to acknowledge you as Lord.

It’s possible to rent an amazing variety of things; from housing to automobiles, from furniture to farm land, from carpet cleaning machines to apartments and cottages on a lake. Today we see that the LORD too has a rental arrangement.

For centuries the sign has been out. It reads, “VINEYARD FOR RENT.” Our question for today is what sort of tenants are we.

I.       The terms of the agreement are specified.

A.    As in any rental situation, we realize that there needs to be terms spelled out in the form of a rental contract if there is going to be any safeguards to the tenant and the owner. The Lord Himself as a master gardener (vinedresser) has placed the vineyard in excellent condition. This generous proprietor planted the vineyard Himself. He put a wall around it. He dug a winepress, He built a tower. He brought it all up to code. He’s a stickler for details.

From the beginning the Lord has given us the means and the resources for us to come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1.      The Lord did so for Israel. Isaiah uses the same imagery.  Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it.” Vv.1-2 The Lord cared for His people in the Old Testament and today He continues to nurture us through the good news of the Gospel.

2.      Through the Gospel the Lord gathers and preserves His people. In the message of salvation which is found in sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior. You are not only brought to faith. You are also marked and preserved as God’s very special people.

B.         There is a tenant agreement. The Lord rents out His vineyard expecting fruit. Yet He supplies you with the tools necessary to produce a crop.      

The message of Lord’s presence is woven throughout the Scriptures. “Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, delivered the message of the LORD to the people, “I am with you,” declares the LORD.” –Haggai 1:13) So also, David proclaimed, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” – Psalm 46:11

This promise is repeated by Jesus when gave us His word, “I am with you always!” – Matthew 28:20) As He has promised to remain with you He calls you to work in His vineyard. The Lord “rents out” His vineyard by giving it to you; supplying you with faith and strengthens you.

And this faith which you have is not yours alone.  The LORD Himself is the One who has worked saving faith in you.  This Paul declares, “For by the grace give me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but thing of yourself with sober judgment according to the measure of faith God has given you.” – Romans 12:3

C.         In any rental agreement, there are terms of payment. The rent check is to come in on time at the same time, every time it is due. The landlord expects to be paid. The LORD expects to be paid. God expects His rent. What does He demand as far as payment is concerned?

1.      He demands that the fruit of faith be demonstrated in our life. St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians lists the fruit of faith which include; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control” (Galatians 5:22)

2.      Because of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit bearing fruit is not a chore. Rather it is a spontaneous outpouring which is the response to the benefits which God has worked in you.

Transition: The terms of the rental agreement have been spelled out. However this is not to say that difficulties may occur.

II.    The difficulties encountered.

From time to time there can be problems when there are renters. The payment might be late or become delinquent. A tenant can say to himself “this isn’t my property; I am free from any responsibilities. I don’t have to take care of this dump!  Careless delinquent tenants can wreak havoc on a property. Even in the LORD’s vineyard.

A.    Even the LORD Himself had difficulties with His renters.

1.       Renters of the Old Testament, the previous tenants killed the prophets which came delivering the message of the LORD’s mercy and grace. And it got considerably worse. “And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another and stoned another. He sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them.”

2.      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 have his inheritance. And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” –Vv.37-38

B.     The problem with delinquent tenants can still exist today.

1.      The LORD can still have difficulties with His renters. How? When we fail to see God’s mission to the world. When we fail to share with others the message of salvation which Christ has offered. If we do this be become delinquent and careless tenants. 

2.      We can become guilty of failing to hold up our end of the renter’s contract when we fail to love. As the LORD has forgiven “70 times 7”; yet we, in turn, refuse to forgive others when they sin against us.

As Christ has shown His compassion we in turn extend mercy to others. Refusing to deal with others on the same terms as the LORD has dealt with us results in our failing our part of the rental contract. When we fail to love. When we are slow to forgive. If we are quick to forgive yet slow to forget we can become delinquent and careless tenants.

III. The Action of God.

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 the LORD.

A.    The LORD shows patience.

1.      When a prophet was killed the LORD kept on sending other prophets and servants. What a remarkable contrast to what most would have done under similar circumstances. But again, here is the patience of the LORD demonstrates.

2.      The LORD went so far as to send His only Son. Through Christ’s death He atoned for the tenant’s selfishness. Here we see the great lengths the LORD went to show His love and patience.

3.      The LORD continues to demonstrate His patience for us. He is still giving us time to bring forth fruit of faith. He continues to love and seek our love.   He continues to provide us those means which we need to receive His mercy and care.

B.         The kingdom of God will be taken away from you,” Jesus says to them. This is not so much a punishment for failing to produce kingdom fruits. It is, rather, the recognition of what already is. They were given the vineyard and failed to produce and share the fruits of the kingdom. Jesus is just naming the reality, the truth.

They have excluded themselves. In the same way, the kingdom of God will be given to those who are already producing kingdom fruits. This is not a reward but a recognition of what already is. Where the fruit is, there also is the kingdom.

If you want to know what the fruits of the kingdom look like then look at the life of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Not abstract ideas but the life lived to its fullest by a Savior who loves you. Look to the One who exchanges His life for yours.

We’ve all been given vineyards. They are the people, relationships, circumstances and events of our lives that the LORD has entrusted to our care. That means our spouse and marriage, children and family, our work, our church, our daily decisions and choices, our hopes, dreams, and concerns are the vineyards in which we are to reveal the presence and life of God, to produce the fruits of the kingdom. The vineyards, our work in those vineyards, and the fruit produced come together to show us to be sharers in God’s kingdom.[1]

What a privilege it is to be a tenant in the LORD’s vineyard. What an honor it is to bring Him the fruit of faith with joy. My the Lord so move us to be good tenants until that time in which we move out of that rented ground into a new home, one which has been purchased by the same Landlord we are renting from now – Jesus Christ the righteous one.


Words -1,560

Passive Sentences -10%

Readability -78%

Reading Level -5.4

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