The Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 22A)
October 5, 2008
St. John Lutheran Church
Rev. Wade R. Mattsfield
With ideas borrowed from Norman Nagel, Kenneth Bailey and Francis Rossow
\Matthew 21:33-46 ~ 33 [Jesus said] "Hear another parable. A man was a house master, who planted a vineyard and set up a fence around it and dug a wine press in it and erected a watchtower and rented it to some Georges. 34 But when the time of the fruit was near, He sent His slaves toward the Georges to receive His fruit. 35 And the Georges, taking His slaves, on the one hand, beat one, and on the other, killed one, and eon they stoned. 36 Again, He send other slaves, more than the first, and they did the same. 37 And last He sent to them His Son, saying, "They will be shamed with my Son. 38 But the Georges, seeing the Son, aid among themselves, "This is the heir! Come, let us kill Him and let us have His inheritance. 39 Taking him, they threw Him out of the vineyard and killed. 40 And so, whenever the master of the vineyard would come, what will He do to those Georges?" 41 They said to Him, "Bad badly He will destroy them and He will rent the vineyard to other Georges, who will give back to Him the fruit in their time." 42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scripture, 'The stone which the builder rejected, this became the head cornerstone. This happened from the Lord and it is a wonder in our eyes.' Because of this I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and it will be given to Gentiles doing the fruit of it. 44 And the one falling upon the stone, this one will be broken to pieces. The one upon whom it would fall, it will crush him. 45 And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parable, they knew that He spoke concerning them. 46 But when they sought to seize Him, they feared the crowds, because they held Him a prophet.
Goal: That the hearers trust more fully in God dealing with sin by sending His Son to die for them.
In Nomine Jesu
Introduction: How does God deal with sin?
A. The Bible is clear on what God thinks of sin.
1. He hates it, since it is contrary to His will – contrary to what it good and right
2. it brings out His anger and wrath.
B. And it is easy to see how we act when others sin against us.
1. How do we act when we are angry – when someone has legitimately wronged us.
2. If possible, do we make sure those wretches pay for what they’ve done/
3. Are we bent on getting justice?
4. And we dare not expose ourselves to being burned a second time.
C. That’s how we deal with sin, and sometimes, we expect God to act the same way.
I. His Old Testament people had constantly fallen into sin.
A. Time and time again, they had gone their own way.
1. It doesn’t take much time reading the history of God’s people to figure that out.
a. In the time of Moses, they continually grumbled against God.
b. In the time of the judges, they struggled with the temptation to follow the false god of their neighbors.
c. And when their Kings were ruling over them, they gave into that temptation all together.
2. And so, God had sent His prophets.
a. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Ezekiel – there were a lot of them through the ages.
b. They all pointed out the sins God’s people were involved in.
c. And they had come to call God’s people to repentance.
B. But so often, the people did not listen.
1. Some prophets, they ignored, others, they ridiculed.
2. And they even tried to kill some.
B. And so, God gave them a powerful warning from the prophet Isaish.
1. Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard:
a. My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.
i. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines.
ii. He built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it and he looked for it to yield grapes.
b. But it yielded wild grapes.
i. Now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard.
ii. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured.
iii. I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
2. This vineyard was Israel.
a. They had not produced the fruit God expected of them.
b. They would not repent of their sin.
3. And so, God would indeed break them in their sin.
a. They would be destroyed by foreign armies and dragged into exile.
b. But they would survive as a remnant and God would later restore to them what they had lost.
c. And they had learned their lesson.
i. They finally repented of worshipping false gods like Baal.
ii. They would try to remain committed to God and keeping His Laws.
II. Or so they thought.
A. God’s people still struggled with sin.
1. They thought they kept the Law – and maybe the leaders did outwardly.
a. But they missed the truth that sin was a matter of the heart – its what’s inside of us that makes us sinners.
b. They were so focused on the outward that they missed the sin inside.
c. And seeing their supposed righteousness, they saw no need to repent – and resented anyone who told them otherwise.
2. And so, the Time had come.
a. God sent another prophet – in the style of old.
i. John the Baptist came preaching repentance – and he met the same resistance all the others did.
ii. He was even put to death.
iii. But he was no ordinary prophet, for he was sent to prepare the way for the one God had promised all along.
b. Then came the Son.
B. And yet, God’s people still did not want to listen.
1. The leaders were jealous of the crowds that followed Jesus.
a. They were upset that He had overturned everything and was preaching forgiveness to sinners.
b. Worst of all, He dared call them to repent and come to Him for forgiveness.
2. Jesus knew what they were thinking and knew what they wanted to do, and yet
III. Jesus begins with another vineyard.
A. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard.
1. Jesus shows us the loving-care the master had for the vineyard as He put a fence around it.
a. He dug winepress in it so that
b. He even built a tower to keep guard and protect His vineyard.
2. But then, He did something strange.
a. He leased it to tenants.
i. This is crazy.
ii. After putting this type of work in, no land owner would lend out such a prized property.
b. And then, He left it all behind and went into another country.
i. For some strange reason, he seems to rely on the honor system.
ii. He expected, out of gratitude and honor, the tenant would give him his fair share.
B. We shouldn’t be that surprised at what He faces next.
1. When the time of the harvest arrived, he sent his slaves to collect his share.
a. “Not bloody likely” is how the tenants respond.
b. The tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.
2. Now here’s where Jesus story gets interesting.
a. In Isaiah’s parable, the Lord promises to destroy the vineyard.
b. One would expect the vineyard master in this parable to send armed men to bring these people to justice.
c. But no, in His patience and compassion, this land-owner sends servants again, and they face the same fate.
IV. As incredible as it was for the landowner to send a second batch of slaves, there is the one thing that more surprising in this parable.
A. After having his slaves treated in a horrible way, the master of the vineyard sends his son.
1. This vineyard owner should have gone at the head of an army and used force to put an end to the violence.
a. But instead, He sent His son, alone and unarmed, saying, “They will respect my son.”
b. Now, I want to make a little note on this word translated as “respect.”
i. What is going on here is deeper and more profound than the question of respect.
ii. The Son goes in complete vulnerability so that the renters might see the shame of their behavior and repent.
iii. The master turns His anger into grace.
2. And yet, the tenants respond in the way they always had.
a. They took the son captive.
b. And throwing Him out of the vineyard, they killed him, hoping to keep the property as their own.
c. And Jesus closes the parable by asking, “When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?
3. How does God deal with sin?
B. God deals with sin in a way that we would never think.
1. We would expect exactly what the crowds expected.
a. “He will put those wretches to a miserable death.”
b. Justice is what we would think is called for.
2. God, turning His anger into mercy, deals with sin by sending His Son.
a. Making Himself completely vulnerable, the Son of God became one of us and came to us.
i. By His humility, He put us to shame, highlighting our pride and our sin.
ii. But more than that, He paid for our sin.
b. You see, He was thrown out of the city, condemned by the governor and rejected by the people who shouted “Crucify Him!”
i. He was made to carry His cross, stumbling and struggling, having already been beaten and treated shamefully.
ii. And there, on an ugly hill outside the city walls, He was crucified and He died.
3. Jesus is the stone that the builders rejected.
a. And yet, marvel of all marvels He has become the cornerstone.
i. He bore all the righteous anger God had against us and put an end to it all.
ii. He paid the price that all our sins would be forgiven – washed away once and for all.
iii. Because He has given His life, we are heirs of God’s Kingdom.
b. This truth will crush some.
i. It will crush those who are too stubborn to see their own sin.
ii. But those who long for forgiveness, He breaks into pieces so that they may be rebuilt and forgiven.
V. This is how Jesus deals with our sin.
A. He may break us from time to time
1. He still sends us His Law.
a. He still shows us our sin in His Word.
b. And that Word calls us to repent.
2. When we stumble over that Law, we are indeed broken into pieces.
B. But He comes to us to remake us.
1. He gives us His Word of forgiveness.
2. He has made us His own in Baptism.
3. He feeds us with His very body and blood.