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The Fifth Sunday in Lent

April 7, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Lent

Passage: Luke 20:9–20:20

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 20:9-20
Date: April 7th, 2019; Fifth Sunday in Lent; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • [Jesus] began to tell the people this parable, “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while.”
  • Tenant farming was common in this day - the owner of the land would have it prepared and the tenants would tend to it, harvest the fruit, and give the owner an agreed upon amount.
  • A pretty simple arrangement.
  • But in Jesus’ parable - what should have been simple became complicated. 
  • The tenants staged a revolt.
  • When the time came, the owner sent a servant to the tenants to collect his rightful portion of the fruit of the vineyard.
  • What should have been a straightforward transaction turned into a mess - the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed.
  • Most owners would have become furious, evicted the tenants, and taken legal action.
  • But the owner in Jesus’ parable is patient.
  • He sent another servant hoping that they could get things squared away peacefully.
  • But they also beat him and treated him shamefully.
  • In another incredible display of patience, the owner in Jesus’ parable sent yet a third servant to try and make things right.
  • But this one also the tenants wounded and cast out. 
  • At a loss the owner asked, “What shall I do?”
  • He decided, “I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.”
  • The owner was dead wrong about this.
  • The tenants didn’t respect the owner’s son - they killed him.
  • “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?” Jesus asked.
  • And then he provides the answer to his question, “He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”
  • The owner will execute his judgement.
  • The son is the end of the line in this parable - the owner’s patience ran out and his son was his last word.
  • Reject the owner’s son and there is nothing but judgement.
  • Unpacking this parable is a bit less difficult than most - the “vineyard” is Israel, God’s chosen people.
  • The scribes and the chief priests (the religious leaders) are the tenants who abused what God had given them to look after, namely God’s salvation for the world.
  • Instead, they set aside God’s Word for their own laws and traditions - turning God’s mercy into merit, grace into wages, faith into works.
  • The servants in the parable represent the prophets who were sent to Israel to call them to repentance and to prophecy about the promised Messiah.  
  • Like the tenants, Israel treated God’s servants, his prophets - brutally.   In fact, it was worse in real like as some were even put to death.
  • Jesus told this parable directly to the religious leaders of Israel who were plotting behind his back to kill him. 
  • He knew what was in their hearts.
  • And the religious leaders perceived that Jesus had told this parable against them - they understood the implications of what Jesus was saying. 
  • The stewardship of God’s grace would be taken away from the blood descendants of Abraham and given to others.
  • Jesus spoke this parable during holy week, on his way to the cross to die for the world.
  • Israel’s Messiah, the promised One born out of Israel - was rejected by Israel’s own religious leaders and they made sure he was put to death.
  • It’s easy to judge the religious elite who rejected Jesus and had him put to death.
  • But really, it’s our sin that caused our Lord to be rejected and to be put to death.
  • Your sin killed Jesus.  My sin killed Jesus.
  • Not the scribes, not the Pharisees, not the Romans - our sin killed Jesus.
  • Our Father wouldn’t have had to send his Son to be rejected and to suffer and die if we did fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
  • But often we fear, love, and trust in the things of this world instead of God. 
  • God wouldn’t have had to send his Son to be rejected and to suffer and die if we did love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
  • But often we allow our greed and self-centredness to get the best of us and we treat our neighbours as obstacles or as means for getting what we want.
  • With the tenants in the parable, we too deserve to be destroyed - eternally.
  • Yet, in an act of unimaginable love and mercy and grace, our Father in Heaven still sent his Son to save us anyway.
  • The Son who was sent by the Father to be rejected, beaten, spit-on, and nailed to a cross to die - has become the cornerstone of our salvation.
  • Our Father sent his Son to endure this suffering and death to save us from the suffering and death that we deserve. 
  • God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
  • And our Father still sends his Son into our lives today.
  • Through his living Word, God sends us all that Jesus accomplished by dying and rising to save the world.
  • God’s Word shows us our sin and the Holy Spirit brings us to repentance.
  • God’s Word shows us our Saviour and the Holy Spirit gives us faith that receives the salvation Jesus won for us. 
  • Our heavenly Father still sends his Son into our lives today.
  • He sent Jesus to you in your baptism - where he robed you in his righteousness.
  • In the blessed waters of your baptism you were washed in the blood of the Lamb and the guilt of your sin was removed.
  • And your baptism is a present reality.
  • Those who are married don’t say, “I was married” – they say, “I am married.” 
  • So it is with your baptism. You don’t say you were baptized – you are baptized!
  • You live in that love and grace and mercy continually today and every day of your life!
  • Our Father still sends his Son into our lives today.
  • He sends Jesus to you in the Sacrament of the Altar.
  • In the Lord’s Supper, with his body and blood, Jesus is sent to you with his love, forgiveness, mercy, and life.
  • Dear friends, don’t be deceived by the apparent weakness of Jesus sent into this world – by his rejection, by his crucifixion. 
  • Don’t be deceived by the seeming weakness of the Word, the Sacraments, the church. 
  • God’s power lies hidden under weakness, a glorious hidden strength that is perfected in weakness. 
  • The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone of our salvation.
  • In the end, his rejection means your acceptance before God. 
  • His weakness is your strength. 
  • His death is your life. 
  • His inheritance of everlasting life is yours.  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Lent

April 19, 2019

Good Friday

April 18, 2019

Maundy Thursday

March 31, 2019

Fourth Sunday in Lent