Whose expectations get met?

Full Text of Sermon

The text is Matthew 21:33-46 which is the parable of the wicked tenants. I’ve pondered this parable for a long time – at least in American terms. It is filled with an urgency and a venom missing is the mustard seed and birds of the air. It has an easy allegory, but one that seems tailor made to produce pharisees. There are parts of it that to a Lutheran are shockingly troublesome. The production and handing over of “fruits” reads like works-righteousness. And the whole “leasing” of the vineyard reducing the Kingdom to a financial transaction. It doesn’t fit my nice and tidy systematic theology. And if we accept the easy allegory the church has placed on the parable almost from the start, does it mean anything to us today? Not much that I could see.

So for me here the key isn’t so much allegorical as centered in the Question of Jesus – “What will the landowner do when he returns?” Everybody has expectations. Some expectations get met and others go bust. The thought for the Christian life is to get your expectations in line with God’s. The landowners expectations get met. The only question is by whom. A cornerstone has been set. The vineyard will produce a crop. Do we fall over that cornerstone attempting to meet our expectations against the landowner, or do we produce the fruit in season viewing the vineyard and its cornerstone in the cross as marvelous?