Taking Stock of the Gift of the Vineyard


Biblical Text: Luke 20:9-19 (Hebrews 6:4-6)
Full Sermon Draft

There are some passages of scripture that are so resonate in the original time frame you wonder exactly how they apply to the people of God. The parable of the vineyard is one of those. The text itself even points at its being told against the Pharisees, Scribes the and the Priests. The entire parable also seems to be a synopsis of salvation history. How do Christians of today legitimately read and apply this parable? Is it possible or is it just something of historical interest?

I don’t think this is only of historical interest. If it was, why would it have made holy scripture? That is what Josephus and Eusebius are for. What this sermon does is take to core problem of the law in the parable and apply it to Christians today. The core problem in the parable is the unwillingness of the farmers, those who maintain the vineyard, to take the Word of the prophets and eventually the Son seriously.

There is a difference between the original farmers and the new ones. The original farmers leased the vineyard. They were bound by the law (a contract). But when the son came and died, and the vineyard was cleansed of the murderers, the new farmers were “given” the vineyard. Our place in the kingdom is not longer by a legal arrangement, but now it is by grace.

We are still sent the word. In the preaching and teaching of the church, in the scriptures, in the sacraments. In the parable words, we are still sent prophets. We are still expected to produce fruit. Not by contract law, but free offering. But the problem is that we neglect and abuse those prophets (word and sacrament) to the point that we might even kill the son. That is where the Hebrews verse comes in. I think to legitimately apply the parable today we are dealing with the 3rd commandment and Luther’s explanation. Do we gladly receive preaching and the word, or do we despise it and avoid it? For someone in the vineyard, the second is a very dangerous choice.