This parable of the wicked tenants as it is sometimes called feels very rooted in its specific history so much so that even through the parables were told so that “hearing they might not hear” the Chief Priests discerned Jesus told this about them. It is the summaries, conclusions or maybe so far as application that open up the parable beyond the Jewish temple leadership. In my reading Jesus gives three separate summaries.
“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”
“The Kingdom of God will be taken away and given to those producing its fruit”
“The one who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces, the one the stone falls on will be crushed”
This sermon looks at each of those in progression and how the help us hear the parable for ourselves. The placing of the cornerstone is pure gospel. “God has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.” The second is the moral warning to watch. If you think the vineyard is yours to do with as you want, you might be killing the heir. The third thinks about our ultimate positions regarding God: ignoring such that we might trip over, set ourselves against him, or build on the cornerstone.
The work of God is always being displayed in our midst. It is up to us how we respond to it. God’s desired response is faith in his son. The life of Jesus is the demonstration, the work of God displayed, of the Goodness of the Father. Even in bad things, God is good. This sermon, through examining the story of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind, is a mediation on both the purposes of God and faith’s response.
This sermon took a form that I don’t often use, but it fell out of my prep work, three points and a poem. The standard sermon coming from this text is probably missions or something completely law based. My struggle this week was how not just to fall into the “get to work” vein. And the three points fell out, with the third speaking to my soul.
Point1: The foundation of the vineyard is the grace of God. “The Master of the House went out to hire laborers.” The first move is always God moving towards us.
Point2: The response of the workers is faith based on the character of the Master of the House. Can he make good on his promise?
Point3: The call to the Vineyard is the call to work besides God. We are invited into the life and work of god.
That third point is the crisis of grace and our understanding. Do we recognize the amazing nature of that offer, or do we just want our wage? Can we rejoice with the widow who finds her coin? Can we enter the party house for the prodigal, or have we lost the joy of the vineyard?
The Poem is simply Psalm 51 (often our offertory). Cast me not away from your presence, but restore unto me the joy of your salvation. We all occasionally find ourselves on the wrong side of the crisis of grace complaining about it radical equality. David’s words are our prayer. Let us recognize who we work with and the joy of that call.
The question of suffering is one of the constant ones of modernity. The curmudgeon in me wants to draw a graph showing interest is the problem of suffering going straight up over time and actual suffering has gone down over the same time, but a smart person once told me that “yes, suffering may be comparatively less, but it is still mine.”
The disciples ask a question that is full of assumptions about how God and the moral calculus works. Jesus’ answer bears directly on suffering, and gets to the heart of the gospel. The moral calculus doesn’t balance. At least not how we think. This sermon attempts to examine that fact in the light of Jesus who says “I am the light of the World”.
I’m not going to add more other than say give it a listen.
Worship note: I left out the hymns primarily because the sermon and Gospel lesson are longer than normal and I try to keep the total recording time around 25 mins or less.