Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

That's What He Said, Parable of a Land Owner

October 05, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 4 Episode 18
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, Parable of a Land Owner
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, Parable of a Land Owner
Oct 05, 2020 Season 4 Episode 18
Pastor Dave Tucker

Jesus understood his mission. Jesus knew that he would be the final sacrifice. It is important for us to understand that Jesus did not come to start a new movement. He understood his mission as a demonstration to God’s chosen people the love of the Father. Jesus understood his mission to be a redemptive work. Jesus came to redeem God’s chosen people from the yoke of sin and oppression by those more interested in power and control than in love and grace. Jesus also understood that his mission would eventually get him killed.

Based on Matthew 21:33-46
Originally preached October 4, 2020 
at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Show Notes Transcript

Jesus understood his mission. Jesus knew that he would be the final sacrifice. It is important for us to understand that Jesus did not come to start a new movement. He understood his mission as a demonstration to God’s chosen people the love of the Father. Jesus understood his mission to be a redemptive work. Jesus came to redeem God’s chosen people from the yoke of sin and oppression by those more interested in power and control than in love and grace. Jesus also understood that his mission would eventually get him killed.

Based on Matthew 21:33-46
Originally preached October 4, 2020 
at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church

That’s What He Said, Parable of a Land Owner
Matt. 21:33-46

Today we begin a new sermon series, “That’s What He Said.” This series will take us right up to the Advent season. Now I don’t want to alarm anyone here today, but we are only 7 weeks away from the Advent season! Anyway, We are going to be studying the red letters of the bible… also known as the words of Jesus. The purpose of this series is to discover what it means to be “Red Letter Christians!” Some of Jesus’ teachings may be a bit of a challenge for us… Today’s teaching is one of those challenging lessons. I humbly ask that you not shoot the messenger! These are not my words! It’s What He Said! Please join me as we pray that the Holy Spirit join us this morning and illuminate today’s lesson. And may we pray that the Holy Spirit softens our hearts to receive these words of Jesus.

[Prayer for illumination]

“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ So, they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

         Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

         ‘The stone that the builders rejected

                  has become the cornerstone;

         this was the Lord’s doing,

                  and it is amazing in our eyes’?

Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

There is so much to unpack in this parable that I could literally spend an entire sermon series on just this parable. In the interest of time, however, I have chosen one point for us to explore this morning. It is a point that I believe is vitally relevant to us today and what we are currently going through individual members of God’s Church. 

Before we can explore the implications of this parable of Jesus, we must first start with a bit of a key to the meanings of the different elements of the story. It’s like having a decoder ring… only better! The land owner is God. The vineyard represents God’s chosen people. The tenants represent the religious leaders… those responsible for the care of God’s people. The slaves or servants sent to collect the produce are God’s prophets. The son who was finally sent and killed represents Jesus himself. 

With this key in place, let us once again look at the passage. God, chose a people, and made covenant with them and planted them in God’s vineyard. God put a fence around the chosen people with a guard tower to protect them from outside evils. God wanted to assure that no evil that could come in and snatch God’s people away. This protection from outside evil forces is an important part to this parable. So, place a mental bookmark here as we will be coming back to it. God then placed God’s chosen people in the care of tenants… religious leaders. These religious leaders were put in place to groom, prune, edify, protect, and instruct God’s chosen people. It was the desire of the land owner, God, that these leaders would love God’s people as much as God loved them. Unfortunately, this did not happen. The religious leaders were more concerned about their power over the people, than they were in the care of these chosen people. They loved only themselves.

So, God sent God’s servants, the prophets, to reclaim what was rightfully God’s. Feeling threatened by these prophets, the religious leaders beat and killed those who were sent to reclaim God’s chosen people. These religious leaders were more concerned with maintaining their power over the Chosen people of God than they were in loving those people. The prophets upset the apple cart and were dealt with accordingly. 

Then, in the parable, Jesus talks about himself… Jesus understood his mission. Jesus knew that he would be the final sacrifice. It is important for us to understand that Jesus did not come to start a new movement. He understood his mission to demonstrate to God’s chosen people the love of the Father. Jesus understood his mission to be a redemptive work. Jesus came to redeem God’s chosen people from the yoke of sin and oppression by those more interested in power and control than in love and grace. Jesus also understood that his mission would eventually get him killed. This, he was willing to do to redeem and restore God’s people.

As Jesus was telling this parable, he stopped and gave the audience an opportunity to respond. No doubt, a lot of those listening to this parable were religious leaders. Jesus asked a direct question, “Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” Those who were listening to Jesus’ story, including the religious leaders responded, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” Jesus’ response is classic Jesus. “Have you never read in the scriptures:

         ‘The stone that the builders rejected

                  has become the cornerstone;

         this was the Lord’s doing,

                  and it is amazing in our eyes’?

Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God WILL be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” Suddenly the religious leaders were like, “WAIT A MINUTE….” They realized that Jesus was talking about them. They were the evil tenants, and they just implicated themselves by their response to Jesus to kill the evil tenants and give the vineyard to new tenants who would turn over the fruit. The problem, in Jesus’ mind wasn’t the evil on the outside trying to get in, the problem was the evil that existed on the inside of the walls. These religious leaders became angry and were ready to arrest Jesus right then and there. Yet scripture tells us that they were afraid of the people who saw Jesus as a prophet.

         So, what about us now? Does this parable apply to us today? (step down to the communion table) On this world wide communion day… a day where Christians around the world celebrate at the Lord’s table on the same day, I wonder how we get in the way of God’s people discovering grace and the gospel truth of a loving God. We, as Cumberland Presbyterians, talk about how this table is open to all, but the way we sometimes treat others often tells a different story. We look at people who believe differently than we do politically and theologically. We have othered people because of the color of their skin, their gender, and their sexuality. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. We don’t have to understand others to love them. And I get it, some people are more difficult to love than others. But the directive from God is the same. Love the Lord your GOD with your very being, and love your NEIGHBOR as you love YOURSELF. As I stand at this table, it is important for all of us to realize, including myself, that we are all sinners saved under the same umbrella of grace. 

Jesus came to this earth to show us God’s love, His death shows us how far God was willing to go to demonstrate that love for us. As we partake of the elements may we meditate on that love. May we allow ourselves to be awash with it! May we understand that God’s love is for all!

Let us pray: 

We come to this table, O God, with thanksgiving. We lift up our hearts, we remember, we pray. We hear Jesus’ welcome-- inviting, forgiving; We know your Spirit’s peace as we feast here today. We dine at your table as sisters and brothers, Diverse in our cultures, yet nourished as one. The bread and the cup that we share here with others Are gifts uniting all who are claimed by your Son. Bless the elements that we are about to partake of. God, we grieve for your world here; we cry, “How much longer?” We pray for the cycles of violence to cease. Yet here, in Christ broken, we’re fed and made stronger To labor in his name for a world filled with peace. We rise from this table with new dedication To feed the world’s children, to free the oppressed, To clear out the minefields, to care for creation; We pray, O God of peace, that our work will be blest. For we pray this in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray: 

Our father who art in heaven…