null

Lent 5 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
April 7, 2019
Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:8-14, Luke 20:9-20

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

God is foolish.  That is the lesson we have gotten lately from Jesus’ parables in our readings from Luke.  In last week’s Gospel reading we see the utter foolishness of God depicted with the father in the parable of the prodigal son.  The father should never have given his greedy son half of his property.  When the son comes home the father should be smart about things and be careful about slowly bringing this wasteful son back into the family.  But the father isn’t smart; instead the father has a foolish love for his son.  The father’s love overwhelms what we think is right and normal and he pours out his forgiveness and love onto his son.  We learn that God is so foolish and reckless with His forgiveness and love that He freely gives it to people who don’t deserve it.

This week we see the same kind of foolishness in His patience as the owner of the vineyard.  A man planted a vineyard and then hired some tenant vinedressers to care for it.  Later, the owner sends a servant to the tenants of his vineyard to get some of the fruit.  This is normal behavior for the owner of a vineyard.  But the tenants do not react to the messenger servant as they should.  Instead of giving him some of the fruit, the tenants beat the servant and send him away with nothing.  Apparently the tenants do not understand who owns the vineyard.  When the abused servant returns to his master, the vineyard owner should immediately go with the authorities to the vineyard and have the tenants evicted and arrested.  But the vineyard owner does not do the smart thing.  Instead he sends another servant and another and the same thing happens.  This is the height of foolishness.  He keeps trying the same thing expecting different results.  The owner of the vineyard doesn’t care about being smart or efficient.  He cares about the vineyard.  He is patient and wants to help the tenants to do the right thing.

But after sending three servants and having all three come back ill-treated the vineyard owner is going to wise up, right?  Wrong.  After three servants get abused by these tenants who have forgotten who owns the vineyard, the owner sends his Son.  And now the tenants get very confused in their selfishness.  They think they that if they kill the owner’s son then they the vineyard will indeed be all theirs.

This parable teaches us that the Lord is patient with the children of Israel and the religious leaders.  He sends prophet after prophet to warn them and call them to faithfulness.  Then He sends His son.

The Lord is patient.  The Lord is patient with you and me.  The Lord does not destroy you at your first failing, or your second, or your third.  The Lord warns you over and over again.  The Lord gives you His law and He sends you his representatives to warn you; parents, grandparents, caring friends, siblings, faithful teachers and pastors to warn you to turn away from the devil, turn away from the world, turn away from your own sinful flesh, and turn back to God.  God is patient and God loves you with a foolish love.  God the Father even sends His Son to die for you; to pay the price for your sin.

            The chief priest and the scribes and the elders realize Jesus is telling the parable about them and their leadership of the Jewish people.  They respond, “Surely not!”  They understand the message.  Jesus has just told them they will be destroyed and there will be new religious leaders.

The tenants were supposed to take care of the vineyard for the owner, but instead they thought the vineyard belonged to them.  They abused the servants and killed the owner’s beloved son.  After telling this parable, Jesus asks the chief priests and the scribes and the elders, Luke 20:15 (ESV)  15 …What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?[1]

The answer is easy and Jesus tells them.  Luke 20:16 (ESV)  16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” [2]

The chief priest and the scribes and the elders realize Jesus is telling the parable about them and their leadership of the Jewish people.  They respond, “Surely not!”  They understand the message.  Jesus has just told them they will be destroyed and there will be new religious leaders.

Jesus continues the warning.  What Luke 20:17-18 (ESV) 17 … [Jesus] looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “ ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” [3]

Jesus is the true cornerstone for the Kingdom of God, but when the religious leaders look at Jesus they don’t see anything special.  He is not powerful.  He is not a great warrior.  He is not particularly good looking.  He is just some strange, homeless preacher from a nowhere town in the backwaters of Galilee who can do some sleight of hand magic tricks to get people to follow Him.  He isn’t worried about money.  He isn’t worried about attracting women.  He is a nothing.  Jesus is a nobody.  They are looking for the perfect rock to be the cornerstone and this nothing nobody is certainly not what they are looking for.  This strange teacher is not the new foundation.  So they reject Jesus.

So Jesus warns them with words from Psalm 118.  “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”  The word here for cornerstone can also be translated as head of the corner or capstone.  Jesus may be using this as a play on words that he is both the foundation of the church and the capstone.  Luke 20:18 (ESV) 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” [4]

This is a stern warning to the Jewish religious leaders.  God is patient but judgment will come on evil in the end.  Jesus tells them, “You are going to be destroyed because you have forgotten who owns the vineyard.  You are supposed to be caring for God’s children, but you abuse them for your own benefit.  You have rejected the foundation stone of the Church and because of that you will be broken to pieces.  You have rejected the capstone of the Church and because of that you will be crushed.”

God has foolish patience for a time, but watch out when His patience runs out. Romans 2:4-5 (ESV) 4 …do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.[5]

This is a warning to the Jewish leaders in Jesus day and also to the church leaders today.  Remember whose vineyard it is.  When pastors get together we like to ask each other, “Where is your church?  How big is your church?  What is happening at your church?”  What is wrong with each of these questions?  It is not my church.  It is the Lord’s church.  Pastors don’t own the church.  Pastors are God’s servants to the church; tenant farmers in the Lord’s vineyard.

The people don’t own the church.  We may say, “Immanuel is my church.”  And what we mean I am a part of Immanuel; and that is not bad.  But we need to remember that all of us are tenants working in the master’s vineyard for the benefit of each other; the children of God.  The church is not ours to do with as we please; it is the Lord’s church.  It is the Body of Christ.  Jesus is the solid rock foundation on which we build and Jesus is the capstone that completes the church.  Jesus is the beginning and the end; He is the Alpha and the Omega.  Remember who owns the church.

God is patient and kind.  God’s love for you is a foolish love; it is a reckless love.  He loves you so much he sent His Son as the final sacrificial Lamb to take away the sin of the world; to take away your sin.  God’s love for you is so foolish that He keeps forgiving and loving you when you do not deserve it.  But do not abuse God’s patience.  Live in the foolish love of Jesus.  Lose your selfishness and sin in God’s foolish love.   Live in His His church where you are blessed to be and give thanks that God is foolish in love for you.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s