Sermon for Lent 5 – 4.3.22

+ 5th Sunday in Lent – April 3rd, 2022 +

Series C: Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:4-14; Luke 20:9-20

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Some of Jesus’ parables are simple, other are complex, but many others, have shocking turns and twists of the plot – remember last week’s parable where the father graciously runs to his lost son.

 

Today we hear another parable, the parable of the wicked tenants. Jesus intention with this parable is clear. Israel is the vineyard. The people are the tenants. The servants that received repeated beatings are God’s prophets. Finally, God the vineyard planter sends his Son, Jesus. And Jesus knows what happens next. He knows the Pharisees are plotting to kill him. So he tells this parable.

 

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

 

Jesus’ warning is clear. Don’t reject the Beloved Son as the religious leaders of Israel were about to do to Jesus during Holy Week. Fall upon Christ the Cornerstone in repentance, not rebellion. Don’t lose the vineyard.

 

Jesus delivers the same message to us as well. It’s the message of Lent, and the Christian life: repent. And this message is for all. For pastors, it’s a reminder of what God calls us to do. We’re not land-owners in the Church, but tenants. Servants of the Word and stewards of the mysteries of God.

 

And Jesus warns us as a congregation too. What kind of tenants are we to be in the vineyard? Are we a country club, where, like the Pharisees, we pat ourselves on the back and bask in God’s favor? No, we’re an outpost and oasis of Christ’s mercy and grace for all. We’re called to be a safe haven in the stormy world around us. And so, the goods news of Christ crucified and risen for you is the center of all we say and do. We live like Israel of old – by mercy, not by merit.

 

Jesus’ parable also calls us to live in humbly. We’re tenants, not owners. Everything we have is a gift. And yet, we’ve been wicked, violent tenants. We imagine that we’re the owners. “It’s my money and I can spend it as I please.” “It’s my body and I can do what I want with it.” “It’s my time to use it however I wish.” “It’s my life and I don’t need God or the Church or anyone to tell me how to live it.” “I can worship God in my own way on my own time.”

 

Yes, Jesus tells this parable for us too. That we would fall upon Christ the Cornerstone in repentance, not rebellion. Our place in the vineyard can be lost too. That’s the warning.

 

But that’s not all that’s going on in this parable. Yes, there’s warning and judgment. But above that, and greater than God’s judgment is his mercy. Once again, this parable reveals Christ’s shocking forgiveness. Even after the tenants beat, shame, and wound his servants, the Lord of the vineyard still sends his Beloved Son.

 

What’s truly shocking in this parable isn’t the perversity of the tenants but the patience of the Owner; not their evil, but his good. This parable reveals the heart of God—the God of second, third, and, fourth chances and even more: 70 x 7. For God isn’t a Lord of commerce but a Father of compassion.

 

The Lord of the vineyard sees things completely different from us and the Pharisees.

 

“What shall I do? I will send my beloved son.” What a marvelous picture of God’s patient, relentless mercy. What sort of father would send his beloved son to a lot of murderous deadbeat tenants? What would you do? I know what I’d do!

But…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

Jesus is that beloved son in the parable, cast out of the vineyard. But he who was cast out brings you back in, alive with him. He is not ashamed to call you brother, sister, and heir of his kingdom.

 

That’s why he came. Not to die for those who have perfect lives, but for those whose lives are full of one failure after another. He came to die not for the clean, but for the dirty. And his blood washes away even the filthiest of stains embedded in your soul. He came to seek and find and rescue those who hide in the darkness of their doubt and unbelief, to find you no matter where you are, to give you hope in place of despair, faith instead of doubt.

 

While we were still His enemies, cut off from God, turned against Him in rebellion, the Father sent His Son into the world, to take on our humanity, to become one with us, to save the very world that rejected him. This is who God is. Merciful. Gracious. Loving. He keeps coming back again and again, hounding you with mercy, seeking the fruit of repentance and faith, risking everything to save you. This is God’s way of forgiveness. He keeps no record of how many chances he’s given you. For in the end, it’s not about how many times you’ve messed up, but how constant, how unwavering, this Father’s love is for you in Christ.

 

That’s what Lent is all about, God’s gifts of repentance, redemption in Jesus, and rejoicing in Christ the Beloved Son who goes to die for you, to be rejected for you, to be buried and raised for you. The Son who brings his life-blood and his holy body for you to eat and drink as faithful tenants. The Son who invites you to live in his vineyard and rejoice.

 

That’s what the Pharisees missed. Instead of rejoicing in the Cornerstone, they rejected him. Instead of falling upon Christ, broken in repentance, they were crushed in judgment.

 

And the same rock that breaks our sin, has broken our chains and set you free. Jesus stands under the rock of judgment for you and lets all the weight of God’s wrath fall upon him so that you might have his inheritance.

 

It’s a shocking parable for sure. But it’s true. The Lord of the vineyard sent his beloved Son for you. And in Jesus you are true heirs. You are faithful tenants. You bear good fruit: the fruit of rejoicing in the Lord’s promises. The fruit of repentance and forgiveness of sins. The fruit of reckless, relentless compassion. And that’s something I am sure your friends and neighbors will find just as shocking, and joyful as well.

 

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977