18th Sunday after Pentecost 04/10/2020

Sermon- Two Images: Vineyard and Cornerstone!  Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany, Office of International Mission, LCMS, 10/4/20- Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, *IN NOMINE JESU*

Matthew 21:33-46

The Parable of the Tenants

33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 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 marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Gospel reading for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost contains two strong images which Jesus uses to help us again to understand the Kingdom of God, and also what God requires of His people.  The images used are of a vineyard field where the people of God are to produce fruit for their Lord, and the second picture in our text is that of a stone, rejected by the builders, which has become the foundational stone upon which our lives are based.

Our Lord brings these two images together at the end of our Gospel reading when He says that God’s people willproduce fruit, and also that the stone, which is Christ, is unavoidable.  This stone will either break us or crush us… and I will explain how Christ as Cornerstone does this when I get to it in today’s message.

So, let’s start with the first image… the vineyard.  The Parable of the Vineyard is a picture of Israel’s history.  Over and over, God sent His prophets to call His people to produce fruit from our Lord’s own vineyard.  And when you think of the “fruit” that our Lord requires, think of… repentance of sin, 

Asher/ p.2

renewed faith, and love for God.  These are things that are due our Lord because He is our life and our salvation.

But in the long story of Israel’s history, God’s people routinely chased after other gods… these are worthless idols that led them to wicked practices.  The people also served their own sinful desires-

  • Contemptible pride
  • Sexual immorality
  • Greed
  • Cruel injustice
  • And the list of their sin is extensive

And in rebellion to their God, the Israelites would not listen to His prophets or His warnings.

And Jesus’ parable illustrates this.  The Master of the house, who planted the vineyard, who put a fence around it, who dug a winepress and built a tower, who owned everything, He kept sending His servants to receive His fruit.  But in the same way that Israel treated her prophets, the tenants beat, killed and even stoned to death the Master’s servants.

So in mercy, because the Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they should turn from sin and live (Ezekiel 18:23), …the Master sent more servants.  But they were treated in the same way.  So in the Parable’s astonishing story, we learn that the Master, Who is God, would send His own Son!  This is the height, the zenith of mercy.  It is unheard of that the Lord would send His own Son to known murderers and thieves… but He does in the hope that they will turn from sin and do what is required.  And our Lord’s logic is in verse 37-

They will respect My Son.

But we know the history of Israel.   And we know what happened to Jesus, the Son.  Christ was rejected.  He was nailed to a cross.  And Jesus paid for the sin of the world with His death and resurrection.

Today in our world, many still refuse to respect the Son.  To so many in unbelief, He is a joke or a beggar, or an inconsequential figure who doesn’t deserve a second thought.  And they will not believe in Jesus.  Further, they will not give our Savior the fruit which is required- repentance of sin, faith in Christ, and love for God.

But now, I’m going to take a different track in our understanding of this parable.  Rather than all of us pointing an accusing finger at all who reject faith in Christ, let’s bring Jesus’ parable home to us.

We all believe in Jesus.  We all love our God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  As Christians, we are all recipients of the Kingdom of God which is pictured today as our Lord’s vineyard.  And now, after giving us everything- our life, our Savior, and every blessing, the Lord is calling us, you and me, to produce fruit.  And the question we must answer is: Will we respond to God with fruit from our lives.

The fruit that God requires is repentance.  This is sorrow over sin, with the result that in the Lord’s power we determine to TURN from sin.  The fruit that God requires is renewed faith in Christ, which is the desire to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.  The fruit that God requires is love for God, which is having no other gods before Him.  As Christians, we must recognize that our heavenly Father has ownership of our lives, and all that we have, and all that we are.  And because our God graciously loves us and sent His Son to save us, we owe Him everything.

Our time, our talent, and our treasure are all His.  May God help us to righteously respond to His call for fruit from our lives.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, the imagery shifts from a vineyard to a stone.  It’s a cornerstone which the builders rejected, but which God has made the cornerstone of His kingdom.

When this text is read, I’m almost always asked about verse 44.  Please look at this with me.

44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 

We know the Stone is Christ.  We just sang the hymn “Christ is our Cornerstone,” and He is.  So what does it mean that if we fall on Him, we will be…   

broken to pieces

Those who fall on the stone, and this is Jesus and the Gospel message, and those who hear the Good News, that we are forgiven by Christ at the cross, these “broken to pieces” people are Christians who have been convicted of sin, and they repent, turning from sin, and they trust in Jesus as their Savior.  To fall on the stone is a good thing! Because in Christ our sinful pride and self-sufficiency is broken, and in faith we look to the only One, Jesus, Who can save us.

But to have the Stone fall on you with crushing force, this is a bad thing, because it really is a picture of God’s coming judgement.  

So the question this Gospel reading presents is this: What will we do with this Cornerstone… Jesus our Lord?!

In the Holy Spirit’s power, in humility and faith, we receive Jesus as Lord.  And in our lives we produce the fruit that He requires-

  • Repentance
  • Faith
  • And love for God

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  +Sola Deo Gloria+

Prayers for Pentecost 18- KELC- 10/4/20

Blessed heavenly Father, help us understand that our lives must respond to Your call for fruit in our lives.  By You Holy Spirit’s power, lead us to repentance of our sin and give us Your strength so that we can turn from sin to live completely for You.  We also pray that You help us love our Savior with renewed vigor, so that all that we do may honor Him.  And finally, make us to be a people Who love you with heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Lord in Your mercy………………………………………….. Hear our prayer.

Gracious Lord, we rejoice in the many children who attend our church.  We are reminded from Your Word that all who look to You for mercy need to have a childlike faith.  We pray for a special blessing on our children.  Keep them in Your care.  Instill in them a desire to know more about Jesus.  And as they enter Your Church, give to them and ALL of us a joy in the understanding that we are in Your presence.

Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………… Hear our prayer

Lord God of hosts, stretch forth Your almighty arm to strengthen and protect those who serve in the armed forces of our country.  Support them in times of war and peace, and keep them from all evil, giving them courage and loyalty to do all things that are just and right.  

Lord in Your mercy……………………………………………. HEAR OUR PRAYER

Finally, Lord, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care.  For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, lonely,  and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…


Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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