The Fifth Sunday in Lent (C)
“So with His Servants, So with His Son”
April 7, 2019
Sermon Text: Luke 20:9–20
Peace be unto you from the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
Look what is before us this morning… the perfect text and perfect timing… and this of no surprise in that our Lord does all things well… all things perfectly.
As we observe the Fifth Sunday in Lent, we know that time is growing short and our Lord’s Passion looms in the not too distant future. So, in preparation of the same… in preparation of Him going to the cross for you, me and all the world, He shares this parable.
What a most amazing one it is for in short order Christ here summarizes all of history, the entire time from the fall of mankind in the garden to His entering Jerusalem, there to suffer and die for us.
“A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants” (Luke 20:9)
The man is the Lord God Almighty, the vineyard is this earth and we and all mankind are the tenants… from Adam and Eve down to the present day.
We do not own the land. It is not ours, but God’s who graciously gives it to us to live upon and to tend. It is ours to enjoy including what will hopefully be abundant fruit which the Lord would have us produce,
And so it has been that, throughout time, God has sent His representatives, His servants, to receive from the tenants some of this fruit.
You heard what happened to them. “When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out.” (Luke 20:10-12)
Indeed, such is what the prophets experienced… one, right after another at the hands of our forefathers… the hands of those who went on before us… hands that did the bidding of hearts that were selfish and self-centered.
Make no mistake as to the nature of the fruit they refused to yield… to bear… for we are not talking about physical fruit, but spiritual fruit. It is the fruit of faith… the fruit of love… shown first and foremost to the Lord our God, He who owns the vineyard… as well as our love for our fellow man… our fellow tenants.
We have the Old Testament before us… from Genesis to Malachi. And the question is, the Lord would like to know what prophet… what called servant of the Most High was not treated shamefully… not beaten down, wounded, cast out, sent away empty handed?
It was each and every one of them in one way or another. Oh, how this was an indictment against the children of Israel… something which its leaders, were furious over. We read,
“The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.” (Luke 20:19-20)
They watched for the opportune time to do exactly what our Lord predicted… what He prophesied they would do… to Him… the very Son of God… the Son of the Owner of the vineyard. They would, in short order, seize Him… throw Him out of the vineyard… and kill Him.
Indeed, as our Lord shares in this parable… Jerusalem is in the not too distant future and a cross awaits.
It is interesting that Christ follows this parable up by asking the Jewish leaders, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? And before they can answer He tells them what will happen, saying that the Owner “He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”
It is clear that the Jews knew this was in reference to them… that destruction was awaiting them to which they said “Surely not!”
But the answer is “Surely yes.” And this to all who fail to live and abide by the will of the owner of the vineyard… the very will of God. This to all who mistreat His called servants… to all who reject His only begotten Son.
And it is here that Jesus reminds the Jewish leaders of what is written in the Psalms… in Psalm 118, verse 22. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
Christ is our “cornerstone” … the key stone on which the Holy Christian Church is built… that which is… that which houses all the faithful.
It is the stone that builders… the Jews… rejected. They rejected Christ our cornerstone. Each of them and so many after them… so many men and women to this day… in our day… have tripped over this stone… fallen over and onto this stone.
And our Lord makes it very clear regarding the outcome of the same. “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” (Luke 20:18)
Sobering words still to this day. They were sobering then when our Lord first said them and also infuriating. We read, “The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.” (Luke 20:19-20)
As we know, they will succeed. Sinful men will get their way, never realizing that all of this plays perfectly into the Lord’s way… into His perfect plan of salvation.
Indeed, the Lord God in His infinite wisdom knew that “so with His servants, so with His Son” … what the wicked will do… and how the Lord will turn it into the highest good for His people.
Oh, how we marvel at this. And we will do much more than that as next Sunday we again follow our Lord into Jerusalem. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“So with His Servants, So with His Son” 4/7/19 The Rev. Mark H Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL.