SEPTEMBER 27, 2020
TIME AFTER PENTECOST
Grace and Gloria Dei Lutheran Churches
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Gods’ blessings on you all, today and all days!
We could call this Summer ‘The Summer of Parables’. We have listened to and thought about many of the Parables that Jesus Christ used to teach the people of God.
Jesus has been in Jerusalem challenging the actions of the Priests. His actions in the Temple of throwing out the sellers and the money changers from the outer courts occur in Mathew Chapter 21: vs 12 & 13 and begins his last attempt to clean the temple and show the High Priests that he is the Messiah.
Last week in Matthew, Chapter 20: vs 1-16, Jesus told about a Land owner who paid his workers the same wage even though they had worked different hours. Jesus replies to complaints from those that worked all day saying it was not fair. Jesus used those famous words “The last shall be first and the first shall be last”
Today, Jesus and the chief priests are having a discussion. The priests are trying to discredit Jesus by asking him’ Who said you could come to the temple and claim the right to preach here, but Jesus turns the question back on to them by asking if the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist was from Heaven (meaning from God) or from man. The priests would not answer because to answer that the baptism was from man would make the crowds mad as many people believed that John the Baptist was a Prophet from God, but if the Priests answered heaven, it would justify Jesus Christ’s standing as a prophet and his claim to be the Son of God.
So what did they answer? “We don’t know”. What a way to back out of trouble. You see, The Priests were like the second son in today’s Gospel who said “Yes I will go.” but then did not listen to his father and did not work. Jesus is accusing the Priests of sticking to their own interpretation of the Bible which has taken them
away from the ways of God. They are not listening to Jesus the Son of God but are trying to discredit Him.
In thinking about all the parables and Jesus’ words: “The last shall be first and the first shall be last” I would like to try looking at today’s parable and think about the overall plan that God has made for us.
The Son that said “NO” did repent and went to work in the vineyard. We are told that those who hear and believe and repent will get to heaven first. That is an interesting idea as Jesus doesn’t say that no one else will go but that there is a time for all to reach heaven. But the new math of God’s kingdom defies earthly logic. It defies the law and causation. It is a new math—kind of like the math of imaginary or unreal math in which √-1 = i. It teaches us that God does not keep score, God’s forgiveness and grace will not conform to any formula, and new life and resurrection actually do come from death and the grave.
Consider a few of Jesus’ parables. God’s kingdom can be seen or comes near to us when…
· Someone leaves everything and follows Jesus
· Someone sells everything in order to buy a field with a hidden treasure
· A merchant sells everything to buy one pearl of great value
· Someone forgives their neighbor not seven times, but seven times seventy times (7 x 70f = kingdom; where f=forgiveness)
· A king forgives the debt of a subject who owes him 10,000 talents
· A shepherd leaves 99 sheep to go in search of one who is lost
· A mighty multitude is fed from just 2-½ fish sandwiches (and there were leftovers!)
· A landowner trusts his stewards to invest one, five, and ten talents
· A farmer scatters seed on both the good & bad ground, which bears fruit
· A woman adds a little yeast to three hunks of dough—and they all rise
· A single mustard seed grows into the greatest shrub of all
· An about-to-be-fired bookkeeper fudges the books, reducing the debts of key contacts in hopes that they will treat him well once he is fired
Once you start to “figure” the math in Jesus’ parables, you start to realize it doesn’t make much sense. At least not from the perspective of the old math (that is, the math that actually balances the books and works out evenly).
And that, of course, is Jesus’ point.
The old math of the kingdom of this world is a math of causes and effects, of keeping score, and making someone pay. According to the old math, you only have to forgive your neighbor a couple of times—like maybe seven times. After that, hold a grudge and don’t get fooled again. According to the old math—the math that works for us on Earth—says those who are righteous will be blessed and those who are sinners will be cursed. According to the old math, we humans think that our own sins can only be forgiven if they are minor—not if they are major. According to the old math, selling everything to follow a crucified Lord doesn’t make any sense—especially when that crucified Lord says that the reward for costly following will just be more suffering. According to the old math, it makes no sense to leave 99 sheep in the wilderness to go after one lost sheep—better to write the one sheep off on your taxes and take the 99 to market; you’ll still make a profit.
The old math is all about the law. It is about how this world works. How in the world can we rationalize Jesus’ math. We can’t! We just have to go with the flow and believe in Jesus’ teachings.
In 2000, the band Sister Hazel had a hit with a song called “Change Your Mind.” I don’t know that the song has any overtly religious intent, but it speaks in a real way to the challenge of Jesus’ parable:
1)Did you ever think there might be another way to just feel better, just feel better about today?
2) If you never want to have to turn and go away you might feel better, might feel better if you stay.
3) I bet you haven’t heard a word I’ve said. If you’ve had enough of the state of mind you’re in: Just give up of all you’re tryin’.
4) If you want to be somebody else, if you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself. If you want to be somebody else, change your mind…and believe.
Jesus’ question, and the answer he points us to in the parable of the two sons, pushes us to the point of reflection and decision. Which will we be? Which can we be? Will we change our mind-set and believe and join Jesus in his work?
And All of God’s People Say…Amen!
GRACE: Neva Schmid, Dean Walmsley
GLORIA DEI: Wayne Fraass, Ernie Kahrs, Ron Michelman, Pat Rufenacht, Charlie Frerichs, Barb Namuth, Deann Larson, Joan Holly, Roger Mashek, Richard Bruns, Della Weber, Diana Fetters, Jeanette Dean, Kimberly Valla Martinez, Marv Bartling, Anthony Ramirez
BLESSING: And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and + give you peace. Amen.