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Text: Luke 20:9-20
Owners of the Vineyard!
Vicar Kyle Krueger

In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“The scribes and 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.”

This was no empty threat from the scribes and the chief priests.  The next time Jesus would enter the temple would be from the fulfillment of this cunning and wicked scheming by these religious authorities.  The next appearance of Jesus in the temple would be under guard being tried by the Sanhedrin.  They would from there send him to Pilate, and thus the creed goes, “He was crucified under Pontius Pilate”.  This parable marks the beginning of the end for Jesus’ Journey to the cross.  The wheels are set into motion as Jesus sends a warning shot across the scribes and chief priests bow.

 

Text: Luke 20:9-20
Owners of the Vineyard!
Vicar Kyle Krueger

In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“The scribes and 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.”

This was no empty threat from the scribes and the chief priests.  The next time Jesus would enter the temple would be from the fulfillment of this cunning and wicked scheming by these religious authorities.  The next appearance of Jesus in the temple would be under guard being tried by the Sanhedrin.  They would from there send him to Pilate, and thus the creed goes, “He was crucified under Pontius Pilate”.  This parable marks the beginning of the end for Jesus’ Journey to the cross.  The wheels are set into motion as Jesus sends a warning shot across the scribes and chief priests bow.

If you have ever or are leasing a car or an apartment the lease agreement makes you well aware that the piece of property is not yours.  You may use it, but you will pay the owner for the duration of time it is in your possession.  A lease implies that there is a certain end date to your use of the property.  The tenants in our parable understood these facts full well.  They knew that the only way to keep what was not rightly theirs was to intimidate the vineyard owner until he left well enough alone.  The property would then become theirs not by means of genuine ownership or a gifting by the vineyard owner but by corrupt and deathly means.

Luke’s account shows us that this Parable’s meaning was not lost on the Scribes or the chief priests.  The text says, “For they perceived that He had told this parable against them…”  The tenants where the wicked religious leaders; the vineyard was Israel, it was God’s Kingdom, His chosen people.  When the Parable talks about the vineyard owner going into another country for a long while, it does not mean that God was absent from His people.  His journey was not a lack of communication but a loving period of time that He had sent Prophets to change the wicked people’s ways.  The long journey is to show how merciful God was on Israel as they rejected prophet after prophet He sent to them.  The parable is to show that God did not foreclose on the property early or unfairly in anyway, but rather gave more and more time for repentance then would have been considered reasonable. 

God as the owner of the vineyard sends three servants to the tenants and all three times they are rejected, with physical assaults to boot.  God does not just send three prophets to Israel, but thousands.  The Jewish leadership at times included of lying deceitful men not seeking to preach God’s Word to the people, but to gain social, political and financial power due to their positions.  The people of Israel tortured and butchered the prophets silencing their clear message of repentance and faith.  They turned even to false god’s.  Yet God kept sending prophets giving much time for the leaders and people to turn from their ways.   

Finally, the parable speaks of the vineyard owner sending his very son, the one who would have the inheritance of the vineyard.  The tenants kill him making it so there would be no son to collect the property.  God sent His son into the world taking on the appearance of a servant, to yet again bring a word from the Father, but He is treated with no respect and is put to the most shameful death of all, death on a cross.  The ironic part is the tenants and thus the Jewish authorities take by force the very thing that the Son of God came to give, His inheritance.  The religious tyrants feared so much of losing there position and authority that they would do anything to keep it.

The parable is clearly Israel’s history with God’s prophets and the parable begins to take on a prophetic character as Jesus tells of His death by the way of the scribes and the chief priests.  God has been more then fair with His people.  The judgment and destruction of the vineyard is not the result of God’s love having conditions or end, but it is in sin blocking the ears of the tenants and thus forever hardening their hearts to the word of the servants and son. 

The parable points back to Jesus as He is weeping upon entering Jerusalem because they did not know the time of His visitation.  It was no secret that the scriptures, the prophets, and most recently for Israel, John the Baptist spoke of the coming of Jesus, the messiah.  Still they reject Him.  God would have had every right to wipe Israel off the map, but he is patient still continuing into Jerusalem to His bloody rejection on Calvary.

This parable can be interpreted and applied quite clearly to us today.  The vineyard can also stand for the church on earth today.  We may not kill prophets, but we can let them collect dust on the shelf successfully silencing their words.  We don’t need to bring bodily harm or death to someone to stop God’s messengers.  All we need to do to avoid God’s Words is to stay home Sunday morning, let the Bible sit unused week after week.  

The parable of the wicked tenants clearly depicts us as sinners who reject the Word of God at every opportunity and wish to take by force what is not rightly ours.  It displays that God is a God of great patience, a God who does not rush to judgment because He enjoys being wrathful.  God has every reason to simply annihilate us. 

"Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him" The Christian's life is not perfect in this world.  We fall and we break; we are broken into a state of contrition. Through the crushing of the Law we are brought to deep sorrow over our sins.  We are led to repentance and faith as we hear the forgiving words of Christ.  The preaching of the Law is necessary, it prepares us to hear the preaching of the Gospel, which announces to us that our sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake.

The rejected stone becoming the cornerstone shows to us that all is not lost.  We have a savior who suffered unfounded rejection for us.  Christ’s death and resurrection does not simply make us even with God, but He gives us more then we need- the vineyard is ours!   The greatest Gospel truth in this parable is that we are the others that have been given the vineyard.  God freely gives us His inheritance.  God’s heir, His Son Jesus becomes ours by faith- He is the object of that faith.  We are not tenants, but owners of what God has to offer.  We by virtue of our baptisms are given everything that God has to offer.  He holds nothing back.  Jesus’ rejection is the means by which He becomes the cornerstone.  It is the means by which we become co-heirs in His Kingdom.  We are not tenants renting the property out, but the inheritance is given to us, we can call it our own!

Christ’s visitation in the flesh was well marked by the prophets that God sent.  He has marked His visitation to His church still today.  The phrase, “means of Grace” is not merely a catch phrase that Lutherans use, but it is the central understanding that God comes to humanity over and over and over again wishing to give life giving faith, to give the inheritance of heaven to us.  Christ is the cornerstone that establishes the gifting of our inheritance of God!    

In Jesus name. Amen.