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10/8/17 Sermon

Sermon for October 8, 2017 18th Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 21:33-46

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the LORD Jesus Christ.  Amen

The world is like a man who planted a vineyard and then leased it out to tenants. Christ goes on to point out; the people began to act irresponsibly. They began to act like the vineyard was theirs and refused to give the owner his due.   An example of creation trying to wrestle itself away from its Creator.

The Beatles of the '60s and '70s, boasted, "We're more popular than God!"  
A chaplain on a mental health unit of a large hospital walked in and immediately met a man with his hand in his coat who claimed to be Napoleon.                                                                   

"Who told you, you are Napoleon?" the visitor inquired.                                                                         

"Well, God did," the man testified. Then came a loud angry voice from the other side of the room, "I certainly did not!"           

Humans claim to be more than we are and in the end, become less than we were.  Put here to be under authority, we refuse to be subject to any one. Made as stewards of God’s creation, we want to be owners.  Somehow we have detached ourselves from God. 

The owner of the vineyard sent his rent collectors to the tenants to collect what was rightfully his, but none were successful & were treated shamefully as well.                                       

So the owner sent his only son, but they killed him as well, thinking the vineyard would be theirs.                                                           

There is something in our bent, sinful nature that refuses to be owned or ruled.  We will not accept orders nor worship anyone.  History bears it out over and over again as God sends his "rent collectors" to the tenants only to have them treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed.  Hosea the prophet said, "All of them are hot as an oven, and they devour their rulers" (Hosea 7:7).

                Isaiah was sawn in two.

                Jeremiah was stoned.

                Amos was murdered with a club.

                John the Baptizer was beheaded. And the Son sent from God—Jesus was impaled upon a cross near the city garbage dump.                 

                But it didn’t stop there.  John was the only original apostle who escaped persecution & martyrdom. 

                Peter was crucified upside down.

                Paul was beheaded. James was put to the sword.

                Stephen was stoned to death.

                History goes on down through 21 centuries of Christendom.                                                       

                Huss was burned at the stake.

                Wycliffe was exiled.

                Luther was thrown out of the church. 

It's a dangerous job to be a rent collector for the Lord.

There’s a story about the Angel Gabriel.  He had been surveying the earth and its inhabitants & was reporting back to God.

"LORD, it's my duty to inform you that you possess a choice piece of real estate known as planet earth. But the tenants are destroying it.  They have polluted the air, & your rivers.   They frequently kill one another, and all the prophets you've sent   have met with violent death. As I see it, Lord, you've got but one option.  Shall I post the eviction notice now?"

And God said, "No, Gabriel! No, not just yet. I know you are right, but I keep thinking if I just give them a little more time they'll quit acting like they own the place!" 

But in time, the owner of the vineyard has had enough, and destroys the wicked tenants and leases his vineyard out to others who will be faithful to him.                                                           

History chronicles nation by nation rising to power in the vineyard, all turning their backs on God. One-by-one, from the ancient to the modern, they have been evicted. 

The real question:  when will we learn our arms are too short to box with God? 

One of the world's smallest nations in the world, is the nation of Liechtenstein.  It is only 61 square miles found between Austria and Switzerland on the Rhine River.                                      

But what about the kingdom that is your life?                                                                                                   

The vineyard God has planted in you?                                                                                                                

The life He has leased to you?                                                                                                                               

How are you tending his vineyard?

Has the owner received what is due?                                                                                                                 

Or more importantly, what have you done with God's Son, Jesus?                                          

Lord Jesus, teach me to give you first place in my life, that I might honor You with worship and obedience.  Amen