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4-7-19 Sermon

 Luke: 20:9-20

Have you noticed almost everything has a warning label attached to it? Everything from artwork to zippers comes with warnings. For example irons have warning labels that read: “Never iron clothes while you’re wearing them”. A superman’s cape warning: “Cape does not enable user to fly.” Apparently these warnings are necessary because not everyone realizes the dangers that should be obvious.

This morning Jesus is warning us about spiritual matters.

Don’t reject God’s claim on your life.

Don’t reject God’s call to repent.

Don’t reject God’s salvation in Jesus.

The parable in today’s Gospel was likely told on the Tuesday of Holy Week. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He cleared the temple money changers on Monday and on Tuesday He was teaching in the temple courts in the very presence of the chief priests, who demanded to know where he got his authority to teach. Jesus explains by telling the Parable of the Tenants.

The owner of the vineyard represents God the Father. The vineyard itself is God’s people, Israel. The sharecroppers were the leaders to whom God had entrusted his chosen people.

By saying that a man came and planted a vineyard, the Israelites were reminded that they had not chosen to become God’s people. God had “planted” them. In the same way, we are part of God’s family through faith in CHRIST Jesus, by which the Holy Spirit came to us through Word and Sacrament.

Our response to being chosen is to use our time, talents and treasures to live a life praising and glorifying God. But like the sharecroppers in the parable, our sinful nature tells us to do just the opposite. So we chase God away. So does God have a right to our time, talents, and treasures? Does God deserve fruit from the sharecroppers?

He owns the land, he had planted the vineyard, and the Gospel of Matthew and Mark tell us, he had even built a fence around the vineyard, put up a watchtower there, and built a winepress in it. The sharecroppers could not claim that these things belonged to them.

So when they sent away the owner’s servant empty-handed they were being arrogant and downright foolish. The wicked sharecroppers in the parable didn’t get punished right away. The owner sent more servants to collect what belonged to him. But all these servants were treated like the first: some were beaten and sent away empty-handed – others were killed.

The servants in the parable represent God’s prophets he’d sent to urge them to live the way God wanted them to live. Instead of listening to these prophets God’s people persecuted them. The prophet Jeremiah was stoned to death, and the prophet Isaiah was sawed in half.

So how well do we listen to God’s messengers? When someone points out our sin, do we blow them off? Do we get defensive? What right do you have to say that to me? You have no right to judge me! I’ve found if the judgment card is played someone is guilty.

God sends someone to warn us because God loves us. He doesn’t want us to continue in our sin and end up his enemy through unholy living. Yes, it hurts when others point out our sin. We like having people tell us how great we are. God’s messengers are like warning labels: warning us about our sinful attitudes and actions that only tear us away from our Savior.

The patience of the vineyard owner was astonishing—to the point of sending his son to the sharecroppers, hoping things would be different. But the sharecroppers conspired to kill him thinking that they would then inherit the vineyard.

The chief priests were seeking a way to kill Jesus so they could hold on to their positions of power—at least for a while. Jesus wanted them to know—as he wants us to know, that if they rejected him, no one was left to save them. Jesus quoted Psalm 118: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed” (Luke. 2:17, 18).

Jesus is the capstone of our salvation, without him we have no salvation. Then what? Jesus says that all those who stumble over him will be broken to pieces - a picture of judgment. But those who actively campaign against him the rock will fall and they will be crushed to pieces.

 

Whenever the word of God is proclaimed, people split into two camps. Some receive it with joy; others will be offended and persecute those who receive it. The church is not a kingdom that can be built in peace. It is located within the devil’s domain. Accordingly, the Church Militant is at war until the blessed end. Therefore a church at ease is a false church.

 

Warning labels tell us something about our society. Who would iron clothes while wearing them? Or jump out of a second-story window wearing superman’s jammys?

 

Don’t reject the claim Jesus has on your life. It is truly dangerous to ignore God’s messengers. Jesus warns us because he loves us. He bowed beneath the pressure of the cross to lift us to heaven. I pray that he is the Rock of our salvation. Amen.