9-27-20 Sermon

Matthew 21:23-32 

Dear Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son, Jesus the CHRIST, into our world to reveal Your will for our lives and to redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to acknowledge the authority of Your living Word, and repent of our sins, that we might know the joy and peace of Your redeeming grace. This we ask in CHRIST’s holy name. Amen.

 

What had gotten the chief priests and elders all riled up?

 

Let’s just say: Jesus was trespassing on their turf. While He was teaching and healing in Galilee and Nazareth and Judea, they didn’t like it, but they put up with it. But now-- in the Temple, He was on their turf.

 

Right before this, Jesus had entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday with shouts of Hosanna. On Monday, Jesus drove out all the moneychangers and said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

 

Jesus went into the Temple to claim what was rightfully His.

 

For the chief priests and elders Jesus had crossed the line and needed to understand just who was in charge. The chief priests were of the tribe of Levi - which God had appointed to be the temple authority. So who gave Jesus the authority to make this HIS Temple?

Obviously Jesus had power. But there’s a difference between power and authority. Power is the ability to do something; authority is the permission to do it. A gang member and a policeman both have guns and the power to use them, but only one has the lawful authority to do so. Authority is given, not taken.

 

So, Jesus . . . who gave You this authority?

 

Jesus didn’t argue with them. Instead He referred to John the Baptist a prophet sent from God—with God given authority to do what He was doing.

 

But any prophet of God had to speak the truth 100% of the time. John preached repentance and baptism. John testified to Jesus, saying: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). So was John a prophet from God, right?

 

The chief priests and elders couldn’t answer. If they said John wasn’t a prophet they’d have a riot on their hands. But none of them believed what John said about Jesus--and they still don’t.

Jesus puts the Pharisees and elders into the parable I just read. The Pharisees and elders were the first son, talking about repentance but not repenting himself; saying one thing and doing another.

 

The second son included the despicable tax collectors, the vile prostitutes, and every sinner who repented and believed, entered the kingdom of God. Initially they said “no” but had a change of heart and went to work in the Father’s vineyard.

 

That was the last straw. Jesus had gone too far! The chief priests and elders spent their whole life condemning the tax collectors and prostitutes. And now Jesus tells them they needed to follow the example of the tax collectors and prostitutes and repent? The Pharisees then and the Pharisees now never like being accused and convicted of their sin.

 

We’re Christians. How many of us hear God’s Word but never learn or apply it?

 

Is it too difficult? Is Jesus expecting too much?

 

It’s not culturally acceptable to be a Christian.

 

Jesus can’t expect us to lead a sexually pure and decent life; or to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt me? You’ve got to be kidding.

 

I don’t want to honor God’s Word above everything else. If I do that I won’t get promoted. If I’m not at practice, I won’t start in the game.

 

And God expects me to be content with what I have when that no good neighbor of mine lies and cheats and steals and gets away with it. Is that fair?

 

I do believe the Pharisee syndrome affects us all. Where is Jesus calling you to repentance?

 

Jesus used the authority that God the Father had given Him and laid down His life for you on the cross. He shed His blood that you can be forgiven. All of us need the Lamb of God to take away our sin.

 

You've been washed in Holy Baptism. The Holy Spirit lives in you and you have become His Temple. He has given you a clean heart; the courage you need to remain faithful; to forgive those who sin against you; to be His daughter or son He created you to be.

So come and join fellow sinners to receive the forgiveness and life of Jesus. Then go and live as the child of God you are. Amen

 

 
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