Luke 20:9-19 (Fifth Sunday in Lent—Series C)
“Will They Respect the Son?”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT
March 13, 2016
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is the Gospel Lesson from Luke 19:
9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
Perhaps they will respect the owner’s son. The odds were not in favor of that outcome, for sure. Servant after servant was sent into the vineyard and servant after servant came away beaten, wounded, and empty-handed. Time to send in the beloved son. They will respect the owner’s son and heir, will they not? No, they won’t.
Will you? Do you always respect the Son whom the Father has sent? A collective groan is appropriate at this point as God’s Word points its finger at all of us. We do not continually respect the Son. We disrespect Him. We dishonor Him.
Have you ever acted as if you were not a Christian? If so, you have disrespected Jesus Christ whose name you bear. When you deny your faith in Christ by going along with the crowd you are dishonoring the Lord Jesus by claiming to be someone you are not called to be in your Baptism. Rather than standing firm in what you believe, you compromise the Word of God. You act contrary to the Christian faith. The group you desire to be a part of curses and swears. You join along. That dishonors Christ. You watch a movie or an online video that you know is full of scenes and a plot that is contrary to good morals and the Word of God. You fill your eyes and ears and heart with the filth. You disrespect Jesus. You blatantly disobey your parents, your boss. You dishonor the Lord. When you act and talk one way on Sundays and do and say the total opposite during the week, you are a hypocrite and thereby disrespect Christ.
Understand what sin is and does even to you who wear the name of Christ. Sin wants to separate you from God and His Word of life. Sin desires to have its way with you so that you feel most important, are the center of attention, and get what you want out of life and from other people. Sin in your life is not interested in Jesus Christ. It could care less about “Thus says the Lord.” And every time we fall into sin and do or think or say or desire things that God’s Word forbids, we are saying the Jesus, “I don’t care one bit about you. I don’t care that you have come into the world. I’m going to live my way. This world is my vineyard now.”
Sin, by its very nature, is disrespectful to Jesus. Sin, by its very nature, dishonors Jesus. Every time we sin, we disregard and disgrace the One who came to love us with a love beyond knowing and understanding.
We have rejected and ignored the Word of God spoken by His servants, the prophets. We have blatantly ignored His commandments; we have also disobeyed His laws without even knowing it because disobedience comes so naturally to us. But Jesus’ parable teaches us of a Father who is filled with love and patience. He sends and sends—and keeps on sending. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10-11 ESV).
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14 ESV). God sent His Son into the vineyard of the world to those who are by nature poor, miserable sinners. He sent His one-of-a-kind Son to those who reject and despise His Word and Commandments, those who disrespect and dishonor Him and even the Son whom He has sent. But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16 ESV).
And they killed the Son. You killed the Son. I killed the Son. It was our sins that He carried in His body on the cross. It was our death and hell that Jesus suffered and died in our place, as our perfect substitute, our sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, your sin and mine. This Biblical truth has been set to music by the Lutheran Pastor Paul Gerhardt in the 1600s. Listen to these two stanzas of hymn 453,“Upon the Cross Extended.”:
Who is it, Lord, that bruised You? I caused Your grief and sighing
Who has so sore abused You By evils multiplying
And caused You all Your woe? As countless as the sands.
We all must make confession I caused the woes unnumbered
Of sin and dire transgression With which Your soul is cumbered,
While You no ways of evil know. Your sorrows raised by wicked hands.
Powerful words about the powerful love of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for you. The Father sent His Son with the purpose of suffering and dying on the cross to purchase your complete forgiveness. He knew that the Jewish leaders wouldn’t respect His Son. And that, in His divine wisdom, was what was necessary to have His Son die for the sins of the whole world. Jesus died on Calvary’s cross for the sinful disrespect of His own people, as well as for our rejection of Him and God’s holy Word. Jesus was even “dishonored” by His own Father because of our sins as God abandoned His beloved Son to the suffering of hell on the cross when He cried out in dereliction, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
But this was for you because God loves you. Yes, the Father abandoned His Son out of love for sinners like us. He “gave up” His Son into death so that you and I might live eternally with Him, sins forgiven. And—get this!—we are now heirs of life and salvation! In the end, we share in the Son’s inheritance because God raised Him from the dead! We share in the life and resurrection of Jesus!
The Stone which the builders rejected—Jesus the Son—the Stone which we rejected and disrespected, has become for us the cornerstone of our faith and life! We, at times, have fallen on that Stone and have been broken as we have been convinced and convicted of our sins. Christ has pulled us up short and stopped us in our path. He has caused us to see the shoddiness of our thinking and the ugliness of our living. But Christ Jesus continually stands there with His love and grace for us. He gives us forgiveness for ALL our sins by His grace alone, without any merit or worthiness in us. Life everlasting with Him belongs to you and me because he has made us co-heirs of Jesus’ glory and kingdom!
And yet today, right here in our own town, there are people who choose not to believe in Jesus as their Savior from sin and death. There are also those who do not know of His love and grace and the inheritance that His death and resurrection has won for them. The message of God’s Word that you have received this morning is also the message that they need to hear. The Father sent His beloved Son for you, but He also sent Jesus for them—for the lost, for the searching, for the uncertain. For anyone and everyone who ever has or ever will disrespect or dishonor the Son of God, there is forgiveness and an eternal inheritance. We know, because we have received it by God’s grace through His Gospel in Word and Sacrament. We know the love of God in Christ. Share that love. Speak the Good News to people! They must hear it. They must hear it from you.
Will they all respect the Son? No. But it’s not our calling as church to make them. Our calling is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and life forever with the Lord in His kingdom. It’s their inheritance, by divine right, because the divine Son purchased and won it for them. By the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, give people what Jesus wants them to have: forgiveness of ALL sins, rescue from death and hell, resurrection, and eternal life. Tell people about the Son who died and rose for you and for all. Amen.