S-1271 14SAP/3C 9/18/11 Hymns (O) #342; S#442; (C) # 744 LSB
Text: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:12-14, 19-30; Matthew 20:1-16
Theme: “A God Without Limits!” (Matthew 20:13-16)
Question: “Have you ever gotten a rain check?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost is the Gospel lesson: “But [Jesus] replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with Me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last’” (Matthew 20:13-16).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
Children of God, today God’s grace will be poured upon you like oil on the head of Aaron running down to his beard. Today, you will see love oozing out from the veins of Christ and making you one of His own. Today, we travel to Palestine and grasp one of Christ’s teaching moments about God’s unlimited generosity. Today, by the power of the Holy Spirit you will learn again what kind of God you have—one who has no limits as He dispenses His grace and favor towards you—unworthy, poor, miserable sinners. And…And today, you will see with eyes of faith that salvation is totally, 100% God’s Work and we have no part in it.
Today’s mighty Word from Matthew will open your eyes anew and make you glad at the treasure found in it. So glad, in fact, that our Savior God isn’t fair! We like to get a fair treatment. We hear such things as he deserves this or that. She should get it because she is so nice and does so many good things to help others. Just the other day on the View, Michael Moore said: “That Osama Ben Laden deserves to have a fair trial right in New York.” At the hearing of these words, the audience began to boo because they didn’t think that Osama Ben Laden deserves to be treated fair or given a fair trial because he killed over 3000 innocent lives.
Yes, we all want a fair treatment. We want to receive the most out of life. But is that possible? I’m certain you have experienced this. It is Black Friday or a big sale day and you are standing in line for an item where there is a limited amount or number available. But you are one person too late. Though you slept on the side walk in your sleeping bag and stood in the cold for hours, the special item was sold out. A limited supply yields a limited result! Today I want to look at the God who has no limits on His supply of grace, of mercy, and of peace! He does not treat us fairly. Indeed He cannot! Indeed, He will not!
The parable of the Rich Landowner reveals much about us - to be sure - but so much more about Him who in love gave us what we don’t deserve. This teaching doesn’t sit well with us. “Unfair,” was the cry of the workers in Jesus’ parable when all received the same wage. Those who had worked just one hour before the whistle blew received as much as those who had broken their backs under the blazing noonday Palestinian sun. Yes, unfair according to the ways of the world but not according to God’s grace.
Here, we see the utter blindness to grace of those hired first. All they can think about is that they should deserve more since the guys hired with but one hour in the work-day received a full day’s wage. The Land owner will dismiss them. His response “take what belongs to you and go!” is very harsh. These folks were in the vineyard, the Vineyard of the Lord, yet they excluded themselves from receiving the true day’s wage - the heart of the One who called them. Condemnation unto damnation is a serious matter. Yet this is not the work of the Land Owner but of the grumbling, self-centered fools who see themselves as being somehow cheated. God does not condemn them, they do it to themselves.
Get the point! Forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven are nothing but pure grace from Him who is love. They are undeserved favors from the hand of a loving God. Every believer shares in them equally. Those who are brought to faith in the morning hour of life, and those who come later in the evening hour. Those who are baptized as a baby, as well as the deathbed convert. The murderer who repents the night before his execution along with the faithful grandmother. Words like first and last simply have no meaning when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. The word to use is grace. God’s grace that covers us all. PAUSE
We see this gift of grace which results in forgiveness clearly taught in the book of Luke (23:42). It is Friday A.D. 33 in Palestine. A Jewish Carpenter is hanging between two thieves. One of the thieves, had a simple request of the Rabi, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This son of Abraham did not begin working in the Vineyard at 5 pm to get paid at 6 pm, he started work at 5:59:59 pm! Yet we are glad to hear the good news of Jesus, “This very day you shall be with Me in Paradise!” (v. 43).
Why? Why are we so glad? Is it because we are also latecomers to Grace? NO! The answer, if we look for it in ourselves, will always be lacking. Rather, behold the Land Owner! He is so gracious. We must see ourselves as surely condemned and without hope as this thief on the cross, as those hired one moment before quitting time! Even if our Baptismal date was mere days after our natural birth and we grew up our whole life with the Word of God in our ears and in our hearts, we were still late-comers and in that folks who didn’t then and still do not deserve the Love of God. To turn a line from a cowboy movie around, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it!” In the cowboy movie a rough character gets his "what he got coming to him” and as he is about to die at the hand of the avenger, he says, I was building a house, I don’t deserve this, to die this way! Clint Eastwood, the avenger, holding the gun to the man with an evil heart says, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it!”
Look closely at this sweet text and see who is standing there—not an avenger, but a gracious Savior and Lord, the Redeemer. Jesus calls us into His Vineyard, at break of day, 9 am, Noon, 3 pm, at 5 pm, or even 5:59:59 pm. His Vineyard is a place of work. The sun can be hot and the hours may seem long. But it is work in His vineyard! The work is to tend and to gather in the fruit that He plants - other souls. Everything is about souls. Everything about the Gospel, the Church, the Vineyard, the Owner, and those He calls is always and in all ways about Saving Souls. If the church goes into any other direction it ceases to be the Vineyard of the Lord.
Everyone must be called into the Vineyard, and that Divine Call comes from His lips, from His Son’s lips which say, in grace, “Father... forgive them... for they know not what they do!” (Luke 23:34) Yes, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it!” Aren’t you glad you have a God who is not fair and has no Limits!!! Behold the Vineyard Owner and how He calls the idle to work in His Holy Vineyard. No mention is made of the worker’s production. There are no “quotas” of production by the workers mentioned here. This is no economics lesson, unless you mean the Economy of Grace! This is all about the Rich Vineyard Owner. Because it is, we see His bounty extended to others. His heart will not horde. PAUSE.
To be sure, the law of God teaches that we don’t deserve God’s gifts, and we certainly don’t deserve eternal salvation. We don’t deserve anything from the hands of our gracious God, because more often than not we hoard His blessings. Yet, in the honesty of our confession of sin, we often think we deserve His rich grace more than others. After all, I have done this and this and this for Him. He owes me this much. That is a self-centered person talking. “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it!” If you and I want what we deserve—it is this: DEATH. Paul said it well. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). This parable shows a God Without Limits. A God who gives love to the undeserving— even to you and me! Jesus has given us more than just crumbs. He gave His life on the cross to provide us with eternal life.
But why should God send His own Son to rescue me from the eternity in hell that I so richly deserve? Why should He single me out in the surging sea of humanity to hear the news of His salvation? Why should He struggle with my rebellious heart and bring me to faith in Jesus as my only Savior? Why, why, why? Grace is the only answer that fits. It really is. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:8,9, “By grace you have been saved, through faith ... it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Grace is a comfort word. When my sins give me alarm, when my last breath is drawing near, when I need to be reminded that I have an eternal mansion prepared for me by Jesus Himself, nothing does it like God’s grace. Nothing comforts better than the truth, “Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin”
You and are indeed blessed. One of the blessings we have is this: to sing and preach God’s grace. We are gifted by God to be able to sing and preach of the God who isn’t FAIR, Without Limits and who in love demonstrates in His Economy of Grace no one is excluded and exempted and His love never ends.
My brothers and sisters in Chris, we know this fact, God isn’t fair. Deserve has nothing to do with it. It all has to do with grace! Pure, undeserved, unaltered Grace. In this we can rejoice! AMEN!
Now the peace of God…
SOLI DEO GLORIA