Posted by on Oct 4, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Our Cornerstone

Dear Lord….thank you so much for the gifts you give us each day…the gift of health, the gift of friends, the gift of a home and place to lay our head in the evening…and especially for the love you give us every day. Thank you for the Son you gave us all who died for our forgiveness and life. Show us how we can spread your Good News to other people through our words and our actions.

Two of our lessons for this Sunday come from Philippians 3:4b-16 and from Matthew 21:33-46.
In the Matthew text, we see the third time Jesus has utilized a parable set in a vineyard. Remember that the vineyard represents God’s world, of which we are a part of, and the owner is God. He utilized this parable to attempt to speak to the temple leaders through a story, calling on their own minds to realize what he was saying.

In the first usage of the vineyard, stated specifically in Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus was talking about the workers that were hired to work in the vineyard. The owner/manager promised them all a day’s wages, but those who began work early in the morning were upset when they received the same payment as those who began work in the late afternoon. The complainers were jealous of those who received the same amount of pay.

Remember that “manager” asked the complainers, “Are you envious because I’m generous?” What Jesus was really talking about was that God gives grace and forgiveness to all those He chooses to give to. He gives to those who accept His truth and His Son. Also…God gives the same gifts and graces to everyone who believes in Him and accepts Jesus as Savior.

Then, last week, we were again told a parable about the vineyard. In this parable, Jesus was telling the temple leaders about two sons. One son was asked to work in the vineyard and refused to do as his father asked him. He later repented and was accepted by his father. The second son was asked to work in the vineyard and said he would. However, he did NO work in the vineyard.

Jesus was using the parable to expose the leader’s deficient view of both John the Baptist and Jesus. The first son was representing known sinners who were disobedient before they heard John’s message and later repented. The second son represented the temple leaders who feigned obedience to God and refused to accept John’s message. Jesus was telling the temple leaders that sinners will go to God’s kingdom before they would….as they refused to accept John’s message and would not believe.

So…this week, we have the third parable about the vineyard. The theme of this story is that of “producing fruit”. In this parable, the vineyard is not only God’s world, but more specifically represents the people of Israel. The owner of this vineyard had put a great deal of work and protection into the building of the place. Then, it was leased to tenants and the owner left the country.

With any vineyard, the owner was due to have a percentage of the product. So, the owner sent his slaves/representatives to collect what was owed to him. (Rather like rental payment for the owner.) However, the slaves were beaten and killed by the tenants. So, the owner sent his son to get what was owed him. He thought that the tenants would respect the son. However, they killed the owner’s son.

OK…are you beginning to see what this parable represents? The owner is God. The tenants are the leaders of Israel. The fruit that is being raised represents the righteous life owed to God for his gifts to all. The slaves/representatives rejected and killed are the prophets, including John. And, the son represents Jesus.

God’s creation is great and He has cared for Israel from the beginning. Jesus asks the temple leaders what the owner would do to those who killed his representatives and his son. The leaders state that the owner would put the tenants to death and lease the vineyard to those who would produce fruit.

With Jesus’ explanation to the leaders, they quickly realize that the parable was about them and their refusal to produce the fruit that God required of their leadership in the nation of Israel. This became very pointed when Jesus said, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” (verse 43)

Jesus also reminded the leaders of a section from the prophet Isaiah, referring specifically to the stone that the builders rejected and became the cornerstone. Interesting that Jesus also told those listening what would happen to him, knowing what the temple leaders would do.

Christ is the cornerstone that we build our lives on. We stand on his promises…we stand on the love and forgiveness of God who gave us His son…and who expects us to produce fruit in the world he created. We have confidence that God loves and forgives us. We slip at times and do not do what God asks us to do. But, when we repent and ask for forgiveness, He gives us the forgiveness we need to continue doing His work in His world.

We ARE now tenants in God’s vineyard. We are to accept God’s message and give to those he sends to us for help and sharing of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness. We are asked to share His Amazing Grace with all we meet.


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