Our September 27 Sunday outdoor worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. Our social spacing seating arrangement assures minimal risk when you come in person.
The October 4 worship service will be held in our church sanctuary with members and friends in attendance. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
September 27 Sermon
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 | Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13 | Matthew 21:23-32
There is an honest question, sort of, for Jesus today. Jesus is disrupting the things in the Temple (and around Jerusalem generally) with his teachings and healings. The Chief priests and the elders ask, “By what authority are you doing these things?” They are probably asking this question to put Jesus in his place, make him slow down and realize that he is in the sacred setting of God’s Temple, which at least, should put him in his place. Or what they consider to be his place. Thus begins another fencing match between them.
And, of course, Jesus turns it around on them, with his usual style of answering a question with a question. They never really learn. “Answer me this, by what authority did John baptize?” and by unsaid extension, that Jesus’ actions have the same authority.
The priests, wanting to maintain the status quo, don’t exactly answer (today, we would call it politics or diplomacy). They have their reasons, Jesus has trapped them again. “If we say John had divine authority, then Jesus will say, “Why didn’t you believe him.”” If we say “Human authority, his own,” that would set the crowds into an uproar and possibly a riot, since the crowds are already considering John a prophet. So, they choose the safe, copout answer, “We don’t know.” And Jesus ripostes, “Then I won’t tell you either.”
Instead, Jesus tells them a parable, the parable of the Two Sons. And, remember it is aimed right at these priests and elders. And, in a way, it is an answer to their question. The one son says that he won’t do as his father says, but later feels bad about it, changes his mind and goes to work. In other words, he repents. The other son says that he will do as the father says, and decides not to after all. Guess which son represents the priests and elders?
The parable is aimed at the priests and elders who may say that they are doing the work of God, but aren’t. They aren’t toiling for God’s kingdom. In this setting, they haven’t even made up their minds whether John the Baptist was sent by God or not. Instead of taking the risk of doing what God wants, they would rather play it safe, and maintain that old status quo, and stay in the Temple where it is nice and safe, except for an occasional uprising outside. They aren’t walking their talk.
On the other hand; and here is where they really get insulted: sinners, even the hated tax collectors and the prostitutes are told that they are getting into the kingdom of heaven ahead of the priests and elders. Why? Because 1) They believed John, and that John was from God, and 2) they repented, turned around, and are now working for God’s kingdom. Is it any wonder, that after this very public insult, that the chief priests and elders want Jesus dead? They got sour grapes, and now their own teeth are set on edge. I love that saying. If you’ve ever bitten into a sour grape, you understand that saying. We should try to reinvigorate it in our culture.
There is a double theme in the text today:
Recognizing God’s messenger. Knowing and believing, first that John was sent by God, but more importantly for us, that Jesus is sent by God. That he is the Christ, and so is God Incarnate for us.
Repentance. That is: hearing God’s message, and turning our lives around to do those things which are right with God (that is being righteous).
Both are necessary. The first son is praised for doing the Father’s will, even though he at first refused. We are called to that same kind of repentance. The messenger who calls us to that is God’s Son himself: Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, and was raised by the glory of the Father. He calls to us, to repent of the ways in which we have fallen; and turn and join him to work in His Father’s vineyard, which is wherever we may find ourselves. That is a life of faith and repentance.
The work of the vineyard is that of Word and deed. It is proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, and working for God’s peace in this world. Both of which we are called to do in our everyday lives as we are given opportunity, even in the midst of a pandemic. Let us join Christ there, in this fallen world in which we find ourselves. But first, join Him at the altar, and be strengthened by him in faith for that work, the tasks which he sets before us as we prepare to reenter the vineyard.