Our October 4 Sunday 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. 21 quilts made by church members were blessed during the service to be sent to mission fields by Lutheran World Relief.
The October 11 worship services will be held in our church sanctuary at 8 and 10:30 am 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.
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Sermon October 4
Isaiah 5:1-7 | Psalm 80:7-14
Philippians 3:4b-14 | Matthew 21:33-46
Well, if the Chief Priests and the Pharisees didn’t catch a clue that Jesus was talking about them in his parables last week, they finally picked up upon it this week. It says that they wanted to arrest him on the spot, but since they were afraid of the crowds (who considered Jesus a prophet), they decided not yet. And, ironically, this particular parable, comes true, thus making it a prophecy and a Passion Prediction, precisely because the Chief Priests and the Pharisees act in ways in which they are described in the parable – you would have thought that they would act differently so as to prove Jesus wrong! That is something odd to come in the lessons at this time of year.
The parable itself is pretty cut and dry: God owns the vineyard, the vineyard is the world/kingdom, the servants/slaves are the prophets, the renters/leasers/tenants (or we may prefer the term Share croppers, which is what they appear to be) are the Chief Priests and Pharisees, and the son is of course, Jesus. That part is easy to figure out.
What I’ve always found bizarre is the thinking of the tenants in this story: They abuse and kill the slaves. That certainly isn’t going to make any brownie points with the owner. And then, when he sends his son thinking, “They will respect my son.” They don’t respect him at all, but say, and here is the weird part, “Here is the heir, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.” Talk about strange!! True, by Jewish (and other Middle Eastern cultures) if a man died without an heir, the inheritance went to the eldest male slave born in his house. That was Abraham’s situation until Sarah gave birth to Isaac by the way. But, these tenants haven’t even got that to stand on. The law isn’t on their side at all. Or is that one of the main points of this story, “THE LAW IS NOT ON THEIR SIDE (NOR OURS).” Indeed, for their acts (and ours), the law is against them.
The chief priest and those who are supposed to be the stewards of the house, are acting like the owners. They may even think that they are the owners, the old “possession is 9 tenths of the law” routine. My favorite singer, Jimmy Buffett has a song, “Gypsies in the Palace,” about a similar situation (I wonder if there is a factual basis to it), about people who are supposed to be housesitting for him while he is gone on tour, and as soon as he leaves and can’t see what they are doing, they turn his home into a giant party palace. They are doing the very thing that they are supposed to be avoiding – taking care of, not tearing up the place. The priests are doing the same thing. They aren’t acting as stewards of the Temple, acting on God’s behalf and rendering to God His due. No, they are acting like they own the place. The threat behind this parable is simple, they are about to lose their positions – forever. By the way, Judaism no longer has any Priest – Chief or otherwise, scribes, nor are there any Pharisees left. The Romans eliminate the priests about 40 years after Jesus tells this story. And the Pharisees slowly but surely are replaced by the rabbis.
Reversals: that is what the lesson is about. The Chief Priests and Pharisees are going to lose their supposed inheritance, precisely because the Son’s claim is far greater than theirs. To quote the saying, “The stone that is rejected, is now the cornerstone.” The cornerstone was (and often still is) the single most important stone of a structure. From it, all other stones were measured and aligned. The Priests and Pharisees, having rejected Christ, are now themselves rejected and disenfranchised, or as Christ says, “Broken to pieces and crushed.” Through Christ, all things are changed, “the old has passed away.”
The Temple is gone. The Chief Priests and Pharisees are no more. The tenants in the vineyard have been evicted. The Son of God himself has come to claim us as his own, death could not hold him. At this point in time, we make up part of the harvest of the vineyard. And being claimed by Christ, we now share in his inheritance, through him, we are made children of God, with him. All that there is to say is, “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes.”