Monday, September 25, 2017

Sermon September 23-24, 2017

Title: Thank God, Christ is not fair with you!
Text: Matthew 20:1-16

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Over the triple doorways of the cathedral of Milan there are three inscriptions spanning the splendid arches. Over one is carved a beautiful wreath of roses, and underneath it is the legend, "All that which pleases is but for a moment."

Over the other is sculptured a cross, and there are the words, "All that which troubles us is but for a moment."

But underneath the great central entrance to the main aisle is the inscription, "That only is important … which is eternal."

If we always realize these three truths, we will not let trifles trouble us, not be interested so much in the passing pleasures of the hour. We should live for the permanent and the eternal.

Source Unknown.

As we think about the gift of faith and eternal life we also look at that which we could never earn, our salvation, but which is still given not as a merit or a wage but as a gift and that is … Christ’s forgiveness … freely given!

Thank God, Christ is not fair with you or me and gives us what we deserve.

In the gospel reading for today we see the work of daily labor compared to the Kingdom of heaven. In the story Jesus says that:

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

The master of the house sends laborers into the vineyard to work for the day. They agree to a denarius for the days wage and go to work. This continues on as throughout the day the master returns and hires more laborers at the third, sixth and ninth hour. At the eleventh hour he also hires laborers for his vineyard and agrees to pay the same denarius for their work.

Saying to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’

All who have been given work are happy and agree to the terms of their employment.

Finally the day is done.

8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’

Those who were hired last were paid first and receive the denarius promised. Those who had been hired first expect more than what they agreed too … as they had labored in the vineyard all day, twelve hours in all. But, they too receive a denarius.

11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

So if we look at this situation from a human and sinful perspective we see the inequity of the master. One worked twelve hours and one worked nine hours, another six hours others just three hours while some only worked one hour … yet they were all paid the same.

Or … they received the same.

If we place this situation into the world and the court system one might expect a law suit to determine fair compensation, even though those who were hired first had agreed to the wage. In fact all agreed to the wage not knowing what the others had been hired for. The inequity seems large and is … as much as twelve times the wage for those who were hired last.

When you look at the story in perspective to work, yes it seems unfair, and I’m sure there would be a class action law suit directed at the master for unfair labor practices. But all agreed to the wage and when you put it in that perspective … as the master says:

Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

This is the real analogy here, where those who have been brought to faith and raised in the faith for their whole lives, having been baptized as infants as it were, and having the blessings of God, they may see it as unfair for those who were apart from faith in God … and are in fact our enemies of God for their whole lives, and even up to the last hour of their life, where they may then be brought to faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, even on their death beds; having been given the same gift of faith in Christ given the infant in baptism where they both receive the Kingdom of God for all eternity.

The master says …

I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The truth of who is the active agent in salvation is real simple. It is God alone who moves and brings to faith. It is through the means of grace of word and sacrament that God turns us from God’s enemies and makes us His children by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit.

For we who are redeemed by faith and the working of the Holy Spirit we too are sent into the lord’s vineyard to work. For some long and hard and for others just for a moment, yet the gift of our loving God in Christ is the Kingdom and eternal life. We all who have received faith receive the gift and what it promises.

The prophetic word is still alive today. It is proclaimed, it is taught and it is received and by the Spirit’s work … Christ is made known; for some as infants and for others on their death beds but all receive the same promise of God’s Kingdom in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank God, Christ is not fair with you!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!


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