18th Sunday after Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
September 29, 1996
(Getting what we deserve has become a nearly religious experience! Unions demand higher wages and better working conditions because they want to get what they deserve. Civil rights organizations demand legislation because they want to get what their constituency deserves. Special interest groups employ lobbyists to influence government officials so that their agenda is met and they get what they deserve.
ALL OF US WANT TO GET WHAT WE DESERVE.
The human being works on a system of effort and payback.
From a worldly point of view it makes a good deal of sense.
If we work hard, produce well, then we should be able to receive our due.
There is even a virtue of sorts in this regard - The Bible says, "If he will not work, neither shall he eat.
Free enterprise and entrepreneurship are based on the idea that self-investment will earn returns.
We all want to be self-made men and women...self-starters...go-getters and power brokers in command of their lives.
It is the very definition of "success" in this world.
With Frank Sanatra we want to look the world in the eye and sing, "I did it my way."
In the parable, Jesus is telling us that the rules of the world do not apply to the Kingdom of Heaven.
A parable is a fictional story told to teach a real meaning.
The Kingdom of Heaven = the rule and operation of God's grace.
The Landowner = God in His grace.
The Vineyard = God's visible Church on earth where the work of His grace is seen.
The denarius = The earthly blessings experienced while working in the Church.
Here there is a clash between those who are satisfied with what the Master gives and those who are not:
The first shift of workers shows us where there heart is by their actions: (v. 2)
They would not work until an agreement regarding their pay was made.
This demonstrates their mercenary attitude toward their work in the vineyard.
Today too, there are people working hard in God's Church who have a mercenary attitude:
There are church members who false believe that because they are in the Church and because they serve in the Church that, therefore, God owes them eternal life.
They want what they deserve!
When the distribution of wages comes, this group of self-made men receive what they should have expected...exactly what they deserved.
They negotiated a wage of one denarius and that was what they received, but they were not satisfied with it.
This distribution is done exactly so that they may see the error of their ways.
Had they been paid first, then they would have wandered off completely satisfied having received what had been agreed upon.
The source of their grumbling was that the landowner had treated the late arriving workers on an equal basis with them.
ILLUS: The "Charter Member Syndrome"...
This echoes back to Peter's wrong-headed comment in (Mt. 19:27)
Hear the Lord's verdict regarding this group of mercenary workers:
(v. 14) "Take your pay and go. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?"
This is not a mere invitation to depart, but a divine recognition that these self-righteous, mercenary workers were not again invited back to the vineyard...These men were unbelievers.
GOD, IN THE MERCY OF JESUS CHRIST, GIVES US WHAT WE DO NOT, DESERVE.
First, hear the word of instruction that the Landowner gives to those in His Kingdom:
If we are in the Kingdom, we ought to be at work in the vineyard!
(v. 3) The workers were idly standing around in the marketplace.
(v. 6) They are scolded by the Landowner and their excuses (v. 7) were unacceptable.
These late comers were simply not able to accomplish as much for the cause of the Kingdom than those who went to work early on!
Are you still standing in the "marketplace" of your life?
Have you seen that your faith, while real, is simply a spectator sport with participation being somehow meant for someone else?
Is your faith now simply on receiving mode and not on giving mode?
Clearly, the message is that if we have received faith, it ought to be at work for the sake of the Kingdom.
Second, let us thank God that we do not receive what we deserve!
Like the workers who can after the first shift, we receive the generosity of the Landowner.
Yes, we do receive the full blessing of association in the Church in this world.
Lenski: "No man who enters the visible church in God's church shall be left without his due payment...all her associations and her influences are highly beneficial.
We are surrounded with the highest morality.
We are shielded against evil.
We are instructed with the best for mind and heart in this life.
But eternal life is something different than earthly blessings.
The mercenaries did not receive that.
The ones who were satisfied did...even though they didn't receive what they deserved!
As God's people we recognize our incredible need for forgiveness.
We have learned that we cannot work hard enough to remove or negotiate away that sin stain from our lives.
Therefore, we have received the mercy of the cross in Christ
We have received what we did not deserve...THANK GOD!
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