Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 21:33-43

In today’s parable we heard about a landowner who planted a vineyard and leased to some tenants. These tenants were happy to do the work, in the understanding that they would reap some of the fruit. It turns out they wanted all of the fruit, and the vineyard, too!

The landowner had sent his servants to collect the harvest, but it did not turn out so well with them. Finally, he sent his son, saying, “They will respect my son.”

The tenants seized the son and killed him. This the ultimate betrayal.

Then our Lord asks a question.

“Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

The our Lord drops the hammer!

“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

`The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Psalm 118:22

43 “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” The editors of our lectionary didn’t want you to hear verse 44, but I’m happy to read it for you!

So, who do you think is the landowner in the parable?

Who do you think are the tenants?

Do you think the Pharisees and the Levites realized he was prodding them?

I think he was. As I have said before, I think that Jesus was poking and prodding them all along so that they would be mad enough to have him crucified.

It may sound strange to think that the gentle and loving Son of God would do such a thing. Jesus is all about love, right? Well, you can believe that if you want to, but think about this; Jesus knew the plan, that he would have to be nailed to a cross and sacrificed.

This was the plan all along, and Jesus couldn’t commit suicide for this to work. He had to be killed by sacrificed, indirectly by the Pharisees and Levites, because they couldn’t kill him themselves.

They had to persuade Pontius Pilate to have him crucified. He was the governor, installed by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, and he had to deal with this controversy before he word of discord made it’s way back to Rome.

So Jesus took every opportunity to stick it to the Pharisees. This parable is just one more stick, but this one is different. It involves a sacrifice.

“Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.”

Christ had to be sacrificed as the Lamb of God. He had to shed his blood, not on the altar, but on the cross. His blood had to be shed, just as the animals were sacrificed on the altar to take away the sins of the people.

For us, he had to die. Think about that for a minute. What does that tell you about God the Father?

Was he willing to sacrifice his only Son for the sins of the world? Yes.

Was he willing to sacrifice his only Son to save you and me? Yes.

The parable indicates that those who have abused the Grace of the LORD will lose the kingdom of God.

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

`The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? (Psalm 118, vs 22, 23)

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.”

This was a direct attack on the Pharisees and Levites who believed they might be the only ones to inherit the Kingdom. Were they producing the fruit that was expected of them? It seems they were not. And our Lord was not happy about it.

Instead, Jesus promises the kingdom of God to those whom do produce the fruit. What fruit you might ask? How about the fruit of the Spirit?

Galatians 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The acts of the flesh are insidious. Those who condone such behavior want everybody else to do so as well. They twist the plain words of Holy Scripture to advance their agenda to change the church to fit their own lifestyles.

They would like to replace traditional Christian values with progressive values of self-love, self-actualization and self-righteousness, over the needs of anyone else. And the feminists would like to drive men out of the ministry and take our places.

The powerful and elite of our world want to justify their greed by offering to take care of us poor little people. And they want to control what we see and read so we won’t notice when they are enriching themselves at the expense of others.

We must stand firm in resistance to the acts of the flesh.

Christ has given us the antidote for the sickness of this world. We are to cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and share it with others. We must overcome the hate with the love of God.

“The stone which the builders rejected, Has become the chief cornerstone.”

The stone is Christ, who is rejected by the elite leaders of today, and he is the chief Cornerstone of his Holy Church, who is our Mother. We must guard her from the assaults of this world, and let her lead us to her Son, our Savior Jesus.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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      Also known as "way of the cross" or "via crucis" this devotion consists of 14 stations, taken both from Scripture and tradition, since the 18th century when the Church officially approved the now common Lenten practice. Through the stations, we are able to spiritually journey to the via dolorosa (Latin for "way of sorrows" or "way of suffering"). Beginning with Christ's condemnation all the way to his body being laid in the tomb, each "station" allows us to pray and reflect in prayer. Afterwards we meet in the Parish Hall for a Lenten study and meal.
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      St. John is located in the small town of Burkburnett, just north of Wichita Falls. We worship in the Anglican tradition and use the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. We would love for you to visit us on a Sunday morning. Come as you are, worship with us, and grow with us in the knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
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      Also known as "way of the cross" or "via crucis" this devotion consists of 14 stations, taken both from Scripture and tradition, since the 18th century when the Church officially approved the now common Lenten practice. Through the stations, we are able to spiritually journey to the via dolorosa (Latin for "way of sorrows" or "way of suffering"). Beginning with Christ's condemnation all the way to his body being laid in the tomb, each "station" allows us to pray and reflect in prayer. Afterwards we meet in the Parish Hall for a Lenten study and meal.
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      We meet each week at 6:00 pm for a meal and study. We hope you can join us!

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