Broken to Pieces / Luke 20:9-20 / Pr. Ted A. Giese preached by Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Sunday April 3rd 2022 / Season Of Lent / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Sermon Preached by Pastor Lucas Albrecht on behalf of Pastor Ted Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday April 3rd 2022: Season of Lent / Luke 20:9-20 "Broken to Pieces"
And [Jesus] began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But He looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on Him at that very hour, for they perceived that He had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched Him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch Him in something He said, so as to deliver Him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Have you ever been drying the dishes and accidentally dropped a glass, or a plate, or cup only to have it fall to the floor and break? As careful as you had been it just slipped out of your hands. Maybe it was a cup, or plate, or glass that you really loved. Something that meant a lot to you, maybe even something handed down to you from your family. It could be empty or full it doesn't matter, but picture a jar. There is an ancient Hebrew proverb, "Should the stone fall on the jar, woe to the jar! Should the jar fall on the stone, woe to the jar! In either case, woe to the jar!" Following His parable in today's Gospel reading Jesus quotes Psalm 118, when He says, “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone," Jesus says, "will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
The scribes and the chief priests know Psalm 118 well and they know how it goes, the part of the Psalm Jesus quotes goes like this, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." This part we've heard, but Psalm 118 continues saying, "This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Christ Jesus is our cornerstone, He is, was, and ever shall be their cornerstone too. The question at hand is whether the scribes and the chief priests will reject that stone or whether they will stand on its firm foundation and rejoice and be glad in it. When they look upon the Son of God will this Jesus be marvellous in their eyes? Will they see that His arrival at their gate, at their door, is the LORD's doing or will they mistake Him for something He is not? What will they do? And today, what if Jesus comes speaking to you something you do not like, what will you do?
Last week’s parable of the lost sons, the prodigal son, in fact all three of those parables about the sheep and shepherd, the coin and the woman, and the sons and the father were told before Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. We will celebrate Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem next Sunday and it will start our Holy Week observances. This week’s parable of the vineyard and the wicked tenants is one Jesus taught after His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. In fact Jesus teaches this parable in the Temple during the week on the Tuesday leading up to His Good Friday Crucifixion. A key element of Luke’s Gospel account of Jesus teaching this parable is how our reading ends, “The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on [Jesus] at that very hour, for they perceived that He had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched Him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch Him in something He said, so as to deliver Him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.”
Again how do people respond when faced with the truth? That same week in His prayers Jesus would say to His heavenly Father, “Your word is truth,” and Saint John calls Jesus The Word of God. With His disciples on that Thursday Night Jesus will call Himself, “The Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” So the question is how do people respond when they are faced with Jesus, when they are faced with The Word of God?
The parable itself points to the very events that are unfolding that Holy Week. It starts with a man planting a vineyard. Now the scribes and the chief priests will have many Bible passages committed to memory and stored up in their hearts and one of these in which a vineyard is mentioned will be from the prophet Isaiah:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
judge between Me and My vineyard.
What more was there to do for My vineyard,
that I have not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?
What is the vineyard in this passage from the prophet Isaiah? Isaiah tells us just verses later that, “the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant planting,” so when Jesus standing in the Temple in Jerusalem tells a parable of a man who planted a vineyard the learned and highly esteemed among the people in particular know exactly what He is speaking of. These wild grapes are likewise the wicked tenants who over the years have beaten and sent away empty-handed all the prophets God had sent to them. They have refused to give to God what is His, what belongs to Him from His vineyard keeping for themselves and seeking always for all time to keep it for themselves disrespecting all who were sent to them. Jesus then, who had just entered the city of Jerusalem to the cheers of Hosanna! “Please, Save us!,” is the very one of whom the owner of the vineyard of the parable says, “I will send My beloved Son; perhaps they will respect Him.”
As we move into Holy Week listen and see, do these men respect this Christ Jesus sent by God the Father or do they disrespect Him? How do they react to Him when they find themselves face to face with Jesus? The parable Jesus tells that Tuesday foreshadows what will come as the week unfolds. The parable continues with the wicked tenant’s response to the owner of the vineyard’s Son explaining how “when the tenants saw Him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill Him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw Him out of the vineyard and killed Him.” In other words, “let us kill Him in order that the inheritance may become ours!” The climax of the parable has been reached Jesus tells His murders exactly what they are on the point of doing. For their part they are keeping it under cover. Jesus however tells them openly to their faces before the assembled crowd of Jewish people who had come for the Passover. Jesus and the high priests and the lawyers of the people stand face to face, the wild grapes – the wicked tenants with the beloved son of the owner of the vineyard. These are the ones “who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” To these the prophet Isaiah says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” These are the ones that would rather kill Jesus than look upon His face, would rather make His mouth mute in death than listen to what He says all so they can carry on living as they like with impunity. They believe themselves to be the corner stone and Jesus to be the jar, but in actuality it is the other way around.
We live in such times. Our ‘scribes’ and ‘high priests’ are of a different sort and they are legion, everywhere you look you see people who would rather Jesus dead than alive, who would rather Him silent that speaking, who would prefer God’s Word to vanish in a puff of smoke than face it brilliant fire of Truth, all so they can carry on living as they like with impunity. Each of us when we claim to be wiser or more clever than God’s Word are guilty of this. Everyone who fails to listen to God’s Word in order to do as they like are guilty of setting themselves above God, above Jesus.
The Word of God and everything that comes with it, including the Ten Commandments, is the great leveler. This applies to all people and when the morality of a people in grounded on God’s Law and the Forgiveness of Christ Jesus than money and status and gender and age or privilege are leveled out because a rich or powerful man or woman of any age can equally break God’s Law and can equally receive the forgiveness of His only begotten Son Jesus. Therefore be warned, if you or someone you love, or someone you know, or even someone who hates you as an enemy thinks themselves wiser, smarter, more loving, more caring, more forward thinking than Jesus they will break when they fall upon Jesus. Because this Jesus is who He says He is : He is the stone that the builders rejected who has become the cornerstone, and everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.
When we drop a glass, or a plate, or cup and it breaks upon the floor into pieces we often just throw it away. We might grieve over it if it was something especially special to us but we don’t often seek to repair it. When it comes to those who in there sin fall upon Jesus and are broken into a million pieces Jesus, our Cornerstone, is the one who can by His shed blood, bind us up again in forgiveness and make us whole. Psalm 147 promises that “The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” If you are broken because of your sin, rest in Christ Jesus. At the cross all your sins were cast on Jesus and Jesus is greater than your sin. At the cross it is your sin that is broken into a million little pieces along with the rest of you, but when Jesus puts you back together in forgiveness He doesn’t add that sin back in, your sin is swept away. Your sin is thrown out but you dear ones you are not. I leave you with the same words I left you with last week, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The one who refuses to have their bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander put away from them by Jesus will keep it for themselves. Those who reject the forgiveness of God in Christ will suffer what Jesus warns in the parable, they will be brought to ruin, destroyed, and be put out of the vineyard. Dear ones God the Father in Christ Jesus His beloved Son has given the vineyard to you. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Concordia Journal, Winter 2016, Volume 42, Number 1, Concordia Seminary 2015, pg 72.
 Psalm 118:22-24
 John 17:17
 John 1:1
 John 14:6
 Isaiah 5:1–4
 Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, Augsburg Publishing House 1961, Pg 980.
 Isaiah 5:20–21
 Psalm 147:2–3
 Ephesians 4:31–32
(A note about the embedded video in this post: When the Holy Spirit inspired the words given to the Prophet Isaiah there were no modern Palestinians or Israelis there was only a broken people among the Children of Israel, the Norther kingdom of Isreal and the Southern kingdom of Juda. At the begining of the video the talented but troubled Sinead O'Connor injects a little modern political commentary into her rather beautiful song drawn from these words of Scripture.)
Photo Credits: Main Photo detail of Hand Reaching for Broken Mirror from pexels; detail of Broken Plate from pexels; detail of Stone Work, the Old City in Jerusalem from unsplash; detail Corner of Building from unsplash; Jesus in the Temple by the Painter James Tissot from picryl; detail of Vineyard from unsplash; Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Painter James Tissot from picryl; Potter Making Ceramics from pexels; Grapes in the Vineyard from unsplash; detail of Broken Dish Repaired with Gold from Wikimedia commons.