Sermon / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Season of Pentecost Sunday September 24th 2017 - / Matthew 20:1-16 / Peter's Question - "What then will we have?"
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday September 24th 2017: Pentecost / Matthew 20:1-16 "Peter’s Question – “What then will we have”"
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the labourers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 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.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
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 walked into the middle of a conversation and at first you didn’t understand completely what the conversation was about? On the surface you get the general idea but you have to listen and maybe even ask a question to find out what the context is and why the conversation is happening at all? Today’s parable from Jesus isn’t just floating in space … no it’s part of a larger conversation. A conversation that started with a question: Peter as spokesman for his brother disciples first says to Jesus, “we have left everything and followed you,” then Peter asks Jesus on behalf of the 12, “What then will we have?” The question is laced with anxiousness … lurking behind it is a host of other questions: “What will be our reward; will it be more than we can possible imagine? Will we be compensated for what we left behind?’ What we left behind to follow You?”
Why did Peter ask his initial question? What prompted Peter to speak up for the disciples? Before Peter asked the question “a [young] man came up to [Jesus], saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And [Jesus] said to him, “Why do you ask Me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to [Jesus], “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (you can almost hear the gears turning in the heads of the disciples … hang on Matthew says ‘did I not walk away from my tax collectors booth at the call of Jesus? Di I not leave all those lucrative kickbacks? Did I not leave everything behind?’ James and John and Andrew and Peter ‘did I not leave my fishing boats and my nets and at the call of Jesus? Did I not leave everything behind to follow Him?’
I’m sure they were all piecing it together and as they were thinking about all this and how they had done the very thing that Jesus said this rich young man should do,) [Jesus continues to speak to them saying] “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
And with these words spoken by Jesus, “many who are first will be last, and the last first” it is as though Jesus turns a great key in a mighty lock and swing wide open the gates to the kingdom of heaven. To Peter who asked on behalf of the disciples, “What then will we have?” What will we have at the end of our labour Jesus then tells him and all of them the parable of the master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. Jesus told them how, “after agreeing with the labourers for a denarius a day, [the master of the house] sent them into his vineyard. All day long the master of the house found men to work and sent them into the vineyard; all day long he offered them the really the same wage for their work, what seems right, “a denarius a day.” Even in the 11th hour in the last hour of work the master of the house offered them “a denarius a day,” what seems right, for their work. Everyone accepted the terms and in the end as they were paid their wage, the last being paid first, the first workers seeing them receive the full days wages begin to have thoughts corrupted by greed, they don’t think ‘well, shouldn’t it be way less for them’ no for them they begin to think, ‘wow, for me it should be way more!’ they imagine that because they had worked longer and harder they should receive more. And when they did not, how upset were they? How bent out of shape? As Jesus tells His parable you can almost hear Peter’s question ringing in Peter’s ears, in the ears of all the disciples “What then will we have?” What will we have at the end of our labour? Remember Jesus, “we have left everything and followed you.” … and how does Jesus end His parable?
“Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 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.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
When Jesus called Peter from his fishing nets to follow Him, Jesus didn’t say follow me and on the Last Day at the Resurrection of the Dead you will “sit on [one of] twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” … no Jesus simply said to Peter and Peter’s brother Andrew “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [And] Immediately [Peter and Andrew] left their nets and followed [Jesus].”
With this parable Jesus shifted the discussion away from payment for labour to the grace and generosity of the master of the house, the generosity of God the Father, Jesus’ Father in whose House are many rooms. Jesus is saying do not be anxious about the generosity of your true Master, don’t by anxious about what you will have in the end. In fact by extension don’t be anxious about anything, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Work the work you have been given to work and trust the one for whom you truly work, trust the Lord, trust God and you will be satisfied in the end. Jesus says, “do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
If you are riddled with anxiousness over what will be yours in the end? If you worry about what you will have in the end, fear not your Heavenly Father is full of generosity. If your anxiousness has grown into coveting, if it’s lined with greed and fueled by a desire to have more than your neighbour (whether on this side of life or on the other side of life at the end of the day’s labours when you are about to enter fully through the gates of the kingdom of heaven) if this is you, repent of this sin and turn to the generosity of God and remember Jesus His son who worked, who laboured perfectly without fault in the vineyard of His Father; Jesus who ought to have received the highest wage, the best and most abundant salary for His efforts received instead the wage that was coming to you in your sin, He received the wages of sin which is death: He was paid with death upon the cross so that you would be paid with life, so that in the 11th hour at The End of The Day when you reach out your hand for the day’s wages, no matter how long or how hard you worked, or how short or how little you worked you would receive not death but eternal life.
Eternal life is God’s to give, in Christ Jesus by the blood of His Son, the blood of righteousness that covers all sins and makes them clean, God gives you what He has to give, Eternal Life. As He puts it in your hand, hear your God and Master say, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’” … when we like Peter ask, “What then will we have?” stop and say, ‘dear Lord forgive me, give me eyes to see Your generosity, ears to hear it, and a new heart to turn to my neighbour that I might show your generosity to them.”
“For a day in Your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” 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.
 Matthew 19:27
 Matthew 19:16-30
 Matthew 4:19-20
 Matthew 6:34
 Matthew 6:25-27
 Psalm 84:10