Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday March 13th 2016 - / Luke 20:9-20 / Jars of Glass & The Cornerstone
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday March 13th Lent 5 - / Luke 20:9-20 / Jars of Glass and The Cornerstone
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. Imagine for yourself a glass jar. 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 He 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?
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with Me." Saint John heard these words from the lips of the resurrected and ascended Jesus. John was told to write them down to send to the Church in Laodicea, words for a lukewarm people, for Christians whose works had shown them to be "neither cold nor hot." Jesus laments about them saying, "Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."
Strange then that those first words, the ones I first spoke to you, where Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with Me," are taken to be words about conversion, many evangelicals will say that those words are about making a decision for Jesus, about opening the door of your heart and believing in Jesus, about becoming a Christian. Yet Jesus tells John to write those very words to people who are already Christians. Strange. You'd think that they would have know better, these Christians in the Church in Laodicea. Why have they closed the door of their heart to Jesus? These lukewarm Laodicean? Do they not know who Jesus is? Do they not know the one who stands at the door and knocks?
Next week we begin Holy Week with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus rides into the city on the back of a donkey and, "as He rode along, [those who were with Him] spread their cloaks on the road. As He was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” In the midst of that triumphal entry Jesus looks upon Jerusalem and weeps and when He enters the city through its gates, when He comes through its mighty doors, He goes to the Temple-His Father's House-and drives out the money changers saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” In less than a week this Jesus, who came to the door of Jerusalem and knocked, will be rejected by the scribes and the chief priests and He will be nailed to the cross. Treated shamefully. Crucified.
So it was that in the days leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and death that Jesus stood in the Temple, stood in Jerusalem telling today's parable, during the time we now call Holy Week, the parable about the wicked tenants of the vineyard. And it's safe to say that the tenants of the vineyard are not lukewarm. In the parable Jesus clearly paints them as violent and covetous, greedy men. These tenants also are not ignorant of the man who planted the vineyard, they know him. When that man sends his servants to knock at the door, his servants are not welcomed into his vineyard by the tenants, the servants and the tenants do not sit down together and break bread, there is no feast but fists and braking bones as the wicked tenants beat and treat the man's servants shamefully wounding them and sending them away empty handed. So it is that the parable Jesus tells is coming to its apex, its zenith, its climax, in its telling - as it's being told.
In Jesus' parable the man who planted the vineyard is the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel. He had sent His prophets and as they came to the gates of Jerusalem, as they came to the doors of the Temple, the wicked tenants, the scribes and the chief priests and the selfish and evil untrusting kings of the past killed these servants of the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel. Servants like the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and Amos. Again these tenants - the scribes and the chief priests along with their wicked kings - were men who should have known better. The gates of Jerusalem, the doors of the Temple should have been flung wide open and the servants of the Lord, these servants - these prophets should have been greeted and a feast should have been made ready, and celebration should have been had. But no, there was not. These prophets came to collect the fruits of repentance but they were greeted by men who instead broke the 1st commandment by treating the gift of the vineyard, the gift of the Holy Land, of Jerusalem, of the Temple, as if it was theirs and theirs alone, as if they the tenants were not stewards, as if the vineyard belonged to them and not to the one who gave it. In treating the servants of the owner of the vineyard shamefully they had likewise treated him shamefully. By extension they were treating the owner shamefully.
The Christian who hear what happens next in Jesus' parable knows what Jesus is alluding to when he says, "Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do?" [these wicked tenants have sent all my servants away empty-handed and treated them shamefully and violently, I know,] "I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’" As Jesus tells this parable standing in the Temple you can almost hear the crowd! They cry out "No! No! Oh owner of the vineyard don't send your son! They won't respect him! They had no respect for your servants!"
When we hear this part of the parable we know that it is Jesus who has been sent and it Jesus - the Son of God the Father who took on being the servant of all - who has gone up to Jerusalem looking for the fruits of repentance from the wicked tenants. We know that the scribes and the chief priests perceived correctly that the parable was about them. And we know what they are about to do to the Son of the Owner of the vineyard. Earlier in Luke's Gospel Jesus had looked out towards Jerusalem and laments, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" The scribes and the chief priests were amongst the ones who were not willing to be gathered in under Christ Jesus. Will they plot to kill Jesus? Yes they will. By the end of Holy Week they will have. We know this because we know the end of the story as we hear Jesus tell the parable.
Have you ever wondered why in the parable it would be that the tenants upon seeing the owner of the vineyards son coming, would say, "to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ Why would they think this? Why would they think that if "they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him," that they would end up having the vineyard to themselves? In the context of the day such tenants would have thought that the owner of the vineyard had died and that the son was coming to collect his inheritance. They would have thought if the son died then they could, as long time tenants, plead squatters rights and perhaps have the vineyard for themselves. The irony for the scribes and the chief priests is that Jesus in His death and resurrection was coming to give His inheritance to all who believed in Him, all who trust in Him.
In the epistle of 1 John it says, "No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He made to us—eternal life."
When Jesus stands at the door and knocks, when He comes to the gate of those who already know Him and they reject His coming what then will happen? For you today, for me, when Jesus comes - when He comes telling us His parables, when we hear His word, we are not to reject His word but embrace it even when His word, as found in Scripture, is hard against what the World preaches. Sin, Death, the Devil, the World, fell on this blessed Cornerstone at the cross and when they fell on Him like a jar of glass they were broken. At the cross you fall upon Jesus and every bit of you is broken there: including your pride, your anger, your lust, your greed, your lies, your disobedience, and all of mine too - but Jesus will not leave you broken. "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" If not today, if not tomorrow, without a doubt on The Last Day, on the day of your resurrection, He will put you together perfectly. Sin, Death, the Devil, and this World as we know it will be left broken into little pieces, it will all be swept away, but you will not be swept away, you will be whole and without blemish presented to God the Father in perfection along with the whole church. The resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus from His heavenly throne said to the disciple John, "'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also He said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' ... 'It is done!' [Jesus says] 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be His God and He will be My son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
Dear ones, today, tomorrow and each day until The Last Day comes Jesus gives us a place to stand - it is not on ourselves, not on our own wisdom apart from God's Word, not on the World but on Him. He is our firm foundation. He is our cornerstone, let us rejoice and be glad in Him. Again, "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" Jesus Christ who being found in human form, had humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, calls out to you who know Him, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with Me." - Then the Owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send My beloved Son; perhaps they will respect Him.’ 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.
March 20th - Palm Sunday 9 & 11am
March 24th - Maundy Thursday 7:30pm
March 25th - Good Friday 10am
 Concordia Journal, Winter 2016, Volume 42, Number 1, Concordia Seminary 2015, pg 72.
 Psalm 118:22-24
 Revelation 3:20
 Revelation 3:15-16
 Luke 19:36-38
 Luke 19:41-44, "And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
 Luke 19:46
 Mark 9:35, "And [Jesus] sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, 'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.'"
 Luke 13:34
 Concordia Journal, Winter 2016, Volume 42, Number 1, pg 72.
 Psalm 27:14
 Ephesians 5:27
 Revelation 21:5-8
 Philippians 2:8