Patiently God waits for us with his grace!

October 8, 2023

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

Matthew 21:33-43

Matthew 21:33-43

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

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

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

A thermometer measures temperature. It can be used to tell if someone has a fever, or it can tell you whether the brisket is ready. A thermometer is helpful when you take someone to the doctor after seeing that they have a fever, or when you pull food off the heat source when it has reached temperature. If you do not listen to a thermometer, then you might have to suffer in the ER or throw out burnt food. You might get impatient watching a thermometer, but with patience, an accurate measurement is helpful.

Often, patience is synonymous with gardening. In our Old Testament reading from Isaiah 5, the prophet Isaiah sang about a vineyard planted by God:

1 “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”

Isaiah sang praise to God for his vineyard. And from the description of all the work God put into his vineyard, we expect it to yield a bumper crop, but it yielded only bad fruit. Then, Isaiah explained his song a few verses later, 7 “The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” Isaiah knew the work and blessings God had poured into Israel. He also saw the people worship false gods, trust in worldly powers and boast in themselves. He saw the bright future of God’s vineyard turned to darkness because the people were evil. After, generations of bad crops, God’ patience ran out for the Northern Kingdom of Israel and they were overtaken in 722 B.C. During that time, Isaiah served as a prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, which God continued to be patient with providing prophets like Isaiah to call them to repentance and to turn back to the Lord.

At the time of Jesus, people continued to test God’s patience. Last week, we heard Jesus’ authority questioned by the religious leaders and his response to them with a parable distinguishing between those who walk in the way of righteousness by faith and the unrepentant unbelieving who do not. Our Gospel reading today from Matthew 21, is the second parable Jesus told them. This parable picks up on the imagery from our Old Testament reading from Isaiah 5. Jesus said,

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.”

Again, we have the picture of a fully prepared vineyard poised to yield a bumper crop, but with this illustration the focus is not on the fruit, but the tenants caring for the vineyard. Jesus went on, 35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.” Those listening to Jesus tell this parable would have been shocked at the tenants. It would be like someone viciously attacking a rental car attendant for taking back the rental car. 37 “Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. 38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” As Jesus went on, those listening would have been horrified and asking where the authorities were to stop these wicked tenants. And, again for us today, it would be like someone killing the son of the owner of a rental car facility thinking that would make it theirs. Then, Jesus finished with a question for the religious leaders, 40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” They hardly had to think as they responded with the call for justice for the wicked, and for the landowner to find new honorable tenants to rent the vineyard who will give the fair share of the harvest to the landowner. Then, 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Jesus told this parable to condemn the religious leaders listening to him. They were the tenants who were meant to tend God’s people by teaching them about the Savior. Instead, they taught manmade rules and embodied self-righteousness; they rejected the Son of the owner of vineyard. Furthermore, they did not listen to these words of warning and a few days after Jesus spoke these parables to them, they were part of the crowd shouting, “Crucify!”

You know which character represents you in Jesus’ parable. You know how much work, excitement, time, etc. you put into watching the OU vs. Texas game yesterday, or any one of the other games yesterday. You also know when the last time was that you put that much work, excitement, time, etc. into something involving God. Whether it was worship, Bible study, personal devotions, encouragement someone who is going through a difficult season of life, teaching your own children about the wonders of God’s creation, their Savior Jesus, the gift of faith and power of the Holy Spirit living inside them, etc.

You know which character represents you in Jesus’ parable. You know how fiercely you have fought to hide that dirty sinful secret appearing so godly on the outside, but inside you test God’s patience by indulging in sin. Or perhaps you have grown so bold in testing God’s patience that you sin publicly; you are the life of the party decrying government officials rather than praying for them in their weakness. Perhaps your colorful language is legend on the playground, the practice field, social media and in the breakroom. Or maybe the adult beverage industry owes you for keeping them afloat while others are sinking in a difficult economic time. Or maybe your family is crumbling in your stubborn rejection to hear God’s law and repent. The devil lulls us into a false sense of security in God’s patience so that we grow comfortable with sin thinking we can always just run back to God for his forgiveness, but a heart that loves sin more than God is in danger. And testing God’s patience is dangerous because you do not know how long you need God to be patient. In other words, you do not know when your last day on earth will be or when Jesus is coming back to judge the world. Test God’s patience too long and you may be lost.

God’s law hits us hard. When our sins are revealed, it hits harder than anyone from the starting lineup of Texas or OU. When it is clear we have sinfully tested God’s patience; his patience remains to show us his love and forgiveness. Again, we hear from our Gospel reading from Matthew 21, 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?’” Jesus quoted from Psalm 118 that prophesied the religious leaders and many others rejecting him. It is marvelous that God would work through our evil ways to save us. Patiently, God watched generations kill prophets who came to preach repentance and turn the people back to God. Generations killed prophets who reminded the people of God’s power, love, mercy and promise of the Savior. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day rejected Jesus and he was crucified. Yet, Jesus expected this and was ready to face the cross. At the cross, the greatest rivalry in history faced off and Jesus defeated sin, death and the devil. Through the resurrection, you are guaranteed eternal life in heaven. God has made sure to preserve the message of his sacrifice and resurrection in Scripture for you to hear and believe. And the beginning and ending verse of Psalm 118 are words that may be very familiar to you, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Patiently, God continues to be good; our Lord has, is and will take care of all you need.

Patiently, we wait to experience the fullness of God’s grace to us in heaven. In our New Testament reading from Philippians 3, Paul wrote:

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.

You and I are not yet free from the struggle against sin; we are not in heaven yet. Yet, we have the certainty of going there. Until then, we are encouraged to move forward and grow in our maturity as Christians. We are encouraged not to test God’s patience but give thanks for his patience with us. We are also called to recognize God’s patience with those in our lives. All those in your life who are still alive need to hear the outcome of Jesus’ battle and victory to save all people. You are called to share the good news that regardless of the outcome of a football game, Jesus wins. Regardless of a political outcome, Jesus rules. Regardless of your relationship status, Jesus remains faithful to you. Regardless of what you are caught in, struggling with, worried about, God patiently waits with his unchanging grace.

You might get impatient watching a thermometer, but with patience, an accurate measurement is helpful. God’s Word acts like a thermometer. You might not like God’s law showing you your sin and testing God’s patience, but God also tells us that Jesus has saved us from all our sins through his death and resurrection. Regardless of how long you have been testing God’s patience, God waits patiently for you with his grace and forgiveness through Jesus. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Psalm 118:1). Patiently God waits for us with his grace. Amen.

Recent Sermons

Lamb-in-Grass

When you are tested see what God provides!

YrB-Lent-RethinkingReligion-English-Title-SocialPost-Square

Rethinking Religion: Trials, Tests and Temptations

gavel

God On Trial Exercised Perfect, Holy Restraint