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Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 3, 2022

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Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 3, 2022

Death stalks this parable, flaunting shameful abuse.  This parable more than the others speaks pointedly of the death and abuse awaiting Jesus.  The tenants of the parable are obvious stand-ins for the chief priests, scribes, elders (Lk. 20:1) who have joined the crowd Jesus is teaching in the Temple.  The son of the vineyard owner is obviously Jesus.  Just as the son of the vineyard is sent to those wicked tenants and they lay hands on him and kill him, so too is Jesus sent by the Father to those treacherous religious leaders who will lay hands on him and kill him (Lk. 9:44; 20:19).

Lest we begin to feel righteous in comparison to the addressees of this parable, those religious leaders—chief priests, scribes, and elders.  We must remember, as a colleague of mine has said, “Today, we are those religious leaders.”  Today, this parable points to us no matter our place in the religious hierarchy, whether we hold the public office or whether we hold our office by virtue of our baptism.  Death stalks this parable… the death of Jesus… the death of Jesus at the hands of today’s religious leaders.  We have met them, and they are us.

You see, sin is more than a matter of disobedience:  a little cursing in the name of God, a little disrespect of the Sabbath, dishonoring father and mother, and all that mistreatment of the neighbors.  Sin is more than a matter of idolatry and unfaithfulness.  Certainly, all this is terrible behavior and God condemns it.  But the nasty root of our sin is to covet what belongs to God… to covet it so mightily that we’ll kill the Son of God and claim his inheritance.  The Son, the rejected cornerstone, is deadly to those that fall on it and deadly to those on whom it falls (vs. 18).  Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, is resurrected out of our murderous sin.  We, however, die… we will break to pieces or be crushed when the Rock of our Salvation (Ps. 18:45; 62:6; 95:1 passim) confronts us with his presence.  That he is our resurrected Lord means that he once was dead, and his death took place at the hands of sinful men and women—the religious leaders of the day… that is us in our day.  But take heart!  Jesus has mercy on his betrayers!  Jesus forgives even those who lay hands on him and kill him.  Why be content with Jesus forgiving the little sins of disobedience?  Give him your great sins of unbelief, idolatry, and deicide.  Great sins demand a great Savior and Jesus is the greatest of all!

Table Talk:  Discuss the tendency to deal with disobedience rather than idolatry or deicide.  Pray:  Father, make me such a sinner as to be worthy of Christ’s great salvation.  Amen

Luke 20:9-20

9 And he 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. 10 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. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him. 14 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. 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others. When they heard this, they said, Surely not! 17 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?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.

19 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. 20 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.

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