The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

5th Sunday in Lent March 17, 2013

 

Luke 20:9-20 Laying Claim of our Inheritance

 

Dear fellow redeemed,

 

Have you visited the web site: MissingMoney.com?

* They promise they can help you retrieve any personal assets which have gone missing.

If, for whatever reason, you, as of this date have some unclaimed money, they'll assist

you in securing it. And their searches and claiming are free.

* Many are surprised by how much money goes unclaimed.

It includes bank accounts and the contents of safe deposit boxes. People lose

sight of personal stocks, mutual funds, bonds and dividends, un-cashed checks.

* Also gone missing are insurance policies, CD's, trust funds and escrow accounts.

* Maybe you should check out MissingMoney.com. You never know!

You too might find something of some value. It's yours! You just have to claim it!

 

You know, God essentially is telling us the same thing in today's Gospel.

* "You have something missing in your life. You have no future.

But if you listen to me, your situation is sure to change.

I wish to give you a share of my inheritance in the Kingdom. It's yours to claim!"

* Or does laying claim of such an inheritance sound a wee bit presumptuous?

Shall we simply claim a place in heaven because we have it coming, and no one better get

in our way!

* You're right. That would be presumptuous; spoken as one who's already rejected Christ.

* Having said that, however, there is a right view regarding how we lay claim of our

inheritance. The wrong view is to acknowledge our own authority.

But the right view is to acknowledge God's authority.

 

That's why today's parable has been recorded.

* Christ first told it to a gathering of Jews which consisted partly of the religious leaders of

the day.

* The meaning is simple to interpret. God is the man who planted a vineyard and let it out

to tenants. And the tenants are the Jewish nation.

* God had entrusted Israel with his covenant of grace from the time of their deliverance to

Christ's time. The Israelites were given ample time to bear fruits of repentance and holy

lives.

* The servants sent to the tenants are the prophets from the time of Moses to John the

Baptist. They were sent to gather from God's people - fruits which indicated they were

repentant.

Unfortunately, the prophets were mistreated in each case and sent away empty-handed.

The people preferred trusting not in God's authority but a human authority.

* So what would happen next? Well, the rest of the parable concerned both the present and

what was about to happen. The son of the man owning the vineyard is Christ.

Would he be accepted? Would the people perhaps now bear fruits of repentance?

* Of course, we know it unfolds. The problem the scribes and the chief priests had is they

didn't want to give up their authority.

The people respected them, looking to them for spiritual direction in their lives.

* And the people didn't want to give up their works-righteous religion. They were quite

comfortable accepting the notion that they had rights to God's inheritance.

It all came down to their pretty deeds and their superior lives.

* It's very interesting. Jesus relates what the tenants finally said when the owner of the

vineyard sent his son. "This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours."

* Was this a story? Listen again to the last part of our reading.

"The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him that very hour, for they

perceived that he had told this parable against them." They wanted to kill him!

 

The scribes and chief priests fancied themselves as men of God.

In truth, they wanted to kill the heir, God's Son, believing they had "these rights".

* And nothing could prove more tragic. These religious leaders and a large majority of

Jews in Jesus' day never benefited from God's covenant of grace.

* They refused to see that there are no rights, no life, apart from the rights and life the Lord

gives us by his redeeming blood. There is no claim to God's inheritance apart from faith

in Christ, the cornerstone, the foundation of the one saving faith.

 

In America today we obviously don't have scribes or Chief priests or Pharisees.

* But we do have many in our secular society with the same mind set.

"Keep your Jesus to yourself!

I have authority as a human being to determine what is morally correct."

* Let me tell you what today's entitlement mentality consists of from a religious standpoint.

"I do not require God's approval when determining what my rights are!"

"God has no authority over me. I have the authority to decide what rights are valid and

what rights are not!"

* You've probably heard this past Tuesday that within Minnesota's House and Senate a

couple committees passed a gay "marriage" bill. This was despite strong testimony from

legal scholars, medical professionals, and concerned citizens.

* The gay activists say that redefining marriage will impact 515 rights and benefits.

The bill's next stop will be a vote in the House and Senate where legislators could

pass it into law without regard to every major poll which has shown that most Minnesotans

do not want marriage redefined.

* The same thing is happening as in Jesus' day. Learning what the Lord has to say on a

matter, people scheme. "This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be

ours!" "Let's determine how to shut him up, so that we may have our rights!"

 

Surely, you and I don't want to vote God out of our marriages and out of our lives.

But there are plenty of times we adopt the same mind set.

* "I don't need you to tell me I when I'm being inconsiderate or disrespectful . . .

You don't need to help me define 'a sexually pure and decent life' . . .

Enough with getting my neighbor's possessions 'in a dishonest way'! Who asked you? . . .

* "Keep it to yourself how my words might hurt my neighbor's reputation! . . .

Stop telling me I need to be in church more regularly!

I don't need your help to know when I cross the line!"

* It's interesting! We pride ourselves as being Lutheran. We believe that we "cannot by (our)

own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, (our) Lord or come to him."

We need the Holy Spirit.

* Really? You know, sometimes our pride can make us a bit two-faced.

We forget what else is involved in being a Lutheran. Just as we need help from the

outside coming to know our Savior, so do we need help from the outside coming to know

our sin.

* Be careful you don't shut out God's voice for too long.

Once we harden our heart, it won't matter who comes to us with the message to repent.

* We're going to believe, "I don't need outside help. I can repent all by myself!"

* Are you sure? Christ has this to say. "Abide in me . . . As the branch cannot bear fruit by

itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" (John 15:4).

 

It's a simple question. Does God have authority in your life or not?

* If so, how does he bring about fruit in your life? Does he sprinkle some magical dust

down from heaven? Does he zap you with a sense of love and good will?

* Or does he use fellow human beings; those who will confront you with your past, but will

also assure you, when you repent, that you're forgiven through Christ?

* Think about it. God's not going to suddenly appear before us in visible form and demand

from us the fruits which belong to him. That's not his style.

* He sends someone like ourselves. He sends us our parent, our pastor, that certain friend,

our fellow worker, our teacher, that relation of ours who can often be an irritation.

* Fruits of repentance, you see, consist of acknowledging two things. First, I acknowledge

that there's an authority over me, someone standing in for God, to whom I must answer.

* Secondly, I acknowledge that I've messed up royally. I'm deficient as a human being, for

I'm a sinner. And therefore I deserve God's judgment.

 

Granted, it's not an admission that comes naturally.

* God alone has the authority to set life's standards. And when people fall away, it is God

who has the authority to rescue our lives and determine how he will do so.

* Anyone who desires to lay claim to God's inheritance but rejects his Son will be

condemned. "Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls

on anyone, it will crush him."

* Apparently Jesus is changing the focus here from the cornerstone to the two stones used

in threshing or grinding wheat.

** One stone served as a flat surface on which the harvested stalks of grain were placed.

These stalks were hit against the rock to break the chaff from the wheat.

* Then the other stone, a grinding stone, was dragged over the stalks to further separate the

grain from the chaff. The chaff, reduced to fine particles or powder, would fly away like

dust in the wind.

* We're left with a picture of the Father's judgment.

As the chaff was separated from the grain, so are the unfruitful separated from the

repentant; those who truly offer God what is his.

 

Thank the Lord our future life does not depend on any personal authority we muster up.

As repentant sinners, we may lay claim of our inheritance by acknowledging God's authority.

* That's right. Not only does our Lord have the authority to condemn the unrepentant;

he has the authority to forgive. And he does it by shedding his own blood for sinners.

* Parables, as I mentioned last week, are stories that have something to teach everyone.

We don't get to decide whether or not this one has something to say to me.

* In some cases that may be a bit disarming. Other times it's extremely comforting.

It's curious when today's parable speaks of the owner of the vineyard who sent his son

whom he loved. God, of course, did the same thing.

* But there's a notable difference here.

In our parable, the father thinks to himself, "perhaps they will respect (my son)."

Maybe he'd be treated differently than the messengers sent before him.

* In real life, however, God knew very well that Jesus would be rejected like the rest of the

prophets, and in the end that he'd even be crucified.

* But that didn't stop God. He sent his only begotten Son, anyway.

It's because God sent his Son, not for his own sake. He sent Jesus for us.

* He sent him so that he might suffer in our place the punishment he had reserved for

sinners. He sent him so that we might have forgiveness in his Kingdom, and that we

might lay claim of our inheritance.

 

But maybe you're still uncomfortable with the word "claim."

* As far as you're concerned, it smacks of Protestant theology.

We certainly don't stand before God saying, "Okay, Lord, see my commitment to you?

See my undivided trust? You may now welcome me into your grace!"

* You're right! We don't claim our inheritance as though it's something our faith entitles us

to. Faith isn't some gift to God by which we prove to him our loyalty and sincere trust.

* Faith is God's gift to us, by which he permits us, even in our sinful condition, to gain

Christ; to gain his forgiveness and salvation.

 

However, as Christians we do claim our inheritance, making an appeal to the Father.

* We appeal not to our performance as a Christian but to Christ's performance as our Savior.

Listen to the words of St. Paul from today's epistle.

* He speaks of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ; "being found in him not having a

righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in

Christ." And then he speaks laying claim of his inheritance, saying "I press on to make

it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."

* It's true that we have no assertion to make before God; assuring him we're the real thing.

But we do make an assertion to our self and to the world.

* "I'm not entitled to God's inheritance, for I'm a sinner, unequivocally, from the day of my

conception to the day of my death. I have no authority of my own, no rights that I might

flash before God as I remind him of my moral and upright life.

* "But I may lay claim of my Lord's inheritance all the same.

For Jesus had the authority to save me from me sin. And that's just what he did when he

suffered and died for me that I might be his own and live under him in his kingdom.

 

You know, sometimes it may be difficult to claim that money that's gone missing.

* Let's say you drop a twenty dollar bill on your way into the super market.

Thirty seconds later you return to the same spot, only to witness someone walking by picking

up the same bill.

* Is he going to believe you when you inform him, "Oh, that's my twenty dollars.

I dropped it just a moment ago"? He just might consider you a bit presumptuous and ask

you to recite to him the serial number.

* There is nothing presumptuous, dear friends, about laying claim of our inheritance in

God's Kingdom. We do it every Sunday when we position ourselves before God to hear

his Gospel, or when we kneel at his altar to receive our Lord's body and blood.

* We do it every day when we remember our Baptism, when, having shared with our Lord

the fruits of repentance, we trust in our Savior for his grace and his forgiveness.

Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts in and minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.