Lent 5C (Lk 20:9–20)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO


We’re continuing our Lenten journey today. Last week we lessened our Lenten repentance. Lightened our purple to rose. We rejoiced that God our heavenly Father receives sinners back no strings attached because of Jesus. Today we continue to follow Jesus as He preaches and teaches His way to Calvary. His Word goes before Him. It happens as He says. We follow His Word, and we end up wandering into a vineyard. That’s right. A vineyard. A parable about a vineyard.

(2. Jesus parables about Himself.)

Now, Jesus preaches this parable while He’s in Jerusalem for the last time. He parables all the time. It’s almost Jesus’ favorite way of preaching. Now, we all know the basic definition of a parable: “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” Well, ok. That’s not a bad definition, but it often leads us into all sorts of trouble when it comes to the parables. We turn them into Aesop’s Fables. Stories that have some principle for us to learn and do, and so today’s would mean: “You better give God the best fruit in your life” or whatever else. But this way of thinking makes the parables about us. We even think Jesus told these parables to tell us some heavenly truth or principle in a way that we can understand. But Jesus is very clear in Luke 8: He tells parables so that “seeing they may not see and hearing they may not understand.” He tells parables so that people don’t quite get it. Besides all that, this parable isn’t about us at all! Even the “scribes and the chief priests” had figured that out. “They knew He spoke this parable against them.”

So, what is this parable about? Well, Jesus parables about a vineyard not only to preach against the “scribes and chief priests” but to preach about Himself. That’s what all His parables are about: Him, our need for Him, how He saves us. This parable is no different. Jesus parables about His death, His resurrection, and His gifting of salvation. Those tenants “threw [the Son] out of the vineyard and killed him.” Jesus was cast out of Jerusalem and crucified. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus was rejected, killed, but now, being raised from the dead, He’s the cornerstone. He delivers that salvation to His vineyard, He gives “the vineyard to others,” to faithful tenants who will tend the Master’s Vineyard, giving it proper food and not hoarding the fruit for themselves but truly giving it back to the Master, to the Lord.

(1. Jesus parables about the Father’s love for you.)

Now, when it comes to the parable of the Vineyard here, Jesus parables about Himself, but He also parables about the Father’s love for you. You see, the Vineyard is His Church, His people—not just Old Testament times, but you, dear Christian. For we Gentiles have been grafted in by faith—all children of Abraham by our trust in Christ—just as Paul says in Romans 11 and Galatians 3. To His people Yahweh sent His prophets. He sent them to reap the fruit from His people, but the leaders of the people and the people themselves didn’t want them. Because of this bad fruit grew, as Jesus says in Isaiah 5, “What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes?” To them the prophets are sent, not just once or twice, but again and again the Lord sent prophets to preach His Word, to preach the coming Savior, to preach forgiveness in that Messiah who is to come. But all were treated shamefully, rejected, sent away, or worse.

Then the Father goes all in. He sends His Son “Surely, they’ll respect Him!” No dice. They kill Him after throwing Him out of Jerusalem, just as Jesus parabled, “the scribes and the chief priests sought to lay their hands on Him at that very hour.” So they “sent spies to entrap His Word so they could deliver Him to the rule and authority of the governor.” So the Son dies and rises, and then He turns over the tenancy to faithful tenants, His apostles and pastors to deliver the goods. To prune and tend the precious vineyard of the Lord where you grow, dear Christian. Their job is to deliver the salvation of the Son, to deliver what’s needed to produce good fruit. The vineyard is the inheritance where you’ve already been planted by the trust in Christ given you by the work of the tenants. There’s no doubt about it:


We continued our Lenten journey today. We follow Jesus as He preaches and teaches His way to Calvary. His Word goes before Him. It happens as He says. He dies. He rises. We follow his Word, and we end up wandering into a vineyard. A parable about a vineyard. There’s no turning Jesus’ parables into Aesop’s fables. They’re not moral lessons for us. Jesus delivers Himself and His Father’s love through our parable today. He preaches to us that He dies for such things as turning the parables to suit our own way of things. Jesus has His way. His parable preaching Way. He delivers to us the news, the great joy, the preaching, the parable that we are the Father’s Vineyard. For us He sent the prophets, for us He sent His Son, for us the vineyard is turned over to faithful men who deliver the Lord’s goods. They deliver Jesus’ salvation. They water the plants to give them life. They prune with the Spirit-filled Word. They purify with the absolution. They fertilize with the Son’s body and blood. The Father does all of this so that we may live forever with Him in the eternal vineyard, the eternal garden and kingdom of paradise.


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