REAL DANGER – Rejecting / Neglecting the Gospel

Download PDF – Lent 5 2019

Luke 20:9–19 (CSB)

Now he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the farmers so that they might give him some fruit from the vineyard. But the farmers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent yet another servant, but they beat that one too, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third, but they wounded this one too and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenant farmers saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So 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 kill those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”
But when they heard this they said, “That must never happen!”

17 But he looked at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of this Scripture:,
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone?,
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it falls, it will shatter him.”

19 Then the scribes and the chief priests looked for a way to get their hands on him that very hour, because they knew he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.

 

Dear fellow redeemed: Last week we had the wonderful opportunity to consider Christ’s own account of how He welcomes repentant sinners to Himself.  The parable of the Lost Son (the Gracious Father) certainly reminds us that no matter what, we can turn to God and know that He welcomes us.  No matter what burdens your conscience, no matter what iniquity grieves you, you can be assured that before God your repentance will be met with mercy and forgiveness.

Never despise this invitation, for God in His mercy warns that, if rejected, this preaching unto repentance will not always be there, calling us.  As Isaiah says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call to him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6, CSB) nd Paul reiterates it, “For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2, CSB)

So cherish …

 

THE SAVING GOSPEL-

DON’T DESPISE IT WHEN YOU HAVE IT

  1. The Jews’ History – Our history
  2. Total Destruction – Broken or Crushed
  3. Back to the Lord’s Promises

 

  1. The Jews’ History – Our History

In a nutshell, Jesus recounts the history of the Jews.  Grace after grace had been showered on them, and yet they despised it and rejected it.  We could go on about how the Jews have continued to reject the Christ, and have been left desolate, but we need to remember that it was not the fact that they were Jews that is important – what they did has been done by individuals, families, and peoples over and over again. Some would say that western civilization, which was built on Biblical truths, is now forsaking them.

But in Jesus’ say the Jewish nation, ethnic Israel, was the subject of his parable. First Jesus introduces the vineyard.  This has long been a picture of Israel, as Isaiah says, “For the vineyard of the Lord of Armies is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah, the plant he delighted in. ….” (Isaiah 5:7, CSB)

The tenants are those who receive the benefits of the vineyard.  This includes everything that comes of being the chosen people of God, including their very existence as a nation.  The tenants thought that they could have it all, and that they could claim their nation not as God’s but as their own, and still have the benefits.

In our day the analogy is the idea that all who benefit from the blessings of God upon the hitherto Christian nations of the world can reject Him as Lord, reject His word, and reject His mercy and Grace and still enjoy the benefits of His Grace.  Remember, “Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord— the people he has chosen to be his own possession!” (Psalm 33:12, CSB)

So the vineyard is Israel, rejecting the teachers and prophets of the truth, who come from God looking for the fruits of faith. But if the vineyard is Israel (or in our day, the outwardly Christian nations and institutions), then what is the fruit that the Lord is looking for?

John the Baptist was one of these prophets. What did he say? “He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones.” (Luke 3:7–8, CSB)

Repentance and faith are the work of the Holy Spirit, and that new life of repentance and faith shows: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.” (Galatians 5:22–23, CSB)

These are what we owe Christ, and what all who believe in Him produce in their Christian lives.  These are the RESULTS of being made Christ’s own, of being given the gift of faith.  This is the life that is really full of joy.  And not coincidentally, these virtues, (not government programs) lead to real prosperity.

And who is it who comes to find faith and the fruits of faith?  Who are the servants who are sent to proclaim the goodness of the Lord and find faith in the hearers?  All the prophets God sent to Israel, and by analogy, all true ministers of the Lord, who proclaim His word faithfully.

And how are they treated by this Jewish nation, and analogously, but Chinos – Christians in name only?  Abused, rejected, and sent away empty-handed.  10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the farmers so that they might give him some fruit from the vineyard. But the farmers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent yet another servant, but they beat that one too, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third, but they wounded this one too and threw him out.

The Greek phrase about beating the servants means “tear off the skin.”  This is a picture of real outrages – of sorrow, and pain and death suffered by faithful witnesses for Christ.

What a picture this is!  Shameful treatment is seen in the persecution of faithful pastors and preachers, but also the deaf ear turned toward those who set forth God’s word to them.  THEY decide they don’t agree with it, as though it is just another human opinion. And don’t forget those who are persecuted in the Muslim nations for their faith in Christ!

But surely people will heed God’s own son.  13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him.’

This specifically refers to the rejection of Christ by the Jews. How can there be a greater witness to the truth of God than the One who came from heaven and ascended back into heaven? We can fault the Jews, but should we? There is application for us too. For many, “Christ” is merely an article of punctuation, a word to throw into a conversation when a poor vocabulary can provide nothing else.  And what He says – a message of repentance, life, and salvation is treated with less reverence than shown to Dr. Phil or Oprah.

All over the world people are acting like the church is not Christ’s but theirs.  What shall the doctrine and practice of the church be this year?  Not Christ’s, but man’s.  We can see this is various denominations obedience trends of the day. From those who preach toleration of vice with no repentance, to those who preach condemnation with no forgiveness. One dismisses the law and the other dismisses the gospel.

Don’t’ think anybody can reject God’s true word and abundant grace without consequences.

Jesus paints a picture deserving of such judgment that His hearers exclaim “May this never be!”

He prophesied His own rejection — 14 “But when the tenant farmers saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

He also prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation and the proclamation of the gospel to the rest of the world. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”

 

  1. Total Destruction – Broken or Crushed

By all this, Jesus shows clearly who is Lord.

Not those who so callously arrogated to themselves the powers in the church.  But God, who holds our eternal lives in His hands.

He is the one most to be feared!  You wouldn’t learn that from the blasphemers of this day and age, from those who speak slightingly of Christ, and ridicule the Creator.  And our eternal fate isn’t in the hands of those who persecute the truth, of whom we are so easily frightened.  Jesus warns, “Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.”  And who is that?  God alone.

 

3. Back to the Lord’s Promises

God’s word is important to you, or you wouldn’t be here, nevertheless, the warning does strike home, doesn’t it?  For arrogance dwells in our sinful hearts, and indifference, and spiritual pride, and a reluctance to let God be God, our Lord, our Creator, our owner.

Yet such a fearful punishment is there, so that we would turn to Him.  It is no accident that this text follows last week’s account of the merciful father.  If you look into your heart in fear that you have indeed put God last, and been indifferent to His word, even to the point of impenitence or unbelief, take heart, and know how He will greet you.

As the loving father greeted the lost son, so our heavenly father reaches out to us with the gospel.  Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven.  AMEN.