The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost October 18, 2020
Text: Matthew 21:33-43 ILCW – A 20:2219
Theme: The Owner Looks for Fruits.
What kinds of things do people own? Farms, land, homes, a business, cars, and more. Children own bikes, toys, cell phones, video games, and more. Even the poorest among us owns things from clothing, to books, to TVs, to radios. Everyone owns something. Some have more than others. But each of us has many things – even beyond “things.”
We have our minds, abilities, emotions, talents, gifts. We could go on naming things that we own. How thankful we can be for all the things that each of us has.
But, lest we forget, we don’t really own anything. The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who dwell in it” (Ps.24:1). The Lord Himself said, “Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine” (Jb.41:11). There is nothing that we have that is not His in the first place. Nothing. Yet, we act like its ours. God is the owner of all; we are stewards in whose hands He entrusted His things. As the hymn we sang earlier said, “This is my Father’s world. Oh, let me ne’er forget….The Lord is King.
This is our Father’s world. He is the owner. How does He approach the things He owns? Surely, as owner He looks for some return from it all. Jesus tells us that in the parable of the vineyard.
I. This vineyard was a patch of bright green and purple, set on a hillside among the grayish greens of the olive trees and the darker greens of the figs. As one passed by, one could tell that the man who owned this vineyard took pride in it. Everywhere a person looked were signs of the owner’s loving care.
The owner had picked a choice spot suited for growing grapes, a fertile hillside sloping to catch the rays of the sun. All the stones in the field had been removed and carried to the edge where a wall was built to protect the grapes from harmful critters, whether they had four legs or two. A watchtower was set in the midst of the vines so that watchmen could keep their eyes out for larger threats. The owner went so far as to build a winepress in the vineyard so that the grapes did not have to be carried elsewhere for processing and risk being lost. It was plain to see that he spared no expense and went to great ends to make this the finest vineyard possible.
From such care, rich returns were expected. He looked for fruit.
After everything was readied, the owner went away for a time. He leased the vineyard to others who would share in the labor and joy of the harvest.
When it came time to receive some return of the fruit, the owner sent servants to collect his share. By then the renters seemed to forget to whom the land belonged and who had put such great care and expense into making the vineyard productive and safe for them. Instead they looked on the vineyard as if it were their own. So, they made short work of the servants who came to collect the expected fruit, sending them back empty-handed. The owner sent others whom the renters violently greeted with stones. Still others received rougher treatment. “There is only one thing left to do,” the owner said. “I will send them my son. When they see my only dearly loved son, they will surely honor him.”
As the son was seen approaching the farm, the wicked renters put their heads together. “He’s the heir,” they said. “If we get rid of him, the vineyard will be ours.” How would that happen? Such foolish thinking. But in outright rebellion against the owner, who had never done them anything but good, they killed his son and threw his lifeless body outside the vineyard wall.
At this point in His story, Jesus turned to the priests who were listening. “What do you think the owner will do to these workers when he himself comes back to his vineyard?” He asked.
The priests shifted uncomfortably on their feet. The Master Preacher had so involved them in the parable that when it came time for His question, they were trapped, having an uneasy suspicion that Jesus was really talking about them. “He will destroy those wicked servants,” they said, “and rent his vineyard to other workers who will give him his due share of the fruit.”
As the words fell from their lips, they realized that they had just condemned themselves for even as they spoke, these priests, like the workers in the story, were plotting in their ungrateful and rebellious hearts how to get rid of Jesus, God’s only beloved Son.
So, did they repent? Did they fall on their faces pleading Jesus’ pardon? No. In fact, their anger and resentment against Him grew all the stronger as they increased their desire to rid themselves of Him once and for all. With sadness Jesus must have looked at them. Like the renters in the story, they refused to recognize that the one Person who could help them stood before them. They would not
admit that they had abused His things and needed Him to be saved.
II. He said to them, “Do you know the Bible verse: ‘God has made the very stone which the builders threw away into the cornerstone of His house. The man who stumbles over this stone will be broken in pieces’?”
The priests could not answer, but only stared at Jesus with cold, bitter hatred. Yes, they had stumbled over Jesus who was God’s foundation stone for salvation. And in their abuse of and hatred for Him, they would be destroyed in the same way that they had said the crooked renters of the vineyard should be. Unrepentant and self-condemned they remained.
Jesus’ story was not just about a farm. It is a story about the people to whom He spoke, and about us to whom He speaks today.
And what of us? We Christians are the modern-day workers whom God has taken into His vineyard, the Church. It is His, you know. He is the owner. What have we been doing with His things? There are other places where Jesus speaks of us as vines in His vineyard. Maybe it seems strange for us to think of ourselves as vines planted in a vineyard. But vines are to produce fruit, and the fruit is for the One who planted, nurtured, and cared for the vine.
We are surrounded on all sides by God’s loving care. We become so accustomed to it, that we are tempted to not consider it like we should. Aren’t our lives filled to overflowing with His special mercies and His daily love, the greatest of which is sending His Son to be our Savior when we had self-condemned ourselves in sin? If you should count these blessings and the greater ones that yet lie ahead for all who believe in Jesus, do you think you would ever be done counting them? This is our Father’s world. He is the Owner. Yet, He has so generously turned it over into our hands.
But more than the world, He has given us all by faith in Christ a place within His Church. He has seen to it that His Word protects us and that it is present to enrich our lives. And He looks for a return. What farmer or husbandman plants his fields, works his land, does all that he can to make it productive, but does not expect to get anything back from it?
By grace we have been placed in God’s vineyard, like the renters in the parable. He has given us a part in its production and in the reception of its rewards. Dare we rob the Owner of the fruit He has a right to expect? He cultivates us with such care. He gives and gives and gives some more. The greatest gift of all being His Son who willingly paid the price for our sins that we, like Paul, may rejoice in the upward look towards heaven that lies before us – guaranteed to all who believe in the Lord Jesus as Savior.
God grant that we would never in foolish complacency despise His gifts to us but prove ever fruitful and responsive to the Owner of all who graciously enriches our lives in Him for time and eternity. The Owner Looks for Fruits. God grant that we yield them to Him in our lives of faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
You can also find us on facebook
The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost October 18, 2020
“There was a landowner who planted a vineyard….When the time approached to harvest the fruit he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit.” Matthew 21:33-34
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
We extend a warm and sincere welcome in our Savior’s name. Please sign our guest book, located to the right just outside the sanctuary. If you desire more information about Zion Lutheran Church or are in need of spiritual guidance, please call upon our pastor at any time. We are delighted to have you join us today and invite you to return soon.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever….Let those who fear the LORD say now: Yes, His mercy endures forever. You are my God, and I will give You thanks” (Ps.118:1,29).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
God’s Vineyard. In the Bible God’s people are pictured as a vineyard from which He sought a bountiful harvest. But the vineyard often failed to produce any good fruit, in spite of the gracious efforts of the owner. Nothing was left undone to enrichen it. But it failed to produce. And if it did produce, those in charge of it refused to give the owner His share.
Israel failed to produce the fruits of faith. Its leaders failed to honor God. They mistreated God’s representatives and killed His own Son.
As the workers in God’s modern-day vineyard, may we never fail to see the rich and gracious blessings He has poured upon us through Christ, our Savior. May Christ become more and more precious to our souls as the firm Foundation and the Cornerstone on which God’s Church is built. And may we produce faith’s fruit to His glory.
So we pray: Almighty God, in Your bountiful goodness keep us safe from every evil of body and soul. Help us produce fruits of faith. Make us ready, with cheerful hearts, to do whatever pleases You; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 5:1-7
The Lord describes Israel’s unfaithfulness and unfruitfulness. Consider what care and instruction the Lord has given to you in your life. Though the world goes wild, O Lord, make me a garden in which You delight, secure in Your righteousness. Amen.
The Epistle Lesson: Philippians 3:12-21
St. Paul holds before us our upward calling, the resulting fruit of faith, and the promise of transformation in the resurrection. Dear Jesus, turn us from the destructive ways of our human nature and turn us continually toward the heavenly calling and promise You set before us. Amen.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 21:33-43
Rejecting Jesus as Christ will lead to exclusion from His Kingdom. He is the foundation upon which saving faith is built. Dear Father, help us be united by faith to Christ, the only foundation on which eternal life is built, lest we turn away, reject Him, and lose our hope of salvation. Amen.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation. This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17). It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says. Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.
The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “When people become secure, danger lies ahead. To be sure, they hear the Word but let it go into one ear and out the other…. The Kingdom of God is taken from them and given to others who will bring forth fruit…. Lord, enable us to hear Your Word with joy that as workers in Your field we return a rich harvest to You.”
— Martin Luther
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: insert #302 This Is My Fathers World
1 This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–
His hand the wonders wrought.
2 This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.
3 This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!
Order of Worship: Service of Word and Sacrament Hymnal page 26
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: #457 st.1-2
The Gospel Response: pg.30
Sermon Hymn: #528
Sermon: Matthew 21:33-43 The Owner Looks for Fruits
Our Response to the Word
The Nicene Creed: page 31
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer: Hymnal page 32
Lord, Bless Us
Order of Holy Communion: Hymnal pages 33-35
(Visitors: Please read box inside about the practice of Holy Communion)
Thanksgiving & Blessing: Hymnal pages 36-37
The Closing Hymn: #559
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
Midweek Bible Class
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
Ting Wang (316 NOW) Retirement Service on Zoom
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Whose responsibility is it to care for the Lord’s vineyard, the Church? Rightly answered, it’s all of us who love the Lord and produce abundant fruits of faith in His service. Conversely, there are those who reject their Savior and live for self. In the case of such individuals, invariably the judgment of God is not far behind.
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 5:1-7 (answers are found on the back side)
- In this song from Isaiah, what do the vineyard, vines, and grapes represent?
- As the annals of history record, what resulted because the Lord’s chosen nation bitterly disappointed him?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde & Sharon Johnson; the Dave Ballou, at home; Greg Miller; Casey Milam & family; Felicia Nichols’ brother’s family and father; Bill Buchanan; Lois Wiese; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; family of Rachel Bates whose father, retired Pastor Leroy Martin, entered eternal life this past week.
Quarterly Meeting & Bible Study Last Sunday we reconvened our Sunday morning Bible study after the service. Today is normally the time of our quarterly voters’ meeting. We anticipate just a few voters present due to the present pandemic situation, so we will try to share some details of our congregation’s progress and plans with everyone after the service. Following that we invite you to remain for a brief fellowship and Bible study time in the fellowship hall.
Daily Devotions If you would like a hard copy of pastor’s daily devotions for the week past, you will find a few on the credenza in the narthex. If you would like to receive them through text on your cell phone or by email, let him know
Forward in Christ’s monthly edition for October is here. You will find copies of the present and past issues in the narthex.
Ordinance Continued Last week Springfield/Greene County extended the mask requirements until January. As a result, we will continue wearing masks in the worship service. You will find masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use. Please, continue to watch your physical distancing, side to side and front to back. We are not passing the offering plate during the service, but it will be found at the door upon leaving the sanctuary.
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 11; Adult Bible Class: 4 & Sunday School: – ; The Gardens Bible Class: no class; Midweek Bible Class: 3; Offering: $713.15.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 21 Series A: Isaiah 25:6-9; Philippians 4:4-13; Matthew 22:1-13
Answers to Today’s Old Testament Lesson Brief Study:
- The vineyard represents God’s chosen people, the house of Israel—his Church. The vines are the men and women of Judah, dearly loved by God. The grapes are the fruits of faith, in this case, however, the rotten fruit of injustice and unrighteousness.
- God sent His punishment in full measure upon His chosen people, not only through the Babylonian captivity, but also in the ultimate overthrow of the Jewish nation in the year 70 A.D. Let us take heed, for the Lord likewise searches the hearts of His people today for fruits of righteousness.
This week I am praying for……
The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – Series A
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 5:1-7 – Song about The Lord’s Vineyard
1 Let me sing my loved one a song about his vineyard. My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile ridge. 2He dug it up and gathered the stones out of it. He planted it with the choicest vines and built a tower in the middle of it. He even cut a wine press into it. He expected it to produce clusters of grapes, but it produced only sour grapes. 3“So now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more could have been done to my vineyard that I have not already done for it? When I expected it to produce clusters of grapes, why did it produce sour grapes? 5Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away its hedge, and it will become pasture. I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled down. 6I will make it a wasteland. It will not be pruned or hoed, so briers and thorns will shoot up. I will also command the clouds not to pour rain on it.” 7Yes, the vineyard of the Lord of Armies is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the planting that pleased him. He expected justice, but there was oppression. He expected righteousness, but there was an outcry.
Epistle Lesson: Philippians 3:12-21 – Pressing On with an Upward Look
12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus also took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it yet, but there is one thing I do: Forgetting the things that are behind and straining toward the things that are ahead, 14I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Therefore, let all of us who are mature continue to think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you too. 16Only let us think the same thing and walk in line with what we already have attained. 17Brothers, join together in imitating me and in paying attention to those who are walking according to the pattern we gave you. 18To be sure, many walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. I told you about them often, and now I am saying it while weeping. 19Their end is destruction, their god is their appetite, and their glory is in their shame. They are thinking only about earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. We are eagerly waiting for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21By the power that enables him to subject all things to himself, he will transform our humble bodies to be like his glorious body.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 21:33-43 – Parable of the Wicked Tenants
33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a tower. He leased it out to some tenant farmers and went away on a journey. 34When the time approached to harvest the fruit, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35The tenant farmers seized his servants. They beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36Then the landowner sent even more servants than the first time. The tenant farmers treated them the same way. 37Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. 38But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance!’ 39They took him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40So when the landowner comes, what will he do to those tenant farmers?”
41They told him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end. Then he will lease out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his fruit when it is due.” 42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 43“That is why I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces its fruit.”
The Evangelical Heritage Version of the Bible, EHV, New Testament & Psalms ©2017