The True Source of Righteousness

2022-04-03 – Year C – Lent 5 – The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas
Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:7-16; Luke 20:9-19

Parable of the Wicked Tenants

  • Story about finding an elevator key on the floor of my high school.
    • “Who gave you permission?”
  • Context: Jesus tells this parable in Jerusalem during the week leading up to his crucifixion. After the triumphal entry. After the cleansing of the temple.
    • Luke 19:47-48 – Teaching daily in the temple, scribes and chief priests were not happy with him!
    • At the end of today’s parable the scribes and the chief priests were even more angry because they “perceived that he had told this parable against them” (Luke 20:19). They were correct.
  • Unpacking the parable
    • In this story, the tenants represent the leaders of Israel and the vineyard itself represents the people of God (see Isaiah 5:1-7).
      • In Isaiah’s prophesy, God tells his people that they are not producing the fruit he expects (Justice and righteousness).
      • In this parable, it is the leaders of Israel who are blamed for forgetting the vineyard’s owner.
    • The servants who were sent to collect the owner’s share of the fruit are the prophets, perhaps including John the Baptist (v. 4).
    • Luke 20:13 – “Beloved Son” is the term used by the Father at Jesus’ baptism (3:22). “The parable is Jesus’ statement regarding the source of his authority. He is the beloved Son, and God will vindicate him and exalt him.”
  • The tenants decide to kill the son, thinking that the vinyard will become theirs. They made the wrong decision!

Law and Gospel

  • Why were the Scribes and Chief Priests at odds with Jesus?
    • He was a challenge to their authority. This is why they came questioning him about who gave him authority to do “these things” (Luke 20:2).
    • He was undermining their standard teaching – self righteousness (luke 16:15, 18:9)
  • Phillippians 3:4-7 – Paul’s accomplishments according to the law.
  • Phillippians 3:8 shows Paul’s reflection on his own accomplishments and rule-keeping and how they compare to knowing Jesus.
    • He counts all of his accomplishments as “rubbish”. Why throw out all of that work and all of that legacy! What a waste! It would be like throwing good money after bad. Self-righteousness can’t get you closer to God.
  • v. 9 – The righteousness of Jesus is so much better than to maintain “a righteousness of my own” by obeying God’s rules.
    • Even if we could keep all of the rules perfectly, our hearts would still not be right before God, tending either towards pride or resentment (like the scribes and chief priests!).
  • Does this mean that we shouldn’t bother with the commandments in the Bible? No!
    • v. 12 – “Not that I have already obtained this…I press on to make it my own…”
    • We continue to try to strive for obedience, but we do it out of our relationship with Jesus and in his strength. Not trying to earn righteousness before God, but allowing God to transform us.

The Cornerstone

  • Einstein’s educational credentials: slow to learn to talk, dropped out of high school at the age of 15 because he disliked the discipline that his teacher stressed. He flunked his college entrance exam the first time he took it. He was not a star student and ended up working in the patent office.
  • Luke 20:17 –  “The stone that the builders rejected…” (from Psalm 118:22)
    • The cornerstone is one of the most important stones in a building.
    • For those who recognize Jesus for who he is, he becomes the greatest treasure.
    • Luke 20:18 – The cornerstone will crush any on whom it falls. This has to do with the final judgment. Those who accept Jesus and believe in him for salvation will be saved, those who reject him will be crushed for they have rejected the source of life.
  • Let us “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, ESV) He is our cornerstone, our greatest treasure, and there is not life apart from him.

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