Sermon Text: What kind of child are you?

September 27, 2020 Church Blog, Sermons, Sunday Message0

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Proper 21A – What kind of child are you?

  1. For those of us who are parents Jesus’ parable in our Gospel lesson probably sounds familiar, even if you don’t you know this drill from your own childhood.
    1. You have two children
      1. You tell the one, “clean your room,” and they say, “Ok” (or lift one of the earphones from their headset, give a monosyllabic grunt which means ok) and you go about your business.
      1. However, three days later the room hasn’t changed, it may even be worse, and you say, “I thought I told you to clean your room,” to which they reply, “I didn’t think you meant now.”
      1. But you also spoke to your other child, “Clean your room,” to which you got, “I don’t want to.” You’d like to take time to correct their misunderstanding of how things work in YOUR house, but you’re pressed for time and let it go.
      1. However, when you come home this formerly insolent child has had an epiphany and realized the better part of valor is to do what your parents ask.
    1. Which of the children really complied with your request (ie your will)?
      1. That’s a question that really isn’t a question, the answer is obvious, the one who cleaned the room even though they initially said no.
      1. But when Jesus told His parable He wasn’t giving parenting lessons, He was making a point to the people gathered around Him.
      1. The question, “Which child did the will of his father,” was meant to drive home the point of the parable He had just told in the minds of His listeners about obedience to God’s will
    1. That same question can be asked of each one of us in our walk with God.
      1. What kind of child are you…obedient in word only or action?
      1. Do you pay lip service to your Lord’s requests or do you live them out, even if they are inconvenient at the time?
  2. Let’s take a look at our Gospel and how it intersects with our lives today
    1. This discourse takes place at the end of Jesus’ ministry, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) occurred the day before.
      1. The week is full of dramatic showdowns between Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel that will culminate in Jesus’ crucifixion.
      1. Matthew reports that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cheers and accolades of the crowds on Palm Sunday He entered the Temple and drove out the money changers and overturned tables saying, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Mat 21:13)
      1. Between Jesus’ popularity with the crowd and His actions in the Temple the religious leaders found Him to be a threat to their own positions.
    1. So, when Jesus returned to the Temple the next day (the beginning of our Gospel lesson) they challenge Him, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Mat 21:23)
      1. Rather than answer their question our Lord asks them a question, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” (Mat 21:24-25)
      1. This put the leaders in a conundrum, if they said “from heaven” they indict themselves because they didn’t believe him and if they said, “from man” they would lose even more credibility with the people because they considered him a prophet.
      1. Remember that John, like Jesus, gathered a crowd of tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners but the religious leaders would not follow him.
      1. When they reply, “we don’t know” Jesus refused to tell them what His authority was.
    1. Then He told our parable to illustrate the difference between the religious leaders and sinners as represented by the two sons with God as the father figure.
      1. The religious leaders made a great show of following God, they were the son who said “yes,” but then they failed to do the father’s will.
      1. Remember that the meaning of the law, the whole reason they existed, was “love” – love for God and for their neighbor including the tax collectors and sinners whom they condemned (thus they hated John and Jesus because they couldn’t understand why they surrounded themselves with those kind of people).
      1. Whereas the sinners are the other son who refused to do the father’s will when he said no – just as they initially did not follow God’s will in the lifestyles they chose.
      1. But then repented and actually did the father’s will.
  3. But what our Lord revealed about the religious leaders and the sinners in the two sons can easily be applied to us
    1. Uncomfortably, we are actually in the seat of the religious leaders
      1. We have been baptized into God’s family, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, ” according to St. Peter. (1Pe 2:9)
      1. The Law of God, the will of God, was summed up by our Lord Himself when He was asked which was the most important commandment, and he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22:37-40)
      1. The summation of the Law is love: love God and love others as God loved us
      1. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
    1. That love caused God to send Jesus to make salvation possible
      1. Jesus is the true example, our example, of the Good Son, who both said “yes” to the will of the Father and did the will of the Father by becoming human through Mary.
      1. He lived a life to fulfill the Law that His sinful creatures (us) could not and died an innocent death on the cross as payment for all of our wrongs so that through faith in Him and His work our sins are forgiven, not just ours but anyone who believes.
      1. And the continuing will of God is that we take that message of love and hope to the world as He said before He ascended, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them all that I have commanded. (Mt 28:19-20)
    1. What will your answer be…what kind of child are you?
      1. Are you like the religious leaders who thought that they alone were good enough to be in God’s kingdom and therefore closed the door to “sinners”?
      1. There are many who are outside the kingdom of God in today’s America, the mission field is not some far off country it’s our community.
      1. The “sinners” are not just those living in open opposition to God’s law on marriage and sexuality (that’s the standard easy target of religious scorn, but the Kingdom is still open to them, Christ died for them)
      1. But the “sinners” are your average neighbor who’s married with kids, hardworking, little league coach, the regular folks in normal life who don’t know the first thing about Jesus, other than His name.
    1. John the Baptist and Jesus preached that, “the kingdom of heaven was near, repent!” which told those who had thought that they were beyond God’s love, or didn’t know God’s love to begin with, that the Kingdom was open to them, there was the hope of a new beginning.
      1. Their message fulfilled God’s law to love God above all things and love our neighbor as ourselves – they were sent to make a way for all into the kingdom through repentance and forgiveness of sins
      1. Can we do any less?
      1. When we pray for the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to see the need of the world to know the Gospel He will give us opportunity to give witness to the hope that lies within us.