Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 20:4
And he said to them, Go, you also, into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.

            Sometimes Jesus says things that are really obscure to us today, but here He is clear; this is our life in the Kingdom, in Christ. The Father has drawn you to His Son by the Holy Spirit, promising forgiveness and new everlasting life; the promise we receive in Baptism (John 6:44; John 16:13; Titus 3:5-7). Then as Christians we serve our Lord who serves us, giving us all we need including things to do, a way of life which He sustains by Holy Communion, confession and absolution, and prayer. And finally, at the end of time, we all will receive what is just, as we confess, or agree together, in the baptismal creed, life everlasting with the Father, Son, and Spirit.

            Now obviously much more could be said, which is why Jesus tells us so much more, and more’s written besides. Yet for you today, what does it mean to leave the marketplace and go to God’s vineyard? When you hear of the lazy loafers being sent to work, do you relate? When those who got in at the last hour are blessed, and those serving the long hard day get the same; are you envious or do you rejoice? Jesus was speaking to His disciples, the eleven apostles who would shepherd, or pastor, the early church. He brought them out of boats, fields, and tax stalls, to work for the salvation of others in oversight and service. Now you have given me this same ministry, yet it’s not just me in the kingdom working. God has called you too.

            As children, siblings, parents, as drivers, managers, admin, and, of course, as children of our Father in Heaven. He has called you into Christ’s life of truth and love, to be a light to those around you, yeast to lift each other up to Christ (Matthew 5:14-16, Matthew 13:33). And just as Paul wrote, for the Christian to live is Christ and to die is gain, whether we live or die we are the Lord’s (Philippians 1:21; Romans 14:8). This is our calling as God’s royal priesthood, Christ’s holy nation, the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (1 Peter 2:9). You have been called out from the marketplace, from Egypt, from the secular world, into the vineyard, the promised land, the kingdom of God. You have died to sin and been made alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:3-11). This is your calling, now do you measure up? If you see you have been lazy in the vineyard, wanted to go back to Egypt, or have failed in the work, remember what has already happened today. You, together with the rest of us, have confessed that you have failed, have sinned and cannot save yourself; then we asked for Christ’s forgiveness and He has forgiven you (Matthew 18:19-20). And we will in the prayer of the church, together with the saints and with Jesus, ask for mercy and strength to continue in His promise, to live His life.

            It doesn’t matter when you were called into the faith, if you’ve been faithful since infancy, or as an adult, or even on the death bed. What matters is the promise you were given, the confession we made together with the landlord, with our saviour Jesus Christ the righteous. He has forgiven you, and so as we live in that forgiveness you will forgive others; if you don’t, then hear again Christ’s words to you from this morning, ‘you are forgiven’, and live in it. If you need greater comfort or a wonderful reminder, come to the table and receive His forgiveness on your tongue. Receive it well and go to work in the vineyard; to what God has put in your life, what He has called you to, to put those you live with above yourself, to encourage each other in our Christian lives, to bring your requests to God in thanksgiving, to pray, and of course to do the work that He has given you, whatever that may be.

            But through all this, do not forget what Our King has promised you. Not a denari, money, or worldly wealth, but rather what is just, what is righteous. Just as our baptismal agreement states, that creed we confess with all Christians and in accord with Christ’s Word, you have been promised the very thing you need. Communion with Christ and all the saints, forgiveness of all your sins, resurrection of your body should you die before the end, and life everlasting.

            And as you go, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now to life everlasting. Amen.

Pastor Graham Josephs.