Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

   I don’t know about you but this Gospel sounds very much in favor

of communism / socialism. Let us all gather together under big brother

government and labor together, letting the government take control of

all private property and determine an equal wage so that all may

receive equally whether or not you work, not determined with how

much you work, nor what you work, nor where you work. Let

totalitarianism prosper so that all may become equal under

government’s control and ungodly regulations.

 

   Wait, you say this Gospel is not about such? But I hear so many

use this parable to say that Christians, let alone Lutherans, must

support Socialism or Communism or Totalitarianism even though all

these structures are clearly denounced through Scripture and, most

especially as Lutherans, even though they have been very clearly

denounced by our Lutheran founding fathers in the 16th century, via

description, as heretical anti-Christians beliefs; for within the Formula

of Concord and the Solid Declaration, both found within the Book of

Concord which is the defining book that helps us understand what is

Lutheranism, it says such, “We reject and condemn the... erroneous,

heretical teaching, which is not to be tolerated or permitted in the

church, or in public affairs, or in domestic life. For they teach... That a

Christian cannot with a good conscience hold or possess any property,

but is in duty bound to devote it to the commonwealth” (Solid

Declaration, Article XII.9-22). So wait, let me get this clear, are you say

that all who preach these heretical structures are abusing Scripture, if

so then what does today’s Gospel really point us to?

 

  There are some who have a nasty knack for taking Scripture out of

context to mean what it does not mean. Others do not mean so and

they are forgiven, though that does not mean they are suddenly

correct, their words are still wrong. For example, the abuse of James

chapter two where several Roman Catholics takes a part of verse 24

horribly out of context to claim, “that a person is justified by works and

not by faith.” The whole verse goes as such, “You [you, a human!] see

that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone,” which is

obvious because who can see one’s faith except via their works? And

the whole chapter of James 2, not one verse taken out of context, is all

one whole gigantic pro-“faith alone” argument. Where it clearly states

that if you have true faith, and not dead faith such as the demons who

do believe Jesus is Christ, then you are saved and if you are saved then

you naturally produce works, works that cannot be produced otherwise

because you are a sinner, and because I cannot see your faith that you

claim you have then I must see your works for if you have works then

you clearly are saved and if you are saved then you clearly have true

faith which you, again, claimed to have. Therefore you are saved by

faith, and out of salvation, and only out of salvation, capable of

performing good works.

 

   So if we take out all of the abuses and read the Gospel passage in

its entirety, what does it tell us? Well it clearly begins with Jesus telling

us, “For the kingdom of heaven is like...”, and then He provides for us

his parable. The entire parable is about the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not

about economics, for Jesus is painting for us a very specific picture, he

is weaving together a very specific tale, he is telling us that no matter

when you become a Christian, no matter how late or how early, when

you die you will all receive the generous award of eternal salvation and

abundant pardon. His parable is all about death and how no amount of

good works or time here on earth will earn you a better seat at God’s

table. Congratulations, that means upon your death you will be equal

to even St Peter himself and St Paul! Why? Because of your faith in

Jesus Christ.

 

  Our late Pastor Borows lived a long fruitful life as a pastor, as a

Christian, as a laborer for Christ. He is most definitely in Heaven, and

great is his reward. If I was to suddenly go ill due to say Covid because I

chose to visit the sick, treating them like lepers, the same as how Christ

treated the lepers, and then die, would that make me lesser a Christian

than Pastor Borow’s? If I was to get suddenly called up to serve our

great nation and was killed either overseas or here by one of our

domestic terrorists would I be any less a Christian than Pastor Borows?

Would my untimely death mean that my reward in heaven is lesser

than Pastor Borow’s because I did not live such a long life in service

towards God? No, and the same applies to all of you. The reward Christ

provides for the one who converts on his deathbed is no less than the

reward received by a lifelong 90 year old Christian. The reward is equal.

What about a mass murderer who repents and proclaims Christ before

capital punishment? The reward is equal. What about the young

baptized child who dies before they even say “mama” or “papa”? The

reward is equal. What about the young man who has faith but has done

nothing in the name of Christ? If they truly believe, the reward is equal.

What about the old man who has filled his life to the brim with selfless

service and mission work all in Christ’s name? The reward is equal.

 

   I am reminded of the two sons in the Prodigal Son parable. One is

lost, a sinner, but once he comes back to the father, an amazing feast is

prepared. The other has never left the father and has labored hard, but

is jealous of his brother. As Christians, good works and the desire to

serve our father and help our neighbors and bear fruit the fruits of the

Spirit should come naturally to us. And we should desire to labor long

all for Christ’s sake. But we shouldn’t be like the older brother who,

though he never left his father, is jealous of his returning brother who

received a feast. Instead of being jealous or exuding hatred toward the

sinner who finds Christ before they die, we should rejoice for they have

been found. Rejoice for the reward they receive is so abundant that all

their sins have been pardoned and overwhelmed by God’s grace.

 

   But some of us might find it hard to rejoice. Let me provide an

extreme example, an example that some in debate may call a nuclear

statement. Hitler. If he had or found faith in Christ, true faith, upon his

death, repenting of his sins, would he be in Heaven? Not saying he did,

but if he did would he be in heaven? How do you think you would feel,

knowing full well all the atrocious things he has done, if you found out

that he might be in heaven? Outright denial? Skepticism? Betrayal?

Hatred towards God? Jealousy? Or extreme joy? This is just a thought,

but one that expresses how natural it is for us to be like the older son

when it comes to hearing today’s Gospel.

 

   How about Paul’s story? As Saul he was an enemy to the Christian

Jews and hunted them down and caused many of their deaths. But

through the grace of God, through his personal experience with Jesus,

he turned from his ways and was named Paul. Several of the other

disciples, to include Peter, did not believe that Paul was a true brother

or that he repented. They were skeptical of him; they were like the

older brother towards Paul who was like the younger brother.

 

   Just goes to show how amazingly abundant Christ’s mercy and

grace is for us, it is so abundant that it goes far beyond normal human

understanding. Christ died so that all of our sins might be forgiven. To

the Christian, forgiveness is continuously available throughout their

lives, and to the new Christian, forgiveness is available for all the sin

you have racked up to the point you converted. For under Christ, all of

his laborers are forgiven, and through him, when we meet our maker,

we all come blameless, shameless, guiltless, sinless; all receiving the

same reward, eternal life in Heaven.

 

   On an interesting note, you may have noticed in today’s parable

that the master only agreed to give a denarius to the first group of

laborers. He went out to them and after he, the master, agreed to hire

them for one denarius did he sent them into the vineyard. The laborers

set the terms. After that, throughout the day, the master hires more

laborers but does not tell any of them how much they will earn, only

that he will provide what he deemed was right. Then, at the end of the

day, it comes time for the passing of the wage, and the master asks the

last to come receive their pay first. The ones who only showed up the

final hour received one denarius, not knowing that would be their

wage. The next group the same and so on, until the final group, who

were the first to be hired showed up for their wage. This group, the

only one that the master agreed to give one denarius before hiring,

believes they will receive more because those who worked less also

received one denarius. But the master tells them that these were the

agreed upon terms, that they will receive one denarius, and why should

they get mad at the master for being generous with the others? Let it

be known it is only this group that agreed upon the terms to be paid

one denarius. Yet they are jealous, because the Master is willing to

provide the same for the latest of the laborers.

 

   The kingdom of God is for all who labor for Christ, not part of it

for those who are late to the game, but all of it and all its amazing

abundance for those who come early and for those who come late, for

those who have been a Christian since their infant baptism to those

who come to believe right before they breath their last breath. They,

and you, have all been abundantly pardoned through faith in Christ,

and to you the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven are indeed open.

 

Let us pray,

 

    Dear Heavenly Father, you are much grander than humans and

your thoughts much higher than humans and your love more vast than

humans, we cannot comprehend it, but we still adore it and ask that

you never take away this abundant love but continue to promise us all

the Kingdom of Heaven. In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Verse of the Day

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