Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This past week I received two messages over the Internet. The first from a Facebook friend in Bangladesh. He is the only Lutheran pastor in Bangladesh. He asked for my help. Another request came from members of Fountain of Life Lutheran Church in Puerto Ordaz who are going to leave for Ecuador. Where can they congregate in Ecuador? Where can they hear the Word of God in its purity and receive the sacraments in the way that the Lord has commanded us? On our trip to Ecuador, Luz Maria and I did not find any Lutheran congregations in Ecuador.
For a human being, the problems of the whole world are too many. However, we can remember in prayer the Lutherans in Bangladesh and the Venezuelans in Ecuador in our prayers.
The mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel everywhere and baptize and make disciples of all nations. But, we are human beings and we have our limits. As the prophet Jeremiah says in our reading of the Old Testament (Jeremiah 1: 5-10), "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came out of the womb I sanctified you, and I gave you as a prophet to the nations. "
How did Jeremiah respond? "Ah, Lord Jehovah! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a child. " But, the Lord said to him, “Do not say, I am a child; because to all whom I send you, you will go, and whatever I command you, you will speak. Do not fear them, for I am with you to deliver you, says Jehovah. And the Lord stretched out his hand, and touched my mouth; and Jehovah said to me, Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See that I have set you on this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to destroy, to ruin and to tear down, to build and to plant. "
We can not do the whole mission, but we can do the work that the Lord has assigned us.
This is part of the meaning of the parable in our gospel for today. A parable is a story of daily life that our Lord used as an illustration of our new relationship with God. Especially in the Gospel of St. Matthew, the parables begin with the words, "The kingdom of God is like ..."
That's the case with our text for today. "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man, a householder, who went out in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard, and having agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. At the third hour, he saw others in the plaza who were idle, and he said to them, You also go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just. And they went. He went out again around the sixth and ninth hours, and he went out about the eleventh hour, found others lying idle, and said to them, Why are you here all day idle? They said to him, Because no one has hired us. Go to the vineyard, and you will receive what is just. "
The harvest time of the grapes had arrived and the owner of the vineyard needed workers. The root of the Spanish word, "money", is denarius or denarius. One of this coins was a worker's salary for one day. However, many times the parables of Jesus had a surprise ending.
"And when evening fell, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first. And when those who had come near the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius. And when the first came, they thought that they should receive more, but they also each received a denarius. And when they received it, they murmured against the father of the family, saying: These last ones have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, that we have carried the load and the heat of the day. But he answering, said to one of them: Friend, I do not hurt you; Did not you agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go; but I want to give this last as well as you. "
It was normal for workers who worked all day to receive more payment than those who worked only one or two hours. Many times we are also worried that it is fair for ourselves. But it is not like that in the kingdom of God. Nobody receives shat is fair for them.
What is the covenant the Lord made with each one of us in baptism? We are saved only by grace, by the blood of Christ. The promise of eternal life is the same for everyone.
Now, in our text the Lord speaks to the Jews, the descendants of Abraham. They were the first to enter the vineyard, that is, to receive the promise of salvation. Then came all the other nations to this day. Also, some of us grew up in a Christian family and received baptism as infants, and we have studied the Bible all our lives. This is good. But, others have heard the Word of God the first time as adults and have been baptized as adults. The promise is the same.
When we recognize that all sinners receive the same gift of faith by the grace of God, we do not think about whether we have done more than others or we must do more to earn God's favor. It is our joy to share the gospel with others at any time. We know that we succeed in the mission, not because of our own strength, but because of the power of the Holy Spirit. In this, everyone has the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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