daily biblical sermons


Because the Jews instigated the death of the Son of God, the kingdom of God will be taken from them and given to a people that will produce its fruit
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the 27th Sunday of the Year, October 04, 2020
Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 79, Philippians 4:6-9, Matthew 21:33-43


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“‘Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterwards he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.” And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it’” (Matthew 21:33-43).

 

 

This parable is an allegory of salvation history. God is the owner of the vineyard, the tenants to whom he lets out the vineyard to do the work are the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, who failed miserably not only to give the owner his share of the fruit, but they even killed the owner’s servants that he sent to them to collect his share. The servants are the prophets, whom God sends to his people to admonish and teach them how he wants them to live. Finally, the son of the vineyard owner is the Son of God, whom the owner sends to the tenants to collect his share of the fruit.

 

 

The tenants’ killing the owner’s son is Jesus’ prophecy of what will happen to him. He will be condemned to death by the Jewish authorities and handed over to the Romans to be crucified. The result of the Jewish authorities condemning the Son of God to death and ensuring that he was crucified by the Romans was that “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you [Jews] and given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43).

 

 

Jesus then tells them that this was all predicted in the Old Testament in the passage about the stone, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner” (Psalm 117:22 in Matthew 21:42). This rejected stone, Jesus tells them, is a prophecy that the Son of God will be rejected by the builders (the Jews), but will turn out to be the head of the corner of the building.

 

 

This Scripture will be fulfilled when they put the Son of God (Jesus) to death on the cross. This killing of the Son of God at the instigation of the Jewish authorities will cause the kingdom of God to be transferred from them and given to a new people, who will accept him as the cornerstone of the building. Who will this new people be? They will be those that believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world.

 

 

The culminating point of this parable of salvation history is the killing of the Son of God, who is the promised and long-awaited Messiah of the Jews. For instigating this, the Jews will lose their status of being the kingdom of God on earth. The kingdom will henceforth be given to those that fulfill the destiny of the Jewish people by receiving and believing in their Messiah.

 

 

This new people of God will be the new Israel, the faithful remnant of Israel that accepts the Messiah and puts their faith in him. The new people of God (the Christian Church) brings to fulfillment the saving intention of God that he revealed through the history of Israel up to the birth, life, death, and resurrection of their Messiah. Those that believe in him will become the heirs of Israel. They will be the kingdom of God on earth.

 

 

Jesus preached the arrival of the kingdom of God. He was the king of this kingdom, and those that accept him with faith will be the members of his kingdom. They will consist in converted Jews who believe in Christ plus Gentiles who believe in him. This is the Church as we know it today, composed of both Jews and Gentiles from all the nations of the world who believe in Jesus Christ and accept baptism.

 

 

We may wonder why the killing of the Son of God (the son of the vineyard owner) is so central to the course of salvation history, for those that believe in him inherit all the promises and preparation of the Old Testament and become God’s new people in the world today.

 

 

The reason that the death of the Son of God is central to salvation history is that this is the key saving act that saves God’s people from their sins. Those that accept the Messiah will be saved from their sins by his death on the cross, and this will make them the new Israel, the fulfillment of everything that the Old Testament prepared for. They will possess God’s salvation that he had long prepared the Jews to understand and receive.

 

 

However, when the Messiah finally revealed himself, the Jewish authorities, both religious and secular, rejected him and condemned him to death. Their instigating his death enabled the whole world to be saved if only they would put their faith in him. The Messiah had to be killed in order to save the world from their sins and justify them, making them righteous and holy before God.

 

 

This is God’s plan for our salvation. So, the Jews’ condemnation to death of their own Messiah actually saved the world, for if Jesus the Messiah had not been put to death, there would be no salvation for either the Jews or the rest of the world. Only the death of the Jewish Messiah saves the world, when they put their faith in him, sincerely repent of their sins, and intend to immediately amend their life.

 

 

What, then, is the mission of this new people of God? Our mission is to preach the good news that God’s salvation is now available in Jesus Christ, through his atoning death on the cross for our sins. The Church, that is, Christian people do many good and praiseworthy charitable works in this world that will be rewarded by God. But the main thrust of the mission of the Church is to proclaim the gospel.

 

 

And what is the gospel? It is the good news that salvation is now available to anyone anywhere of any religion or culture or race or nationality if only they repent upon hearing the gospel, put their faith in Jesus Christ, and call out to him for salvation.

 

 

So, Christianity is not universalism, namely the belief that all people everywhere are automatically saved. Universalism is the death of Christianity. Universalism is the death of Christian mission. Universalism makes Christian mission superfluous, for missionaries proclaim the gospel, which, according to universalism, is unnecessary for salvation.

 

 

But in another sense Christianity has a universal outreach and seeks to make converts everywhere in the world of people of every religion, culture, race, and nation. The mission of the Church is to convert non-Christians primarily by the verbal preaching of the gospel so that they might repent of their sins, promise to immediately amend their life, and put their faith in Jesus Christ and in his atoning death on the cross to make reparation for their sins.

 

 

So, Christianity has a universal outreach and is an openly and actively evangelizing religion. That means that it seeks to make converts to Jesus Christ. It seeks to call people that are living in darkness and sin to come to the light that God has now revealed in his Son so that they might be justified by their faith in him.

 

 

Fundamental to the gospel that the Church is to preach to the world, to people of every language, religion, and culture is that the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Messiah saves us from our sins by enabling God to justify us, when we put our faith in Christ, because Jesus is the one that God has sent to us to suffer our just punishment for our sins for us so that we would not have to suffer it.

 

 

According to the gospel that we preach, all that put their faith in Christ are considered by God to have had their sins duly and justly punished for them in Christ’s flesh on the cross (Romans 8:3-4), and so God justifies them, that is, he declares them righteous and reckons to them his own righteousness (Romans 4:5).

 

 

 

The Church is to proclaim this good news about how Christ pays our debt that we have with God of suffering in punishment for our sins by his death on the cross, when we put our faith in him and sincerely repent of our sins. Preaching this is the basic kerygma or outline of the apostolic preaching. It is the mission of the Church to preach the kerygma throughout the world to people of every culture, religion, and nation so that they might turn from their sins, receive God’s free gift of justification, and then join in the Church’s mission to preach the gospel to others.

 

 

 

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