9th Sunday after Pentecost
Text: Luke 20:9–20
Theme: Vine Grifters
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
1. The text for our final sermon in this series of “Parables for
Pentecost Season” is the Gospel of Luke, chapter 20.
1. Verses 1 and 2 are included for the sake of context:
One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the
gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said
to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who is it that
gave you this authority.” (Luke 20:1–2)
1. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our heavenly Father and from our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
E. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
554 O Jesus, King Most Wonderful
O Jesus, King most wonderful!
O Conqueror renowned!
O Source of peace ineffable,
In whom all joys are found:
O Jesus, light of all below,
The fount of life and fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
All that we can desire:
1. As we have explored several of Jesus’ parables this summer, we have
learned several things:
1. When sowing seed, be reckless.
2. We too are the weeds amongst the wheat.
3. Oftentimes, doing more work does not mean we will get paid more.
4. When it comes to God’s grace, there seems to be a double standard.
1. We now turn to the text for today and the theme: Vine Grifters.
1. You may be wondering what is a “vine grifter”?
1. A “grifter” is someone who is a con artist; someone who pulls
games with someone else’s confidence.
2. A grifter is a person who swindles you by means of deception or
1. What does all this have to do with the text from Luke 20?
3. Jesus’ parable of the vineyard asserts his authority to give the
Vineyard to those who honor the son.
1. Jesus answers his would-be exterminators in his interpretation of
Isaiah’s vineyard song (Isaiah 5:1–7) and Psalm 118’s cornerstone.
1. And [Jesus] began to tell the people this parable:
1. ‘A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants [vine growers]
and went into another country for a long while’ ” (verse 9).
1. It was a long time since this vineyard had been planted—since the
owner had dug all around it, removed its stones, and planted it with the
1. And he had built a tower in the middle of it and hewed out a wine
vat in it (cf Isaiah 5:2).
1. Even Isaiah the prophet referred to it in the distant past—so long
ago that the vine growers forgot that they were tenants but imagined
they were the owners.
2. Ever do that?
1. So this parable was Jesus’ answer to those same tenants who asked:
1. “Who do you think you are? Where do you get the authority to
preach this ‘gospel’?” (cf 20:2).
1. The story Jesus told them would be too incredible to believe had we
not known it actually came true:
1. When the time came, he sent a servant [slave] to the tenants [vine
growers], so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard.
But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent
another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent
him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also
and cast out. (verses 10–12)
1. Has anyone ever heard of an owner like this, realistically?
1. This is way beyond patient!
2. In today’s day and age, invasion with tanks might take place after
the first servant was beaten.
3. Sometimes we fancy ourselves as patient with people, patient with
sinners, even patient with fellow sinners, not realizing that all
that time it was we who was trying the Lord’s patience.
4. He has put up with me, and put up with you, and put up with his
1. Stephen asked, “Which of the prophets did your fathers not
persecute?” (Acts 7:52).
2. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with
the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute,
afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not
worthy—wandering about in
deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews
3. The evil tenants aggressively exploit the owner’s patience, and
the atheists among them imagined there was no owner. And instead
of receiving fruit, the owner receives the opposite: his prophets are
abused, reviled, disregarded. Why? Peter said, “The Lord is
not slow to
fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient
toward you, not
wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach
1. Just when you think the royal patience surely has run out, and the
owner should cut his losses:
1. “The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my
beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the
tenants saw him,
they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the
inheritance may be ours’ ” (verses 13–14).
1. It’s bad enough that they killed the owner’s son, but they knew he
was the owner’s son and still killed him!
1. And Jesus knew that they knew, and he let it happen!
2. Again, drones and nukes should have been sent in before ever
sending the son of one’s own substance!
1. Jesus already told them, “You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering”
1. They knew he was the Messiah; this wasn’t ignorance, like the Romans
or the Greeks. This was insidious.
1. Follow the logic for a minute.
1. Oh, wait, there isn’t any.
2. Because sin is insanity and it makes us do insane things, like
attempting to muscle the Supreme Being.
3. What ludicrous fairy tale did Jesus’ contemporaries live that they
believed they could kick the Lord out of his own world?
1. “Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.”
4. The very same lies proposition us:
1. Let’s strip every mention of Christ from our land and the
country will be ours.
2. Let’s strip every mention of Christ from our conscience and our
lives will be ours.
3. Let’s strip every mention of Scripture from our movies about
Christ and we can retell his story to suit our audience.
1. But history bears out that it never works.
1. “And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then
will the owner [the lord] of the vineyard do to them? He will come and
destroy those tenants. And [he will] give the vineyard to
1. History proves that generation did not pass away without seeing
Jerusalem fall in AD 70.
2. The work of the Lord’s Vineyard is authorized by Jesus’ crucifixion.
1. “When they heard this, they said, ‘Surely not!’ [‘May it never be!’] ”
1. That’s the kind of talk that comes from those who will throw away
their own brothers if it comes down to that.
1. Joseph was the ruler of all Egypt because the Lord was with him, and
when he planted his cup in the possession of his brothers, who had sold him
into slavery, and tested them with an accusation of stealing, they replied:
1. “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your
servants to do such a thing!” (Genesis 44:7).
1. The temple officials of Jesus’ day:
1. “May it never be!” as if they didn’t recognize the history Jesus
2. They acted shocked as if they had never read Isaiah 5, about the
Lord who expected his Vineyard to produce good grapes but it
1. So what gives Jesus the authority to rip the Vineyard away from the
rulers of Israel and give it to those whom he named apostles?
1. The same thing that gives him the authority over all history: his
2. And while we receive the body and blood of Christ (which we will
receive very shortly), the Lamb of God will be praised as He was
1. “they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the
scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your
ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and
people and nation’ ”
1. Worthy by the very authority of his crucifixion.
1. Those who threw him out of the Vineyard and killed him were the
unwitting instruments of God to give the Vineyard to the ones he
precisely by that murder.
1. “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify
the people through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12).
1. The work of the Lord’s Vineyard, the preaching of the Gospel, is
authorized by the very crucifixion of Jesus that is preached.
1. Paul declares: “For I decided to know nothing among you except
Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
1. The cross is the only power we have in our work in the Vineyard,
given to the children of God and joint-heirs with Christ, and taken from
the tenants, who said, “May it never be!”
1. They played stupid, but they knew.
1. But giving them a look, the “who’s kidding who?” look, Jesus said:
1. “What then is this that is written, ‘The stone that the
builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? ” (verse 17).
1. The building of the Lord’s Church stands on the authority of Jesus’
1. When we read “cornerstone” in the Bible, it’s not the same thing as
the modern decorative cornerstone with the date etched on it or documents
sealed in it.
1. This is about the square, straight block that the first two walls
rest on and rise from.
1. By what authority does a rejected stone become the support for the
1. By the authority of Jesus’ rejection itself.
2. Jesus becomes the cornerstone by being rejected, because he was:
1. “appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a
sign that is opposed” (Luke 2:34).
1. Opposed when Peter healed the man at the Beautiful Gate and was
interrogated by the same rulers that threw the Son out of the Vineyard:
1. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘. . . By
the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised
from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well [in
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has
become the cornerstone’ ” (Acts 4:8a, 10b–11).
1. Jesus was the cornerstone that held up that persecuted Church.
2. He is the cornerstone who joins the two together, the Jews and the
Gentiles, so that one building and one house is the result.
3. Christ is the cornerstone because, in the Church, he brought the
Gentiles and the Jews, who were mortal enemies, together.
4. He is the most solid of all things; he is what our lives are built
on, like houses built on a rock (Matthew 7:24–27).
1. “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and when
it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” The scribes and the chief priests
sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he
had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. (verses
1. The risen Cornerstone said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
1. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight
of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being
built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual
sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him
will not be
put to shame [disappointed].” So the honor [value]is for you who believe,
but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders
become the cornerstone.” (1 Peter 2:4–7)
1. So says Peter, the first living stone built on that Cornerstone, on
1. We do not bear him. He bears us.
1. And when they got their hands on him, they threw him out of the
Vineyard and killed him and thought they were rid of him.
1. But Jesus’ Authority Comes from His Rejection and Crucifixion.
1. He was supposed to come from outside the Vineyard in order that they
would give him from the fruit of the Vineyard.
1. But his joint-heirs instead go out to him—outside the camp—bearing
his reproach (cf Hebrews 13:13):
1. the reproach of the rejected Jesus,
2. the crucified Jesus,
3. where the real wine is waiting.
1. And what a nice tidy history lesson that was.
1. But what is the lesson for us, here and now?
2. Have we learned it?
3. Do we really believe that Jesus’ authority comes from his
rejection and crucifixion?
1. Then why the tolerance for modern vine grifters, purging the Church
of both Jesus’ cross and rejection?
1. Jesus said:
1. “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life
that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay
it down of
my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to
take it up again. This charge [command] I have received from my Father”
1. It’s in losing his life, being rejected, crucified, risen, all the
while being the Son of the Owner, wherein lies all Jesus’ power and
authority. This is why St. Paul said:
1. “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him
crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
1. The modern vine grifters have:
1. kidnapped the people of God,
2. just like those who killed the prophets,
3. killed the Son,
1. corrupted the Church in the Middle Ages in Luther’s day.
1. They say now as they did back then:
1. Let’s get rid of the cross and any notion of rejection, and grow
and prosper and get rich in the process.
2. And in so doing, the Church is robbed of Jesus’ authority. Robbed
1. People want to be “woke” now, so they will be thought well of by the
1. Many churches will “do good” in the community—as the world defines
“good” and as long as they don’t have to bear the reproach of Jesus.
2. And they’ll preach anything except the offensive, scandalous
message of the cross, which both brings to light sin and sets God’s grace
as all in all, leaving no room for spiritual pride.
3. But if the cross and sharing in Jesus’ rejection is obliterated
from the Church, her purpose, power, authority, reason for existing are
4. The bride’s husband is gone.
5. She is nothing but a whore, used and abused by lying shepherds who
get rich at her expense, while she clings to the lie that she is good.
6. She is blind.
7. The light within her is darkness, and how great is that darkness!
1. And what does she say to this?
1. “Are you saying that we who are righteous are blind?”
2. Nothing new under the sun.
1. But the Owner’s Son still has wounds.
1. He gives his body for bread.
2. He gives his blood for wine. Alleluia!
3. Forgiveness flows without a reason except that God is love.
4. Rejected, crucified love, risen to find those who didn’t want him.
5. There is his authority.
6. That’s the unmistakable Jesus-brand that ever lives in the true
7. To repent to Jesus’ authority is to take the love and live.
8. May this be rejection we all can live with.
1. Let us pray:
May ev’ry heart confess Your name,
Forever You adore,
And, seeking You, itself inflame
To seek You more and more!
Oh, may our tongues forever bless,
May we love You alone
And ever in our lives express
The image of Your own!
Text: Public domain
1. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your
hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.