October 8, 2017 Text: Matthew 21:33-46
Dear Friends in Christ,
We live in a society where everyone has to have the last word. Politicians in debates. Blowhards on cable news. Celebrities at award shows. But we know it is true in our backyard as well, isn’t it? In our arguments…I mean, “discussions.”
Having the last word validates our opinion. Having the last word reminds us that we are right and you are wrong. Do you ever regret having the last word? A time you hurt someone with that last minute zinger? A more regrettable scenario is when we try to have the last word with God. That can cut us off from the lifeline that we need. He wants to have a relationship with us, because, finally, when all is said and done . . .
“JESUS IS THE LAST WORD”
God had given his word, which could have been such a blessed last word. God had spoken to Israel, calling them his special people, giving them his unlimited goodness. The master of the parable gives a rich vineyard to tenants. He plants it, puts a nice fence around it, digs a winepress and builds a tower. If he could have done more he would have.
He then leaves the whole operation in the hands of his tenants, expecting them to labor and give a portion of their fruit.
This is a picture of what God had done for Israel. In God’s Word His promise was that He would shower them with blessings to all eternity. He gave His word and He would be delighted for that to be the last word.
The Lord has showered us with blessings like He did with Israel. I like to sit at my desk and write checks. Small checks for the summer natural gas bill and internet service. Large checks for college tuition and our mortgage. I do not do banking on the computer and Lord willing I will never have to. I enjoy this weekly exercise because it reminds me how blessed I am. We as a family have the money to pay all these expenses. I have been blessed and make more money than I ever thought sitting in my room in Argenta looking at my future in front of me. Do you see it the same way? Appreciate the Lord’s gracious hand upon your life?
God’s people rebelled and refused to bear fruit. So He sent His word again through the prophets. One after another to receive the fruit. But they kill and beat and stone. Any one could have been the last word: “All is forgiven! You are still mine?” Finally, God sent His Son. Surely this would be the last word and all will be well.
Like we are prone to do, Israel wanted to have the last word. Time and time again the tenants want the last word. They reject the last gracious invitation. They believe they have the last word by killing the son and claiming the vineyard as their own. This is the tragedy of Israel: killing the Lord’s prophets and finally killing Jesus.
Doesn’t that sinful desire to have the last word show up in our conversation with God? “Yes, Lord, I know what you say in the Sixth Commandment but we are really in love.” “Yes, Lord, I know you promise to provide everything I need, but I am holding back just in case.” “Yes, Lord, I know you love everyone, but you can’t expect me to forgive her!”
Jesus will have the last word with His opponents. Jesus gives His enemies one more chance to speak. He asks – they answer. They have just spoken judgment on themselves. Jesus gets the final word. There is nothing more to say and his enemies know it.
Do we ever try to excuse our sin before a Holy God? There is nothing we can say. We stand condemned.
But Jesus truly is the last word. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (v. 42) Jesus, the Stone, the Son, was rejected and killed. But in that moment, he spoke the last word: “It is finished.” His resurrection proved that death would not be the last word for us either. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus offers the kingdom to all who believe in Him.
God sent prophet after prophet to Israel. Christ continues to speak to us. In the preaching of the Last Word – Christ. The Word with water in Holy Baptism. By the Word, the Lord’s Table is the Last Word that delivers to us Christ’s forgiveness of sins.
By faith in Christ, the Last Word, believers do bear fruit, returning the Master his due. Believers will be known by the fruits we bear in the name of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit will prosper in God’s vineyard.
In a world where no one seems to let anyone have the final say, where all beliefs are given equal weight, where bumper stickers demand we “coexist”, Jesus does have the last word. Jesus finished it all on the cross. All that is left for us to say is “Alleluia” because the death and resurrection of Christ gives Him the last word to silence all opponents once and for all.