daily biblical sermons


The kingdom of God was taken from Israel, because of their unfaithfulness, and given to Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the 27th Sunday of the Year, October 08, 2023
Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 79 (80), Philippians 4:6-9, Matthew 21:33-43


Biblical citations are 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. Afterward 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 was 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 about how the kingdom of God was taken from Israel and given to Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ. It was taken from them because they did not produce fruit that satisfied God, who gave them so many advantages, making them his chosen people, revealing his law to them, and sending them his prophets. After all this he expected good fruit to come from them, namely love, faith, devotion, and zeal for his law.

 

 

What happened, though, in many cases was that the chief priests and scribes, irritated by how the prophets criticized them for their unfaithfulness towards God, persecuted the prophets and even killed the Son of God, the Messiah.

 

 

In this parable the owner of the vineyard represents God, the vineyard workers represent Israel, and the servants of the owner whom he sent to the tenants to get his share of the fruit were the prophets and apostles. Finally the owner sent his own son to them to get his share of the fruit from his vineyard, and the tenants killed his son. That is, they killed the Son of God, for the son of the owner represents the Messiah, and the owner of the vineyard represents God. Being the son of the owner he is the Son of God, whom the tenants killed.

 

 

So Jesus ingeniously asks the chief priests and scribes what the owner will do to those tenants when he returns. At this point Jesus had not yet explained that the tenants were the chief priests and scribes, and so the chief priests and scribes did not realize that he was talking about them. So the chief priests and scribes said, “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” (Matthew 21:41).

 

 

Then Jesus says that he agrees with them, saying, “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 21:43).

 

 

So we see in this parable that God gave the Jews salvation, for gave them this vineyard that they were to work in and give God his share of the fruits. But we see that they lost their salvation by their evil behavior and especially for killing God’s Son, their Messiah.

 

 

So what does this parable mean for us? It means that we too can lose our salvation. We should not think that if we put our faith in Christ and are therefore justified by God by our faith, because of what Christ did for us on the cross, that we are therefore eternally secure and cannot lose our salvation.

 

 

This parable, together with many other scriptures, teaches us that we can lose our salvation by rejecting God, as the Jews lost it by killing the Son of God and the prophets. Those who are saved are those who put their faith in Christ, and anyone in the world can do that. Everyone is free to believe in Christ. God gives everyone in the world the grace they need to put their faith in Christ and be saved by him. This is because Christ’s death was for the whole world so that anyone who puts his faith in him would be saved.

 

 

God gives everyone the grace needed to put their faith in Christ, and we are free to accept or reject that grace. We are free to put our faith in Christ or to refuse to put our faith in him.

 

 

Furthermore once we are saved by our faith in Christ and justified by God we can lose our salvation if we do not persevere in our faith and in a moral way of life to the end of our life. It is not true that once saved, always saved. We must live a faithful life to our death. If we apostatize and renounce our faith, which we authentically had, we lose our salvation.

 

 

Yes, we may fall into sin, but if we quickly repent, express our sorrow, fully intend not to commit this sin again, and ask God’s forgiveness, he will forgive us and if necessary re-justify us and restore our salvation.

 

 

It is false to say that the Jews did not put Christ to death, but rather the Romans crucified him, for this was all done at the instigation of the chief priests and scribes.

 

 

Let us therefore not be like the tenants in this parable. The kingdom of God was taken from them and given to us Gentiles who believe in the Messiah. Let us live faithful lives, following God’s biblically revealed moral law and produce the fruit that God desires from us, namely love, dedication, obedience, and faithful living to the end of our life. Those who do this will be saved.

 

 

Those that think they are saved and eternally secure, because they once put their faith in Christ but then live a diabolical life are mistaken. They had a false assurance, for they lost the salvation that they once genuinely had.

 

 

We can have true salvation and yet lose it, as the Jews did in this parable. We must always be watchful lest we turn away from God and apostatize. Rather we must be faithful workers in the Lord’s vineyard.

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