Sermon Transcript – Grace Isn’t Fair

Series A – Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Sunday, September 20, 2020 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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0:28the holy gospel according to matthew the
0:3020th chapter
0:32glory to you o lord
0:35Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like
0:37a master of a house
0:39who went out early in the morning to
0:40hire laborers for his vineyard
0:43after agreeing with the laborers for a
0:44denarius a day he sent them
0:46into his vineyard and going out on the
0:49about the third hour he saw others
0:51standing idle in the marketplace and
0:53said to them you go into the vineyard
0:55too and whatever is right i will give
0:57you so they went
0:59going out again about the sixth hour and
1:01the ninth hour he did the same
1:02and about the 11th hour he went out and
1:04found others standing and he said to
1:06why do you stand here idle all day and
1:08they said because no one’s hired us he
1:10said to them
1:11you go into the vineyard too and when
1:13the evening came
1:14the owner of the vineyard said to his
1:16foreman call the laborers and pay them
1:18for their wages
1:19beginning with the last up to the first
1:21and when those hired about the 11th hour
1:23came each one of them received a
1:26now when those hired first came they
1:29thought they would receive
1:30more but each of them also received a
1:33and on receiving it they grumbled at the
1:35master of the house saying
1:36these last worked only one hour and you
1:39have made us
1:40equal have made them equal to us who
1:42have borne the burden of the day and the
1:44scorching heat
1:46but he replied to one of them friend i
1:49am doing you no wrong did you not agree
1:51with me for a denarius
1:52take what belongs to you and go i choose
1:54to give to this last worker as i give to
1:57am i not allowed to do what i choose
2:00with what belongs to me
2:01or do you begrudge my generosity so the
2:04last will be first
2:06and the first will be last this is the
2:08gospel of the lord
2:09grace mercy and peace you from god the
2:11father son and the holy spirit the
2:13blessed trinity you may be seated
2:16brothers and sisters we hear these words
2:19in our old testament text today
2:22god says of himself my thoughts are not
2:24your thoughts neither are my ways
2:26your ways declares the lord have you
2:29considered just
2:30how scandalous the gospel
2:34is is it any wonder that the apostle
2:36paul says to the gospel i am not ashamed
2:39of the gospel for it is the power of god
2:42unto salvation for all who believe the
2:45the good news that Christ has bled and
2:47died for our sins
2:49now if you’ve ever had conversations
2:51with atheists
2:52or maybe today’s modern manifestation of
2:55social justice warriors
2:57have you noticed that social justice
2:58warriors have no concept of
3:02or mercy or grace
3:05or forgiveness in fact they’re
3:06scandalized by the thought
3:08if you have a conversation with an
3:11about what Christ has done for us on the
3:15they might protest and you may have had
3:18conversations with people who’ve
3:19protested this way
3:20are you saying that if hitler
3:25confessed his sins and was forgiven on
3:27his deathbed that hitler
3:29is in heaven rather than hell
3:32and they’re scandalized by the whole
3:33thought of it could you imagine
3:35Jesus forgiving hitler oh i hate that
3:40i refuse to believe in a god who would
3:42forgive hitler
3:47and the problem is is that people think
3:49they’re basically good
3:51you know and not recognizing that the
3:54sins that they’ve committed
3:56well they rank up there with hitler if
3:59you remember the
4:00gospel text last week the guy the fellow
4:04well racked up a bazillion dollar debt
4:08that’s you that’s me
4:11each and every one of us have
4:13transgressed god’s holy
4:14law so severely that that is the debt
4:18that we have racked up
4:20so our gospel text today
4:23really builds on the scandal of all of
4:25this think of it this way
4:28we want things in life to be fair that’s
4:31what we want right
4:32at least in certain things and then in
4:34other things we want things to be just
4:37let me give you an example all right
4:39when it comes to
4:41professional sports what we expect
4:46is a fair playing field
4:49that no team has what we would call an
4:52unfair advantage and of course there’s
4:56scandals in sports history you know i
4:59think back to when
5:00a certain quarterback for the new
5:02england patriots
5:04may or may not have been involved in a
5:06scandal related to
5:08a playoff game with the indianapolis
5:10colts i was living in indianapolis at
5:12the time
5:13right and there were footballs that were
5:16deflated that were not at the proper
5:18pounds per square inch and so what the
5:21new england patriots they had
5:23an unfair advantage
5:26when it comes to sports we want things
5:28to be fair why because
5:30on the sports field what do we want we
5:32want the people who’ve put in the time
5:35who’ve done the work who have the talent
5:38who’ve got the moves
5:39have got the plays down we want them in
5:42a fair
5:43playing field to be able to rise to the
5:46and defeat those below them
5:50who haven’t quite put in the time and
5:52the effort the whole idea behind a
5:54championship is that
5:55you found a team that excels
5:59in doing great things
6:02other teams the reason why they fall by
6:04the wayside is because they don’t have
6:06what it takes so on an affair playing
6:10we expect the cream to rise to the top
6:14and the dross to fall to the bottom
6:17and the one thing we all hate and by the
6:19way i hate it
6:21are those sports leagues for kids where
6:24every team gets a championship trophy
6:27and no score is allowed to be taken
6:31this is nonsense this is ridiculousness
6:34we despise the idea now regarding
6:37fairness also
6:38think of it this way when it comes time
6:40for your annual review at work
6:42and it comes time for your performance
6:45and along with your performance being
6:48you expect to get a commiserate
6:51raise in your salary right oh we want
6:54everything to be fair we want the boss
6:56to notice
6:57i’m working harder than that guy i’m
7:00putting in the time oh that guy
7:02he calls in sick at least twice a week
7:04and have you seen his shoddy work
7:06so when it comes time for the annual
7:08review if that guy
7:10got the same raise as me
7:14oh you better believe it hr is going to
7:17be given a visit
7:18there’s going to be emails that are
7:20harshly written
7:22and everybody’s going to know that that
7:25not fair
7:30right and so we think that salvation
7:34kind of works the same way right
7:38lord Jesus i’ve given up dancing for you
7:41well you’re norwegian that’s not a big
7:46lord Jesus i’ve given up smoking and
7:50and i even cut back on the number of
7:52curse words that i use
7:53that’s what i do right and you expect
7:56that you’re going to have some kind of
7:57an in and of course you look at that
7:59poor fellow you know that guy comes to
8:00church what
8:01maybe once or twice a month and have you
8:03seen how he doesn’t dress
8:05up for Jesus the way i do
8:09you totally expect that when it comes
8:11time for salvation to be doled out
8:14there’s well maybe that guy might make
8:16it he has
8:17salvation but me
8:20i have super salvation
8:24right because everybody knows
8:28that’s what would be fair
8:32keep this in mind as we work our way
8:34through this text because the scandal of
8:35the gospel here
8:36is on display for us all to see Christ
8:40in our gospel text today the kingdom of
8:44it’s like so you know this is a metaphor
8:46it’s a parable
8:47it gives us a picture of what the
8:49kingdom of heaven is like it’s like a
8:51master of a house who went out early in
8:53the morning to hire laborers for his
8:55don’t make no mistake about it this guy
8:57is Christ
8:58that’s who’s doing the hiring here he’s
9:01the master of the house
9:02after agreeing with the laborers for a
9:04denarius a day he sent them
9:06into his vineyard you know these are
9:08you’re kind of like
9:09your cream of the crop construction guys
9:13worked it out with them they’ve got a
9:14union representative they sat
9:16down what are you going to pay us for
9:18your work i’ll give you
9:19one denarius for a day’s work no
9:22problemo that’s the going labor rate
9:26and so the union boss says okay sends a
9:28bunch of his best guys over to work
9:31the vineyard
9:34now going about the third hour he
9:37recognizes he’s going to need a little
9:39bit more help
9:41you’re not going to go with the union
9:42boss at this point when i lived in
9:43southern california there was a weird
9:45phenomenon you can see this
9:46in southern california i don’t i haven’t
9:49seen it here but i’m sure maybe there’s
9:50an equivalent to it
9:52if you go to home depot early in the
9:57you could usually find a group of guys
9:59kind of hanging out in the home depot
10:01parking lot
10:02these are your day laborers and trucks
10:04would show up and say i’ll take you you
10:05you and you and those guys hop in and
10:07they get they go for a day and they do a
10:09day’s worth of work
10:10all right so that’s what’s happening
10:14the the master heads off to the home
10:16depot he needs a few more
10:18laborers and here’s what it says
10:22you go into the vineyard too and
10:25is and here’s an interesting thing in
10:28the greek
10:29i know the your ersv says whatever is
10:32but the greek word is d chaos which
10:36just and whatever is just
10:39i will give you notice he doesn’t say
10:43he says whatever is just i will give to
10:47all right so they went going out again
10:49about the sixth hour
10:50and the ninth hour he did the same
10:54and now about the 11th hour he went out
10:57and found others
10:58standing 11th hour i mean you got one
11:00hour left of the work day
11:02one hour left of the work day and who’s
11:05he finding to go
11:06work in the vineyard at this point i
11:08mean these are the guys who didn’t get
11:11earlier in the day later in the morning
11:14early in the afternoon these are kind of
11:17your leftover dregs of
11:18of whatever and these are these are
11:20fellows here they have no expectations
11:23whatsoever of earning a denarius none
11:26maybe they’ll get enough that they can
11:28after work head over to the
11:30local bar and have a beer afterwards but
11:33i mean
11:34you know hey if this guy’s gonna pay me
11:36for an hour’s worth of work i mean
11:38at least when it comes miller time i can
11:41you know
11:41go off and enjoy a beer
11:45so he found others standing he said to
11:47them why are you standing here idle
11:49they said because no one’s hired us he
11:51said that you go into the vineyard too
11:53no negotiation here no negotiation
11:55there’s no discussion of price
11:57or nothing so when the evening came so
12:00now 12 hours of
12:02work day have gone by evening came the
12:05owner of the vineyard said to his
12:06foreman you call the laborers and you
12:08pay them their wages
12:09beginning with the last up to the first
12:12and when
12:12those hired about the 11th hour came
12:15each of them
12:16received a denarius a full
12:19day’s wage and you can kind of see how
12:22this is working okay you got them all
12:24lined up okay the guys who came in last
12:26they’re at the front of the line
12:28the guys who came in first they’re at
12:29the back of the line
12:31you see the last will be first the first
12:33will be last and so what happens
12:35guy number one who shows up for an hour
12:37who barely
12:39he did even broke a sweat if he broke a
12:41sweat at all
12:42he receives a shiny denarius a full
12:45day’s wage and what and he go whoa
12:48i got a whole denarius and you can see
12:51how this is going
12:52going down then the the news goes down
12:55the line
12:56and the guys that got hired at the
12:57beginning of the day are sitting there
12:59this dude’s paying at daenerys an hour
13:02this is going to be awesome no he’s not
13:06he’s not paying in daenerys an hour but
13:08you’ll notice the generosity of the
13:10fellow who shows up at the end of the
13:11day right
13:14so 11th hour came each of them received
13:16a daenerys now when those hired first
13:19came they thought they would receive
13:21more they’re thinking this guy’s paying
13:23a denarius per hour
13:24but each of them also received denarius
13:27and on receiving it they grumbled at the
13:29master of the house
13:30grumbled oh this guy’s worthless i
13:32cannot believe what a jerk this guy is
13:35this is not fair
13:38right where’s hr there needs to be a law
13:42we got to do something about this
13:43because everybody knows
13:45equal pay for equal work right
13:49that’s a slogan we hear a lot today
13:54oh boy well
13:57so they grumbled at the master these
14:00last worked
14:01only one hour and you have made them
14:05equal to us who have borne the burden of
14:08the day and the scorching heat
14:10oh there’s there’s the rub isn’t it that
14:13worthless fellow who only worked one
14:15you made him my equal i’m better than
14:17him i put in more work than he did
14:20and yada yada yada on it goes
14:23but now the master doubles down
14:27on grace and it’s wonderful so he
14:30replied to one of them
14:32friend and i always like to think that
14:35in the greek here
14:36this is a little bit of a different kind
14:38of friend
14:39in the greek this is more like hey buddy
14:42that’s that’s a little closer to what
14:44this is saying hey buddy
14:46i’m doing you no wrong did you not agree
14:49with me for a denarius
14:52well actually you did we negotiated that
14:54with your union boss this is
14:56you so take what belongs to you and go
14:59i choose to give this last worker as i
15:02to you am i not allowed
15:05to do what i choose with what belongs to
15:09or you do you begrudge my generosity
15:14so are you saying that if hitler
15:18confessed his sins on his deathbed that
15:20he’s forgiven
15:21and he has eternal life yeah
15:25well you’re you’re you’re making hitler
15:27equal with all the other Christians the
15:29Christians who were
15:30Christians their entire life you’re
15:31making hitler equal with him he has
15:33eternal life that’s just not fair that’s
15:35not right
15:36of course it’s not fair it’s just
15:41and here’s the reason why it’s just is
15:44because Jesus is the one who bore the
15:48who put in the day’s work languished on
15:51the cross
15:55the entire day
15:58it was his death his work his
16:02righteousness that saved miserable
16:04sinners like you
16:05and like me so that we can be saved
16:08whether we are saved as children
16:11whether we are saved on our deathbed
16:15so that we can be forgiven do you
16:18the fact that Jesus told that thief on
16:20the cross
16:21today you will be with me in paradise
16:24you’re making that thief equal with me
16:26and i’ve been i’ve been following you my
16:28whole life
16:29do you begrudge that then you’re
16:32scandalized by the gospel itself
16:35because Christ is generous in forgiving
16:39sinners and not giving us what we
16:44Jesus isn’t fair grace isn’t fair
16:48grace is just because Christ is the one
16:50who worked the whole day in fact a good
16:52way to think of it is this way
16:53Christ already did all the hard labor
16:57as you came into the vineyard he already
17:00put that shiny daenerys in your pocket
17:02before you even lifted a finger to do
17:05anything because that denarius was
17:08won for you by him and so he generously
17:12and freely forgives sinners
17:16like you like me
17:20and sadly
17:24for all of the despots out there he has
17:27bled and died for them as well
17:28even if they didn’t repent of their sins
17:31and that’s the tragedy of it
17:33the generosity of Christ and of the
17:35gospel extends to all humanity
17:38from sinful adam to adolf hitler to
17:42to stalin to name your most
17:46hated politician
17:50to even you
17:53even you i’ve said it before and i’ll
17:55say it again it’s a scandal
17:57it’s a scandal that bro is forgiven
18:00it’s absolutely scandalous the roseboro
18:04will someday walk into the new earth
18:10and there will be tax collectors thieves
18:13robbers prostitutes name the riffraff
18:16and they’re going to be looking and
18:18going oh my goodness
18:20Jesus is letting anybody in now
18:25and that’s the point so do not be
18:29ashamed of the gospel
18:31it is the power of god into salvation
18:34has bled and died for all and so we can
18:39with those who have faith have been
18:42given repentance and faith
18:44from the time of their infancy
18:47through their whole lives to those who
18:50on their death
18:51beds hear the gospel
18:54and the holy spirit quickens their
18:56hearts raises them from the dead
18:58and their sins are forgiven we can
19:00rejoice at the generosity of Christ
19:03that his forgiveness and eternal life
19:05and salvation
19:07is for anybody any time as long as they
19:11are still breathing
19:16i don’t think you can add too much to
19:17that so here again the words of isaiah
19:20seek then the lord while he may be found
19:24call upon him while he is near and he is
19:26near today
19:28scripture is clear Christ is clear where
19:30two or more gathered he is present
19:32Christ is here today to serve you he’s
19:35here to forgive you
19:37he’s here to feed you with his body and
19:38blood to assure you of his mercy and
19:41so prophet isaiah says let the wicked
19:44forsake his way let the unrighteous man
19:46his thoughts
19:47let him return to the lord so that he
19:49may have compassion on him
19:51and to our god for he will abundantly
19:54pardon i find it fascinating that there
19:57are people today who
19:59for whatever reason want a gospel
20:02without adverbs
20:04isn’t that weird stop talking about how
20:07free the gospel is talk stop talking in
20:10these superlatives
20:11and yet the prophet isaiah here says
20:13that god
20:14abundantly pardons
20:18do you need forgiveness today and i know
20:21you do
20:22note this that Christ is not handing out
20:24his forgiveness
20:25piecemeal well here’s two grains of
20:28grace for you
20:31instead he says here open your bag
20:34and he pours as much grace as you need
20:37and beyond
20:38into your bag today he abundantly
20:41pardons why because god’s thoughts are
20:44not your thoughts or my
20:46thoughts his ways are not our ways
20:49he is not interested in being fair when
20:53it comes to your salvation
20:58for as the heavens are higher than the
21:00earth so are my ways higher than your
21:03ways and my thoughts than your thoughts
21:05and you see the difference between us
21:08and god
21:10is that he freely forgives he gives
21:13people what they don’t deserve
21:15because Christ took what they deserve
21:19upon himself so that they can be given
21:22abundant pardon
21:23and grace in the name of Jesus
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