Sermon Transcript – The Last Will Be First

Series A – Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost – Sunday, September 21, 2014 | 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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Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy Gospel According to Saint
0:30Matthew chapter 20 verses 1 through 16.
0:37for the Kingdom of Heaven is like a
0:39landowner who went out early in the
0:41morning to hire men to work in his
0:44he agreed to pay them a Denarius for the
0:46day and sent them into his Vineyard
0:47about the third hour he went out and saw
0:50others standing in the marketplace doing
0:51nothing he told them you also go and
0:54work in my Vineyard and I will pay you
0:56whatever is right
0:57so they went he went out again about the
1:00sixth hour in the ninth hour and did the
1:01same thing and about the 11th hour he
1:04went out and found still others standing
1:06around he asked them why have you been
1:09standing here all day doing nothing
1:12because no one’s hired us they answered
1:14he said to them you also go and work in
1:17my Vineyard and when the evening came
1:19the owner of the vineyard said to his
1:21Foreman call the workers and pay them
1:24their wages beginning with the last ones
1:26hired and going on to the first the
1:28workers who were hired about the 11th
1:31Hour came and each received a Denarius
1:33so when those who were hired first they
1:36expected to receive more but each one of
1:39them also received a Denarius when they
1:41received it they began to Grumble
1:43against the landowner these men who were
1:46hired last worked only one hour they
1:49said and you have made them equal to us
1:52who have borne the burden of the work
1:54and the Heat of the day
1:55but he answered one of them friend
1:58I’m not being unfair to you you didn’t
2:01you agree to work for Daenerys take your
2:03pay and go I want to give the man who
2:06was hired last the same as I gave you
2:08don’t I have the right to do what I want
2:10with my own money or are you envious
2:12because I am generous so the last will
2:16be first and the first will be last this
2:19is the gospel of the Lord
2:24in the name of Jesus
2:26all right so the last will be first and
2:29the first will be last I don’t know
2:30about you but that phrase has always
2:32confused me
2:33I don’t get it I I having studied for
2:37this sermon translated it from the Greek
2:39I still wanted it’s still one of these
2:41things that I’m having a hard time with
2:43and there’s a reason why the reason why
2:46is because this goes against everything
2:49that is the desires of my sinful nature
2:53we think here on Earth and this is how
2:57it works you work hard you get ahead you
3:01work hard you’re better than the next
3:03guy you work hard you have power over
3:07the next guy
3:08your status is all locked up in those
3:11things right
3:13but here Jesus flips everything on its
3:15head and says the last will be first and
3:17the first will be last and he says this
3:19is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like
3:22and you just go really really really
3:26the answer is yeah really yeah and I
3:28struggle with this
3:30so let’s
3:32talk about this text by putting it back
3:35in context and you’ll notice I there’s
3:37certain things I say over and over again
3:39one of the things I say is the three
3:41rules for sound biblical exegesis are
3:44context context and context so this is
3:49one of those passages if you notice a
3:51lectionary here we skipped ahead a
3:53couple of chapters you know in and this
3:55is the assigned reading but in order to
3:57understand what’s going on in this text
3:59regarding the first being last and last
4:01being first we actually have to go back
4:02into chapter 19. spend a little bit of
4:05time there and then move forward so
4:07we’ll be done about one o’clock this
4:10no I’m joking I’m joking it’s really two
4:13o’clock anyway okay so we’re gonna start
4:16at verse 16. and we’re going to take a
4:19look at the bigger context here because
4:21this this Parable shows up you notice
4:24the first word in chapter 20 is four
4:26four the Kingdom of Heaven it’s like
4:28this well that means there’s something
4:30going on in the context so if you have
4:31your Pew Bible Matthew chapter 19 I’ll
4:33start at verse 16 and we’re going to
4:35hear a very familiar passage now a man
4:38came up to Jesus and asked teacher what
4:41good thing must I do to get eternal life
4:49bad question okay now a little bit of a
4:53note here you’ll notice in the gospel of
4:55Matthew if you were to actually go and
4:56read it and kind of search for this
4:57everybody who was a true disciple of
4:59Jesus always refers to Jesus as what
5:05this guy comes to Jesus and he calls him
5:09teacher this is kind of a weird thing
5:11about Matthew’s gospel and this is this
5:13kind of sets this up a little bit here
5:15this guy is coming to Jesus and treating
5:17him as if he’s like a teacher of the law
5:21What do teachers of the law do when you
5:23ask them questions they point you to the
5:26law Jesus kind of rebuffs this guy a
5:29little bit but goes ahead and plays
5:31along and hit in kind of like round one
5:33of this of this exchange it says all
5:36right fine you want to treat me like I’m
5:37a teacher and I’m not Lord okay fine I’m
5:40going to answer as a teacher and you’re
5:42not going to be satisfied because the
5:43question itself there’s a major problem
5:44what must get what good thing must I do
5:48to get eternal life
5:50guy wants some kind of assurance of
5:52Salvation eternal life and he’s looking
5:53to himself and the things he’s doing for
5:55this for this assurance well that’s no
5:57place to look but so Jesus plays along
5:59and says why do you ask me about what is
6:01good Jesus replied there’s only one who
6:04is good
6:05if you want to enter life obey the
6:08well the guy’s not satisfied with this
6:12yeah any old teacher of the law can give
6:15me that answer so he fires back round
6:18two well which ones the man inquired
6:22so Jesus replied all right do not murder
6:24do not commit adultery do not steal do
6:26not give false testimony honor your
6:28father mother love your neighbor as
6:33now notice something about that list
6:36those are all second table of the Ten
6:39Commandments Ten Commandments has two
6:41tables table Numero Uno has to do with
6:45ours standing before God you will have
6:47no other gods before me honor you know
6:49remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
6:51right okay do not take to the name of
6:53the Lord your God in vain these are the
6:55Commandments regarding God
6:57now the ones do not murder do not steal
7:00do not commit adultery that’s how we
7:02treat each other love God love neighbor
7:04in this first list that Jesus rattles
7:07off to this young man
7:09Jesus goes with all second table stuff
7:12how we treat each other
7:15the guy’s still not satisfied with this
7:17answer all of these I’ve kept the young
7:20man said what does what do I still lack
7:24I don’t I’ve already been doing all of
7:26that come on Jesus give me an answer
7:28that is useful here you see the problem
7:31is is that
7:32he’s come to Jesus as teacher not Jesus
7:36so Jesus goes ahead at this point even
7:39though the guy has come to him and is
7:40treating him as if he’s just any old
7:42teacher Jesus now is going to start
7:44acting as Lord
7:46Jesus knows this guy’s problem his
7:48problem is that he is an idolater
7:52and here’s what it says Jesus answered
7:55all right if you want to be perfect
7:57go sell your possessions give it to the
8:00poor and you will have treasure in
8:01heaven and then come follow me
8:05to follow Jesus is to acknowledge Him as
8:08Lord not teacher right
8:12and by the way this is not some general
8:14command if you want to be a Christian
8:16that means you have to go and sell all
8:17your possessions and give it to the poor
8:19that’s yeah that’s not what this text is
8:21saying and this particular guy’s case
8:24Jesus is getting to the heart of the
8:26matter the heart of the matter is is
8:27that this man loves his money
8:29he loves his wealth he loves his
8:31possessions the one who has a lot of
8:35well he’s often tempted tempted to
8:38believe that he’s self-sufficient but
8:40Jesus says the greatest in the Kingdom
8:41of Heaven are the little ones the little
8:43children the ones who only receive so
8:46the guy the young man heard this and he
8:48went away sad because he had great
8:50wealth then Jesus said to his disciples
8:53here’s the fun part I tell you it is
8:55hard for rich man to enter the kingdom
8:57of heaven
8:58again I tell you it’s easier for a camel
9:00to go through the eye of a needle than
9:01for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
9:04and when the disciples heard this they
9:06were greatly astonished and asked well
9:07who then can be saved
9:10notice this statement on the part of
9:12Jesus that it’s difficult for a rich man
9:14to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is
9:15causing their theology that they are
9:19assuming to be challenged
9:21I mean doesn’t it make sense you do good
9:24things God says oh good boy here’s some
9:27more stars on your star chart and I’m
9:29going to reward you with riches here on
9:31Earth so the most holy and Pious Among
9:35Us are those who are wealthy right
9:40that’s how people think is it not
9:45is that not how we sometimes pray we
9:48find ourselves in financial distress oh
9:51Lord I promise if you rescue me from
9:55I promise I’ll pray three times no okay
9:58two and a half okay I’ll pray at least
10:00once a day
10:02right isn’t this how that we’re bargain
10:03with God
10:06we take a look at our current search
10:08circumstances we find ourselves in
10:10financial need and we start bargaining
10:11with our piety
10:13we’re all guilty of this
10:15I know I am
10:18so the disciples hear Jesus saying that
10:20it’s it’s easier for a camel to go
10:22through the eye of a needle which is not
10:24going to happen
10:25then for a rich man to enter the kingdom
10:27of God
10:28who then can be saved Jesus looked at
10:29them and said with man this is
10:32but With God all things are possible pay
10:35attention to this with man this is
10:36impossible what’s impossible
10:40it’s impossible for a man to save
10:43who then can be saved with man it’s
10:48you can’t save yourself by your good
10:49works period
10:52you think that somehow your
10:55prayers your Bible reading your tithing
10:59your offerings the time you spent
11:02engaging in social justice helping
11:05people if that you believe that your
11:07those things earn you salvation
11:12you are in
11:13deep kimchi
11:17with man it’s impossible you cannot save
11:20yourself by your good works but With God
11:23all things are possible so Peter
11:25answered him and now we’re starting to
11:26get into the greater context we’re
11:28starting to transition here now into uh
11:30our text
11:32Peter answered well Lord we’ve left
11:34everything to follow you what then will
11:36there be for us
11:37now Jesus’s answer is twofold
11:41he affirms the fact that Peter and them
11:45have left things to follow Jesus and he
11:49then also provides a warning and don’t
11:51think for a second that this makes you
11:53better than other people is what is is
11:55what’s going on here so Jesus said
11:57here’s his affirmation I tell you the
11:59truth at the renewal of all things when
12:01the son of man sits on his glorious
12:03Throne you who have followed me will
12:06also sit on the twelve Thrones judging
12:07the 12 tribes of Israel everyone who has
12:10left houses or brothers or sisters or
12:13father or mother or children or fields
12:15for my sake will receive a hundred times
12:18as much and will inherit
12:20eternal life important verb there
12:25doesn’t say earn it says inherit
12:29when you inherit something is it because
12:32you’ve earned it or because somebody has
12:35gifted it to you
12:37it’s because they’ve gifted it to you
12:39right an inheritance is something that’s
12:41given as a gift upon the death of The
12:45okay and notice eternal life is an
12:47inheritance it is not a wage a wage is
12:51something you earn an inheritance is
12:53something that is given so if eternal
12:56life is an inheritance who died that we
12:59can inherit such an amazing thing
13:03it’s Jesus so when you pay attention to
13:05the details of what’s going on here you
13:07begin to say okay I know I’m starting to
13:08get it
13:09so let me read this again here’s the
13:12positive side positive side everyone who
13:15has left houses or brothers or sisters
13:17or father or mother or children from my
13:18namesake will receive a hundred times as
13:21much and will inherit not because
13:23they’ve done these things but the
13:25inheritance is a gift they will inherit
13:27eternal life but many who are first will
13:29be last and many who are last will be
13:31first so we’re dealing with the person
13:33who thinks he’s better than others
13:34because he’s working so hard right so
13:38now we get into our text for the Kingdom
13:40of Heaven is like you see how it all
13:42works together now this is all of the
13:44thoughts hinge together the Kingdom of
13:46Heaven is like a landowner who went out
13:47early in the morning to hire men to work
13:49in his Vineyard he agreed to pay them a
13:52Denarius for the day and sent them into
13:53his Vineyard now the way Jesus tells
13:56this story there’s kind of like a
13:57tension that builds up I’ll kind of
13:59point it out so about the third hour he
14:01went out and saw others standing in the
14:03marketplace doing nothing he told them
14:04you also go and work in my Vineyard and
14:06I will pay you whatever is right he
14:08doesn’t say how much he’s going to pay
14:09pay them well we don’t know so you know
14:13you go out into the third hour
14:14hire these other guys he hasn’t said how
14:16much he’s going to pay them so then he
14:18went out again sixth hour ninth hour did
14:20the same thing about the 11th Hour okay
14:22with an hour left to work before the sun
14:24goes down
14:26he went out and found still others
14:28standing around he asked them why have
14:31you been standing here all day long
14:32doing nothing
14:34well because no one’s hired us they
14:36asked and answered he said to them you
14:38also go into my Vineyard has he said how
14:40much he’s going to pay him
14:41nope not a thing hasn’t said and so
14:45that’s kind of the big mystery ah okay
14:47there’s the setup there’s the tension
14:50so when evening came the owner of the
14:52vineyard said to his Foreman call the
14:55workers pay them their wages beginning
14:56with the last ones hired and going on to
14:59the first
15:01so the workers who were hired about the
15:0311th Hour these last guys who barely put
15:06in any work at all
15:10they came and each received a Denarius
15:14what they’re getting a whole day’s wage
15:18and these guys were sitting around doing
15:21nothing all day long and then they just
15:24happened to have this guy so graciously
15:27call them in and he pays really
15:34okay so when those who were hired first
15:37they expected to receive more
15:46I’m better than the guy who came in at
15:49the 11th hour because of what I’ve done
15:53I’m better I’ve worked harder I’ve
15:56earned more that’s the thought this is
15:59how we think so when those who were
16:01hired first they expected to receive
16:03more but each one of them also received
16:05a Denarius
16:07and when they received it they began to
16:09Grumble against the landowner not a good
16:12thing because who’s the landowner in
16:14this parable
16:15it’s God
16:20and here’s the rub these men who were
16:23hired last worked only one hour they
16:27said and you’ve made them equal to us
16:36that’s the thing about Grace is it makes
16:39us all equals
16:42for by Grace you have been saved through
16:45faith and this is not of yourselves it
16:47is the gift of God
16:50so that no man May boast Ephesians 2 8-9
16:54says right
16:56if it’s a gift you can’t boast see even
17:00the Denarius and his real sense here is
17:02a gift God just graciously gives out
17:05salvation he’s so gracious merciful kind
17:10extravagantly so
17:12friend of mine in the ministry he says
17:14God is promiscuously gracious it’s an
17:17interesting way of putting it right
17:19and you know what those who think that
17:21they are better than others because of
17:23how much work they’ve done they’re
17:25looking around and saying oh I’m better
17:27than him got her beat by a mile God’s
17:30got to love me more than that person
17:33yeah Jesus said no not at all
17:37in fact Jesus is making even the one who
17:41confesses Christ on their deathbed equal
17:44to the one who has been in The Faith
17:47from the time of their youth
17:51is this not the scandal of the Cross
17:53where Jesus is hanging being crucified
17:55and one of the guys one of the robbers
17:58on one side is keeping up abuses against
18:01Jesus and what does the one guy say
18:04knock it off we’re getting what we
18:08this man has done nothing wrong nothing
18:12and then he says to Jesus Lord remember
18:14me when you come into your kingdom
18:19now this guy just confessed he was
18:22getting what he deserved he was a thief
18:25spent his entire life sinning got caught
18:29and now was being executed for his
18:32doesn’t he deserve to go to hell
18:36he sure does so do I
18:39so do you
18:41but what does Jesus say to this one he
18:43says Lord remember me when you come into
18:45your kingdom Jesus says truly truly I
18:47tell you today will be with me in
18:51did he earn it what good work could he
18:54possibly do while being nailed to a
18:55cross to earn salvation
18:59he didn’t earn it at all
19:01Christ has made the thief on the cross
19:04to even the apostles
19:07that’s the scandal of it I remember
19:09years ago I used to work at focus on the
19:11family and um Ted Bundy remember Ted
19:15Bundy the serial killer it was a
19:17horrible story but uh he went on trial
19:20he defended himself and ultimately lost
19:22and they put him on death row remember
19:23all of that and then James Dobson went
19:25and met with him and I remember about
19:26that time people were talking about Ted
19:28Bundy and the guy confessed faith in
19:31Christ before he was executed
19:34and a friend of mine you know we were
19:37talking and he said you know this is one
19:39of the things that bugs me about
19:42do you really believe Ted Bundy’s in
19:44heaven I said well
19:47confessed Christ he believed that he was
19:49forgiven by what Christ did on the cross
19:52died for the sins of the world why
19:54couldn’t Ted Bundy be in heaven
19:57well see that’s the thing that bugs me I
19:59mean you just go and you know live like
20:03you know the devil and then at the last
20:06second he brought to repentance and you
20:08believe in Jesus and you’re in
20:11yeah that’s kind of the scandal of all
20:13of it isn’t it
20:15now don’t think for a second I’m saying
20:18well just go ahead and wait until you’re
20:19on your deathbed and then and then come
20:22see me or call me up and we’ll pray a
20:24prayer and get you in real quick
20:26no today is the day of salvation for all
20:29of us right but Christ be in his
20:31gracious Mercy has made it so that
20:34there’s no way for any of us to boast
20:36the one who thinks he is first will be
20:39made last
20:41all of us come into the Kingdom of
20:43Heaven as beggars
20:44spiritually poor bankrupt we’ve got
20:47nothing but Jesus because of his grace
20:49and mercy and love towards us he
20:52forgives us so that the last will be
20:54first and the first will be last and who
20:56was the one who was treated as the last
21:01he was the one who was the one treated
21:03like the last one
21:05he was beaten scourged whipped for our
21:09transgressions had his clothes strip
21:11from him
21:12beaten with a cat of nine tails right
21:16goes to the Cross God made him to be sin
21:19who knew no sin so that we might be the
21:21righteousness of God this is the gospel
21:24the one who became the least and the
21:26greatest servant of all God has now
21:29exalted and he now is the first king of
21:31kings and Lord of lords
21:33so if you think the Kingdom of Heaven is
21:34all about you and what you do you don’t
21:36understand it the last will be first the
21:37first will be last
21:39you get it the economy of the kingdom is
21:41not like anything here on Earth and I’m
21:44so thankful for that because it’s good
21:46news because even my piety fails yours
21:51does too
21:53my prayers fail at times Temptations I
21:56give into
21:57I can’t say that I’m the most productive
21:59worker in the kingdom of heaven and
22:01neither can you
22:02and yet God in his graciousness at the
22:05end of the day on the day of judgment
22:06will pay us all the same wage
22:09eternal life in him because it’s a gift
22:11not something we earn it’s an
22:14inheritance given to us because the one
22:16who is the one who’s giving it to us
22:18he’s died that’s Jesus Christ so the
22:21last will be first the first will be
22:23last and this is truly good news in the
22:26name of Jesus Amen
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