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Sola Gratia

Matthew 20:1-16

Rev. John F. Wurst

The Lutheran Church of Christ the King  
Duluth, Minnesota

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 

"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)

Matthew 20:1-16

Septuagesima Sunday

Grace Alone

In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

On this Septuagesima Sunday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church traditionally preaches on sola fide, that is Grace Alone. The Gospel text for this day is rich with grace. Why so much emphasis on this doctrine of Grace Alone? St. Paul writes in his epistle to the Church in Ephesus, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Eph. 2:8)

Why the emphasis on the doctrine of Grace Alone? You're a sinner. You can't save yourself. The only thing you want to do is boast in your self, your abilities, and your good works. All you want to do is get something for nothing because you think you deserve it. You're no different than the workers in the vineyard in the Gospel text.

The landowner hires some workers, in the morning hours, to work in his vineyard. The work is identified and wage offered and accepted by the workers. Now, the landowner needs more help. So he goes out about third hour and hires some more workers. He offers them a wage for the work needed. They accept. Finally, as the day is drawing to a close, about the ninth hour, the landowner realizes he still needs more workers to bring in the harvest. So, he goes out about four o'clock and hires yet more workers. They accept. Finally, about the eleventh hour, he hires the remaining workers needed for the day.

When the work day was complete, the landowners steward called all the workers in from the field to receive their wages. Each worker received the same wage. Then the first workers complained. It's not fair! We worked all day and you're giving the same amount as those you hired an hour ago? What gives? You're not fair! You're an unjust landowner!

You are the workers that Jesus describes. You do not think He is fair. You work hard all your life and yet Jesus blesses your dead beat neighbor with greater bounty. You look at Jesus like some unjust Lord who forgives the sins of a sinner on his death bed yet makes you toil in this life for many many years. Face it, you hate God. You don't appreciate His blessings.

You live just like the Nation of Israel did when The Lord brought them out of captivity. You complain, complain, complain. The Lord's blessings are never good enough. He gives you food but it isn't filet mignon. He gives you a home but it doesn't sit on 25 acres with a pond. He gives you family and you tear them apart live wolves on a carcass. He gives you a pastor and you kill him for being faithful. Repent.

Jesus tells this parable to describe His grace toward you sinners. Grace. Now that's a loaded word in Christianity today. What is grace? How would you answer the question? Christians all over the world have difficulty explaining the grace of God but use the term like it's going out of style. In fact, Christians can't even agree on what grace is according to the Scriptures. Here's a good definition for you to learn by heart:

Grace is God's attitude in Jesus Christ revealed through the preached Word and the Sacraments to create and sustain faith in order that sinners may be forgiven and justified by faith. In other words, Grace is God's underserved gift to you through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Let me put it another way using accounting/banking terms. On the left side of your journal, you have your debits, that is, your good works, your daily living, your obedience, your faithfulness, etc. You are busy logging debits every day of your life. When Jesus comes on Judgment Day, all your debits will not get you into heaven.

On the other hand, when you look at your journal, you see one and only one entry on the credit side; Jesus.

Jesus' Baptism is credited to you.

Jesus' Word and promises are credited to you.

Jesus' betrayal is credited to you.

Jesus' trial is credited to you.

Jesus sufferings, beatings, mocking, and false charges are all credited to you.

Jesus' death is credited to you.

Jesus' resurrection is credited to you.

Everything Jesus is and has done in your place He gives to you free of charge. That's God's grace to you through His Son Jesus. All of Jesus' work, teaching, preaching, suffering, dying, and rising again from the dead are yours because God the Father is gracious and loving toward you for the sake of His only-begotten Son.

Because of Jesus, your name is written in the Book of Life.

Because of Jesus, your faith is nourished through the preaching & teaching of the Word.

Because of Jesus, you soul is nourished in the reception of Jesus' Body and Blood.

Because of Jesus, your sins are forgiven.

The workers in the vineyard were full of rage because they thought the landowner was unfair and unjust in the sharing of his grace to all the workers by giving everyone the same wage for their work.

Jesus is the unselfish Lord. He desires not the death of even of sinner. He came into the world to save all the lost and condemned of this world. He came for you, for families, your neighbors, your neighbors sitting next to you. Jesus came to save all people from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

The sad news is that their are those in the world who will reject His grace and will receive His judgment when He comes again in glory. The Good News for you is that the Father's grace is poured out through Word and Sacrament to forgive you of all your sins. The Father does this for you for the sake of His Son, Jesus, who stood in your place to atone for your sins and to redeem you back into full communion with the Father.

By grace! On this I'll rest when dying;

In Jesus' promise I rejoice;

For though I know my heart's condition,

I also know my Saviour's voice.

My heart is glad, all grief has flown

Since I am saved by grace alone.

(LSB 566, 6)

In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

+ SDG +

(C) Rev. John F. Wurst

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