Listen to the podcast by Bishop Michael Rinehart.

This painting of Moses and the Ten Commandments, on wood is by the artist Barbara Goshu, a Polish national. She is lives with her husband, artist Worku Goshu in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The painting is in the private collection of the Goshu Art Galleries.

October 4, 2020 is Pentecost 18A/Proper 22A/Ordinary 28A

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 – The Ten Commandments
Isaiah 5:1-7 – My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

Psalm 19 – The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul… Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 80:7-15 – Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved. You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.

Philippians 3:4b-14 – Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.

Matthew 21:33-46 – The parable of the Wicked Tenants

Prayer of the Day
Beloved God, from you come all things that are good. Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit to know those things that are right, and by your merciful guidance, help us to do them, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. Jesus says, I chose you and appointed you
to go and bear fruit | that will last. Alleluia. (John 15:16)

Bread for the Wilderness

We are in the third week of a 5-week series entitled, “Bread for the Wilderness.” This time of pandemic is like a wilderness experience. What might we learn from the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness?

ComplaintExodus 16:2-15September 20God provides manna/quail as people complain
ProvisionExodus 17:1-7 September 27Moses strikes the rock and water comes out
LawEx. 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20October 4Moses receives the Ten Commandments
IdolatryExodus 32:1-14October 11Moses finds the Israelites worshipping a calf
GloryExodus 33:12-23October 18Moses sees God’s back, not face

Week 3: The Law
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Egypt, out of the house of slavery;3you shall have no other gods before me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…

7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work… 

12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13You shall not murder.14You shall not commit adultery. 15You shall not steal. 16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

18When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, 19and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” 20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”

 Our Exodus reading for this coming Sunday text omits verses 5-6 and 10-11, likely to keep the reading reasonably short for worship. 5-6 expound on the idolatry commandment. 10-11 expound on the Sabbath commandment: On the seventh day, you shall put no one to work, not your children, your slaves, your livestock, or even the immigrant. Then it ties the commandment to the six-day creation story in which God rested on the seventh day.

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On September 20 we were in Exodus 16, which some believe was near the Gulf of Suez, #5 on the map. On September 27, last week, Exodus 17, the Israelites camped at Rephidim, which is perhaps #7 on the map. Moses, Aaron and Joshua defeat Amalek at Rephidim in the remainder of chapter 17.

In chapter 18, Jethro pays Moses a visit. In a valuable lesson for leaders, Jethro helps over-functioning Moses, who is spending the day deciding cases. Jethro says, “You’re going to wear yourself out. Appoint judges over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Let them handle the cases. You just handle the tough ones.” Sometimes the in-laws can be helpful.

In chapter 19, we are told they are at the third new moon since the Israelites left Egypt, in other words, three months into their 40-year journey. On that very day they came to the Sinai Wilderness, camping in front of the mountain, perhaps #8 on our map. Keep in mind, this story may be set in actual, historical places, but we cannot be certain where they were.

Moses went up the mountain to get a word from God. “The whole earth is mine, but you shall be a priestly, holy nation, my treasured possession. Obey my voice. And the people said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” So far, so good.

This week we are in chapter 20, four chapters ahead of last week. Moses receives the Ten Commandments.

Numbering the Ten Commandments

While it’s generally accepted that there are Ten Commandments, they aren’t numbered, so different religious traditions divide Exodus 20:1-17 the parallel in Deuteronomy 5:4-21 in different ways. The number ten may have been chosen for the sake of memorization in pre-literate religious society. This chart from Wikipedia shows how different traditions have numbered the commandments. 

L in this chart is for Luther’s Catechism. Luther, an Augustinian, followed Augustine’s numbering (A), as does the Catholic numbering (C). This is the numbering that is most familiar to those who have gone through Lutheran Confirmation:

            Introduction: I am the Lord your God…

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.

T is the Jewish Talmud. The Talmud takes the introduction as the first word. You shall have no other gods and you shall make not graven image make up the second word. This means that the Sabbath commandment, 3rd in the Lutheran numbering, is 4th in the Jewish numbering.

R is for Reformed and LXX is the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). The Reformed numbering follows Calvin, who followed the Septuagint, so these columns are identical. This is also the numbering in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. This numbering makes “no graven images” a separate commandment. To keep it at ten commandments, this numbering combines all the coveting into one final commandment.

P is Philo, who also followed the Septuagint, but reversed murder and adultery. S is for the Samaritan Penteteuch, which adds a commandment about Mt. Gerazim.

There is no “right” way. It’s just good to be aware of this when in ecumenical circles, and when finding graphics. And know, if you reference the “fifth commandment” in public, some will take this to mean “do not kill,” some will take it to mean “honor your father and mother,” and some will have no idea what you’re talking about.

Preaching the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are part of catechism, and so they merit homiletical interpretation from time to time. One sermon won’t get it done, so some congregations do a series, either on Sunday morning, or during Lent from time to time. A sermon, or a sermon series, might remind people of the Ten Commandments, inviting them to memorize them. Make a bookmark. A sermon might also focus on the uses of the law.

A central hermeneutical principle in Lutheran theology and preaching is the distinction between Law and Gospel. The law is important, but it is not the gospel. The Bible is like the manger that holds the Christ child, Luther said. You have Baby and you have straw. You have to be able to distinguish between Baby and straw. Luther evaluated books of the New Testament based on their gospel content. Romans and Galatians got high marks. James, which has much law and little gospel, he called “an epistle of straw.”

In 1525, Luther wrote a treatise called How Christians Should Regard Moses. He regarded the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 as one of two sermons from heaven in the Bible. The second is Pentecost in wind and tongues of flame. In this treatise, he also distinguishes between two kingdoms, a temporal, tangible, visible government, and the spiritual realm of forgiveness and grace.

Luther claims the Ten Commandments are not binding on Christians, because they were given by God to the people of Israel. Luther loves and values the commandments. He expounds upon them in the Small Catechism, but he reminds us Christianity is not a religion of the law. He says this “on account of the enthusiasts,” those who would pick obscure laws out of the Bible and throw them in others’ faces. If we assume Moses applies to us, we will have to be circumcised, eat kosher, observe Jewish feast days, and so on. If someone throws a Bible passage in your face, just say, “I am not concerned with what Moses says,” Luther advises. This will drive literal Bible fundamentalists crazy of course. “The word in Scripture is of two kinds: the first does not pertain or apply to me, the other kind does.”

Nevertheless, Luther says, we must not sweep Moses under the rug. There are good things here. Of course we should not kill each other. Second, there is plenty of grace and promise in Moses. Third, there is faith and the cross in Moses.

The Formula of Concord VI, says there are three uses of the law. The first use is to rein in the wild behavior of disobedient people. Some people just need to be told. The second use is like a mirror, to make us aware of our sins, and drive us to the gospel. A third use was debated: the use of the law as a rule to regulate life. To this third use, this article makes six points:

  1. Believers are no longer under the curse of the Law, but the Law is not to be done away with. Like Adam and Eve, the Law is written on our hearts.
  2. The law should be preached with diligence, not only for the sake of the unbelieving or impenitent, but also on believers justified by faith.
  3. For regeneration is not complete, the Old Adam clings to us in this life.
  4. Works of the law are extorted by threats of punishment. They are not fruits of the Spirit.
  5. Fruits of the Spirit are works of the Spirit they emerge spontaneously and freely from the regenerate, without punishment or reward.
  6. The Law remains the Law, but the regenerate do good works with a willing spirit, and without constraint, reward or punishment.

Therefore, the Formula rejects the dogma that the Law is to be preached only to unbelievers, and need not be preached to believers. This is one of the reasons that the Old Testament was included in the Bible. Christians need not follow the Law like orthodox Jews, but awareness of the Law is instructive.

The apostle Paul said that the Law was our guardian (babysitter) until faith came. Those who live by the Spirit are no longer under the Law. This does not, for Paul, mean we should disobey the law. It means that the Spirit guides those who live by faith. Thus, Paul does not insist on circumcision, even though Moses says it is an “eternal covenant” between God and God’s people. Paul does not insist on Jewish dietary laws, or abstinence from meat sacrificed to idols in the pagan marketplace. The Law is for us a helper, a guide, no longer our disciplinarian. It is given for our benefit, not for our punishment.

For Christians the law of love is primary. If keeping a commandment causes you to hurt your neighbor or neglect your neighbor’s need, break it. Hence, Jesus healed on the Sabbath. “If your donkey falls in a ditch on the Sabbath would you not pull it out?” Compassion is the heart of the law: Love of God and love of neighbor.

Understanding the Ten Commandments

A sermon might take each commandment one-by-one, as Luther does in the Small Catechism. The catechism might be made available to worshippers, or left on the church porch during the pandemic. Another option is to encourage the congregation to download Augsburg Fortress’ Small Catechism app: , available in the Apple App Store and at Google Play.

The First Commandment: You shallhave no other gods.

What does this mean? We are to fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead that we use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.  

The Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and God’s Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but honor, serve, love, obey, and respect them.

The Fifth Commandment: You shall not murder.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God so that we neither endanger or harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help them and support them in all of life’s needs.

The Sixth Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God that we may lead pure and decent lives in word and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.

The Seventh Commandment: You shall not steal.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.

The Eighth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

The Ninth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors out of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and service to them in keeping what is theirs.

The Tenth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, man-servant, nor his maid-servant, or ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What does this mean? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, household workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and fulfill their responsibilities to our neighbors.

One cannot help but see the positive interpretation of the prohibitions. The seventh commandment does not simply prohibit theft. It asks us to help our neighbors “improve and protect” their property. We are not only to refrain from lying, but speak well of our neighbors. This eighth commandment discourages gossip, something every community should observe. The preacher could recite these, and commandments and invite people to repeat them at home.

            “What is the first commandment?”
“You shall have no other gods.”

Then the pastor can talk about the various gods we worship and how they lead us astray. The sermon can conclude with the good news of the gospel. Because regeneration is not complete, we are still under the sway of sin, but through the cross of Christ, God offers us forgiveness, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead us into righteousness, love and the fruits of the Spirit.

The Ten Commandments in a Pandemic

The Israelites had left their life in Egypt, just three short months ago. They were no longer under Egyptian laws, which had discriminated against them in every way, including permitting slavery. What would their laws be? Moses was deciding cases, because conflict always arise in human community. Deciding on the basis of what? When we are in the wilderness, a new, dangerous, unknown situation, getting down to the basics rules of the road is important.

In this new world, we also have new rules.

  • Don’t home leave without your mask.
  • Don’t go into the grocery without a mask.
  • Stand six feet apart from others.
  • Wash your hands when you get home, and frequently.

Rules like this not only protect us. They show love for others. Of course, we will need to interact. People need groceries, after all. Of course, some of us will get sick. This is inevitable. There is no shame in this. The key is to infect as few others as possible, especially knowing you will likely walk around for a week before you show symptoms and know you have been infected. You shall not murder. “We are to fear and love God so that we neither endanger or harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help them and support them in all of life’s needs.” The inconveniences are a kindness to others. Kindness is a value that sometimes gets left in the dust of a crisis.

It is always interesting to see how people behave in a crisis. It’s easy to be kind when everything is fine. When trouble arises, our selfishness tends to as well. The Old Adam rises up. Thanks be to God who has given us guidance for the wilderness journey, which is likely to be longer than we expect. Thanks be to Christ who has forgiven us in spite of our broken nature. Thanks be the Holy Spirit that fills us with fruits of the Spirit that sustain us for the wilderness journey.

Matthew 21:33-46 – Fruits of the Kingdom

33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” 42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? 43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

RCL gospel texts overview

  • September 6: Matthew 18:15-20 – Conflict
  • September 13: Matthew 18:21-35 – Forgiveness (The Unforgiving Slave)
  • September 20: Matthew 20:1-16 – Grace (Vineyard Laborers)
  • September 27: Matthew 21:23-32 – Humility (Two Sons)
  • October 4: Matthew 21:33-46 – Fruit (Wicked Tenants)
  • October 11: Matthew 22:1-14 – Expectation (Wedding Banquet)
  • October 18: Matthew 22:15-22 – Taxes (Render unto Caesar)
  • October 25: Reformation – John 8:31-36 (The truth will set you free.)

This week we hear yet another parable in our appointed gospel.

This is the third and final vineyard parable from this series in Matthew. The first was the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, then the Parable of the Two Sons (in the vineyard) last week. This week we have the Parable of the Wicked Tenants.

A word about allegory. Augustine (and Luther after him) interpreted the Bible allegorically, especially the Hebrew Scriptures.

Augustine did not find Exodus 23:18, (“You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk,”) edifying, so, he interpreted it allegorically, and Christologically: “Christ should not himself perish in the slaughter of the innocents.”

This may seem a stretch (and it is), but this was the pattern: rereading the Hebrew Scriptures in light of the church’s faith in God’s revelation of Jesus as the messiah. This would not withstand the scrutiny of modern historical-critical exegesis, but know this: Paul does the same thing with Sarah, Abraham, Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael, law and gospel.

Luther, as a Late Medieval Augustinian theologian, understood the Bible had more than one level of meaning. There were many, but four were standard. This is called the quadriga:

  1. Literal – the first meaning, the plain sense of the text
  2. Allegorical – how the text speaks to faith in Christ
  3. Tropological – the moral meaning, how we are to act
  4. Anagogical – the spiritual meaning that points to eternal significance

Following Augustine, Luther interpreted the Old Testament Christologically, as can be seen in his commentary on the Psalms. It must be noted that this is not unique. It is typical of biblical hermeneutics in the Late Medieval period.

Forgive my excursus, but it seems clear that Matthew wants his readers to understand this story allegorically, and most likely Jesus did too.

Jesus speaks in riddles, parables, allegory, metaphor, simile and other figures of speech. At one point the disciples get so frustrated, they ask him to please speak “plainly.” Allegory is a common tool for mystics.

Even the characters in this text know this parable is an allegory. We see this in verse 45: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.” The Pharisees recognize that although he is telling a story, they are the brunt of the joke. This isn’t really about some imaginary wicked tenants. It’s about them.

Even without Matthew explicitly telling us, if we follow his practice of using Scripture to interpret Scripture, we are led to the inevitable conclusion that Jesus is telling a story about one thing, while clearly meaning another. The tenants are the chief priests and the Pharisees.

Following this through, God is the landowner who sent the slaves/prophets, who were in turn beaten, stoned, and killed. God’s messengers are treated with violence. The killing and stoning of the prophets is made clear again in Matthew 23:25, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning all those sent to you…” This is a running theme in Matthew (and Isaiah). Prophets were stoned then, and still are today.

God sends the prophets to the people to call them to bear fruits of repentance – justice and mercy, the weightier matters of the law – but God gets only more violence. Over and over. This is the story of the world. God calls us to love. God calls us to create a society where people are fed. Instead there is violence. Jesus saw it in his day. There was the violence of the Roman Empire (torture and death by crucifixion, massacres, and so on) and violence by those who wanted to overthrow the Roman Empire (terrorists like the Sicarii and the Zealots).

Matthew’s Jesus is recalling Isaiah 5:1-7, our first reading from the Hebrew Scriptures. This text highlights the people’s ingratitude and lack of fruitfulness, as well as Yahweh’s troubled relationship with Israel (David Garland, Reading Matthew: a Literary and Theological Commentary, p. 221).

According to Emerson Powery,

Culturally, the leasing of land to tenant farmers was a common experience in the first century. Landowners could expect tenants to turn over (a portion of) the crop (cf. 21:34). Those who failed to meet the landowner’s standards would be removed from the land and landowning elite could usually pay others to remove them forcefully if necessary.

Do we have the courage to prophetically denounce the same pattern in our society? Consider the amount of money we spend on “defense” compared to the amount we spend feeding a hungry world.

Martin Luther King had the audacity to name the racist structures in U.S. society, culture and law. He had the audacity to proclaim a hope that one day race won’t divide. He too was stoned to death.

Finally in our parable, the landowner sends his own son. They seize him, throw him out of the vineyard, and kill him. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the son is (although we have plenty of them in Houston to ask, if necessary). Jesus’ crucifixion is the logical outcome of a society bent on violence. Jesus is an archetype for the suffering of this world, the falsely accused, the powerless, the victims of violence and hatred.

This is true of all who follow in his footsteps. How many gentle peacemakers have met a violent death? If you criticize or try to reform a system that is causing suffering, those benefitting from that system will be furious. You have threatened their sweet deal. As in this parable, the tenants will rise up and eliminate that threat.

There are many who believe we cannot fully understand the Scriptures until we hear them interpreted by those who suffer poverty, political oppression and hatred. Reading the Bible with refugees and immigrants surfaces new revelations. We all read the Bible from our social position. Someone who was raised in poverty understandably hears the stories differently than one who has inherited $50 million.

I love how Jesus ends his Parables with questions that force the listener to painfully acknowledge the point, like after the Good Samaritan: “Who do you think was the neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” “The Samaritan, I suppose.” In this text: “What do you think the landowner will do about it?” Jesus invites his listeners to ponder the question. What should God do about injustice? The high priests have to grapple with the answer. This is a parable of judgment. “He will put those wretches to death,” – and here the chief priests and Pharisees start to squirm a bit – “and lease the vineyard to someone else, someone who will bear fruit.” “They condemn themselves with their own mouths.” (Garland) This is a tough text for those who believe in judgment “lite.”

It might be enough for Jesus just to shrug and let them come to their own conclusion, an inductive way of teaching, but Jesus chooses to punctuate his point: “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” This is almost as bad as last week’s punch in the gut: “Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Jesus does not mince words. He is clearly critical of the corrupt, arrogant religious establishment that is not bearing fruit, and he is on the side of those who have been ostracized by the self-righteous.

What is the fruit of the kingdom? Read on in Matthew: Feeding the hungry, providing water for those who need it, welcoming strangers, visiting the sick and imprisoned. Or read back in Matthew to the things Jesus refers to as “the weightier matters of the law,” the Micah 6:8 stuff: justice, compassion, humility. These are fruits of the kingdom Jesus finds wanting in the scribes and Pharisees.

We can imagine the workers in the vineyard to be the chief priests and Pharisees, but if we want to bring the parable to bear upon the present, we should imagine they are us. What does this story mean for us today? Stories are meant to have living implications for those who hear them. How do you hear this?

Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez spoke out against corruption and violence in El Salvador. For this he was imprisoned and beaten. Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero (who, by the way, Bishop Gomez once told me confirmed him) spoke up for justice, and was executed by the death squads (wicked tenants) while saying mass. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if only you knew the ways of peace.

Are you speaking out against injustice? There is plenty to go around. Are you speaking up for the voiceless and powerless? If not, why not? Are you bearing witness against the violence both of the state and of those who wish to overthrow the state? Have you been thrown in prison for your prophetic voice? If not, why is that? Have you been willing to risk mild criticism on behalf of the poor, the widow, the orphan or the stranger? We are invited not just to believe in Jesus, but also to follow him.

This Jesus who is the cornerstone, is also a stumbling block for some.

Okay, an edgy text. So where’s the good news here? This is a parable of judgment. Sounds like bad news to me. We never take a text, however, outside of the greater context of the entire narrative of Matthew, and also the whole Bible, in which it resides. Here is good news: The vineyard owner cares. The vineyard owner is not an ambivalent deistic Prime Mover watching “from a distance.” This Vineyard Owner is going to do something that involves his son and a re-leasing of the vineyard. Warning: You might be part of this plan.

The good news is that God is calling all people to be part of the work in the vineyard, no matter what hour it is. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. The good news is that the Vineyard Owner will bring about the Reign of God, in time. It will be built upon a cornerstone that the builders rejected. That which appeared to have no value apparently is of ultimate value.