Sermon for Proper 21 09/27/20
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Exodus 17:1-7; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32
A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all circumstances would say: My king, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect, no mistakes!
One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty from losing a finger. Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman said, “Is God good?” If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost my finger.
The slave replied only “My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and he knows the “why” of all these things. What God does is perfect. He is never wrong!”
Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave. Later, he left for another hunt and was captured by savages who made human sacrifices. While on the altar, ready to sacrifice the noble, the savage found that the victim had a missing finger and so he was released. According to them: “He was not complete to be offered to the gods.”
Upon his return to the palace, the king authorized the release of his slave to whom he said very affectionately: My dear, God was really good to me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a single finger, I was let go! But I have a question: If God is so good, why did he allow me to put you in jail?
“My King, if I had gone with you on this hunt, I would have been sacrificed for you, because I have no missing finger. Therefore, remember: everything God does is perfect. HE is never wrong.
Often we complain about life and the negative things that occur to us, forgetting that nothing is random and that everything serves a purpose.
Every morning, offer your day to God. Ask God to inspire your thoughts, guide your actions, that all you do serve His purposes.. And do not be afraid. God is never wrong!
God knows, He knows why, and God is never wrong!
In Exodus, we have the testing of God by the people, who needed water, and they complained over and over to Moses. God told Moses to go ahead of the people, but take some elders and he be at the rock at Horeb and He would be in front of him and to strike the rock and the water would come out of it for the people to drink. He did this in the sight of the elders and called it Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and they tested the Lord saying,”Is the Lord among us or not?”
In Philippians, Paul wrote this letter from prison, and he is talking to the church in Philippi, that if they feel united with Christ; if they feel tenderness and compassion for others; if they have the same love, being one in spirit and purpose, then they are to do as Jesus did, by keeping the attitude of humility always in the forefront of their minds, not looking towards their own interests, but for others. He then tells them that it is God working in you to exercise His will and to act according to His good purposes.
Our Gospel message from Matthew this morning is centered on authority and obedience. Jesus had entered the Temple courts, and while he was teaching, the chief priests and elders of the people challenged Him as to His authority to teach and preach and who had given Him this authority?
Jesus said, “Let me ask you a question and if you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” His question was, “John’s baptism—-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”
The chief priests and elders discussed it and said, “If we say, ‘From Heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ we are afraid of he people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ So they simply said, “We don’t know.” Jesus’ response was, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things!
Then Jesus went into the parable of the two sons, where the first was told by his father to go today in the vineyards, and he said, “No!” Then he went anyway, whereas the second son was told the same thing and said, “I will go,” but never went. Jesus asked which son did what the father asked and they said, the first, and he said they were right.
Jesus said to them, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom ahead of you. John came to you to show you the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even when you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Beloved, faith can move mountains, even the mountains of our unregenerate nature. Answers to prayers are correlated with the measure of faith by the one praying. Jesus’ actions revealed He assumed God’s authority over the Temple and over nature. He did not verbally claim such authority knowing that would lead to a premature arrest.
What God wants is actual obedience, not just lip service. The kingdom of God is entered by faith, not by prior rank or social standing.
In short, Matthew’s message is that we must focus on Jesus, making our response to Him the central issue. He wrote this for a church whose members had differing opinions about important issues. So too, today’s church members may disagree on some issues, but Matthew wants us to look beyond the issues that divide and center instead on Jesus and His teachings.
Remember, God knows; He knows why, and He is never wrong! Amen
Rev. Jerry Lyle