This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Meals with Jesus”.
You can listen to the study by clicking here
We are in a series called meals with Jesus. Meals are central to the mission of Jesus. He will share a meal with anyone. Tax collectors, Pharisees, multitudes. They are an incredible picture of the grace of God. Before Jesus ever picked up the cross, He picked up a fork and things started changing. Last week we talked about the Prodigal son and this week I want to finish up the parable by talking about the older brother.
Luke 15:25-32 (NIV)
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”
Last week I said that Grace is the hospitality of God to welcome sinners not because of their goodness but because of his goodness. And that the ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God.
The word in the Greek, khar ece means more than unmerited favor. It is something that brings joy. It brings pleasure. It causes us to be thankful.
The older brother in the scripture reading did not see the grace of God towards his brother as a joyful thing. We need to look at this because it is so easy for us to become like the older brother.
1. Who are you living for?
Here’s the deal. As Christians, we are a people of mission. We have a purpose. We are called to enter a vineyard, and labor in a vineyard with others and for others. Our mission must be a labor of love, not of selfishness. We are not to compare the amount or length of our labor against others. In our hearts we are to settle that what we do, we do for Him. I want to look at what I believe is one of the most heart revealing parable in the Bible.
Matthew 20:1-16 (NIV)
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. “He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ 9 “The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
a. How does that parable make you feel?
It doesn’t seem fair that people who worked one hour get paid the same as people who work all day.
b. What do you think Jesus reaction would be?
I can only imagine that Jesus would have been happy to see people who did not have work get some work, He would have thought that it was cool that they got paid more than generously, He would have been blessed that His service for the day was a blessing to them, and He would have loved them by rejoicing with them in their blessing.
It is really eye opening to see how selfish we really are. Not in a beat yourself up sort of way, but just in the reality of how far we still have to go in our journey.
2. It is not all about me
It is some about me.
1 Corinthians 15:48-49 (MSG)
48 The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. 49 In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends.
I like verse 49. In the way that we have all worked from our earthy origins…we have excelled at sin, selfishness, contempt – both self and other centered, we have approached life from the old dead way of thinking of our earthy origins, now in the same way, with as much enthusiasm and effort that you have put in the earthy ways, embrace His ways, heavenly ways, Kingdom of God ways. Life, full life, heavenly life, eternal life is available to you to experience now. Push into His presence every day. I am going to approach the throne of grace with confidence because I need it, not because I deserve it, but because I am desperate for His presence so that I can live the life He has created me for.
3. Don’t miss the grace of God
Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
If I don’t rest in God’s grace, I will become bitter and my life will have a negative impact on the lives of people around me. That is what happened to the Pharisees. They have missed the grace of God and are relying on their works and they are having a negative impact on the world.
God has given us His amazing grace and we have responded to it ahead of the rest, not instead of the rest. God’s heart is that everyone would experience His grace and receive His offer into His family. We can participate in God’s grace, or we can choose not to. Real life is found in living for Him in His grace.