What are you jealous about? A sermon on Matthew 21:1-16a
What Are You Jealous About?
As you see the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus revealed in your life, may it cause great joy, such joy that you are completely content with all God has provided!!
Jealousy, the hidden beast
I can’t remember whose party it was, or the names of the guilty or innocent, but today’s parable of the vineyard brought it back to my memory.
There were two boys, about the same age, maybe somewhere between 3 and 5. One came from a richer family and had all the stuff. The other one, from a much poorer family. They were at the same gathering and were opening up gifts. Maybe it was Christmas, I don’t remember.
I just remember the richer kid taking the presents of the poorer kid because he wasn’t satisfied with his own. So the poorer child, using his imagination, began to play with the boxes the gifts came in, turning them into magical toys with his imagination. The rich kid came along again and took the boxes to play with. So, the poor kid used the wrapping paper out of the trash bag. Again, the rich kid, seeing the poor kid having more fun, tried to take the wrapping paper away.
Jealousy is an ugly thing. We recognize it with other terms, those like envy, and coveting.
We see it in the parable of the vineyard, where a merciful landowner decides to bless those who hadn’t found a day’s worth of work with a day’s pay. Even though the people who worked all day got the amount they negotiated for, the amount they worked hard all day expecting to get, they cried out, “it’s not fair!”
Like the rich kid never satisfied as long as the poor kid had fun, they couldn’t find satisfaction with the blessings of another person.
And they aren’t the only ones!
Could we be jealous of a baptism? They why lesser providence?
Last week, we got to witness David Herrera III’s baptism.
Can you imagine someone grumbling about that? Someone saying, hey, why is that child getting baptized, we should save that act, those moments in the service for someone who deserves those blessings! Can we imagine someone saying, no let’s never baptized anyone else, no one who isn’t baptized deserves to be!
Why in the world would anyone be jealous of God blessing another person? Of Him calling another person to be one of His very own people?
Can jealousy be that consuming? Can envy be so evil as to even demand that someone not is blessed by God? The Jewish people would be that way, ignoring all the promises of how us Gentiles would be saved by God.
That is what jealousy does, and if we shouldn’t be jealous of something as incredible as salvation, should we be envious of the little things God blesses us with in life?
What is it in us that makes us want to be blessed more than our neighbor? What is it that thinks they challenges aren’t as tough, that somehow, we would be more content with their lives, rather than the lives God has gifted us with?
**Can’t we find contentment with our salvation, and then realize that with that comes not only more than we deserve, but more than we desire?
You see that is the ultimate question, can we be content with our salvation, and simply trust God’s sense of what is just and right for the rest?
The deal is enough
As you look at the discontentment of these people that think they deserved what they earned, we need to see the work of the Lord, of the Landowner.
The first thing we see is that he went out to seek out these people. We hear the word hire and then the word sent, but the words have a bit more than that to them.
The word for hire comes from the word engage, to embrace these people. When he sends them out to work – he doesn’t send out hirelings, the word there is apostello – he sends them out with responsibility, with a mission.
We begin to see that more clearly, as all day long he recruits and engages these workers, giving them hope and a reason for the day, even when there wasn’t a hope when all around them seemed worthless when they seemed worthless.
The Landowner’s/Lord’s mission was not about hiring these people, it was about providing for them.
It was about benevolence, about grace, about caring for people.
That’s why the Landowner went into town, it is why the Lord comes to earth, and why He will never abandon us but always, always be with us.
When Pastor Mark, and deacons Bob and Mike and I study passages like this together, one of the questions we ask is, where in this passage is Christ crucified? Where does the relationship get restored between God and man.
Sometimes it is easy to see in a passage, sometimes it takes some time to think through.
In this passage, the cross is seen in this phrase,: 1 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out. The cross is seen in his engaging, in his embrace of the people he hires, whether they are those that believe and work hard from the beginning or those that spend the last moments of the day called by Him. It is in His relentless pursuit of hiring people, of calling them to receive the wage of His day, the wage they didn’t really have a right to, unless He called them.
This is the deepest lesson of grace, the greatest of entitlements that God determines we all should receive. That we would know His love, that we could share with Him eternity.
One last thought, for years I thought the good kid was the poor one, the one who found joy no matter what. I think, as I look at this passage, the child was wrong as well. What he had, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, he needed to share with his cousin. For what he had was joy, and that was what his cousin wanted more than anything.
May we share our joy, the joy that comes from knowing the peace of God because we are found engaged, embraced by Jesus. And no one can steal that joy away. For He keeps, He guards, our hearts, and souls, for they are His, bought with the price of His blood.