What if Jesus Told a Story about Your Life?
What if Jesus Told a Story about Your Life?
Sermon by Rick Crandall
(Prepared April 18, 2021)
*Today we will study one of the Lord's parables. But what is a parable anyway? The best definition I've ever heard is simply this: "A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." I really like that definition, and depending on which Scriptures you include, the Bible gives us about 40 to 50 of these short stories. Today's parable will help us take a good look at our lives from God's point of view.
*Most of us know that here in Luke 20, we are very close to the cross. In Luke 19, Jesus was about 15 miles away from Jerusalem when He passed through Jericho. That's where we find the wonderful report about Zacchaeus getting saved. And in Luke 19:10 Jesus tells us that He, "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'' Thank God for that!
*Luke 19 also tells us about the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But in vs. 39-48 that chapter ends on this tragic note:
39. And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.''
40. But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.''
41. Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42. saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
44. and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.''
*That prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D., about 40 years after our risen Savior returned home to Heaven. Historians estimate that over a million Jews were killed in that horrific siege and destruction of Jerusalem. (1)
*Starting again in vs. 45:
45. Then (Jesus) went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it,
46. saying to them, "It is written, 'My house is a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'''
47. And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him,
48. and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.
*Luke 20:1 tells us that Jesus was teaching those people and preaching the gospel to them. Matthew 21:14-15 tells us that Jesus also healed the blind and lame people who came to Him in the Temple. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful that things Jesus did, they were greatly offended.
*That's pretty amazing when you think about it, and it helps us understand how much they hated the Lord. They had been wanting and plotting to murder Jesus for over a year. And in this morning's Scripture those evil rulers confronted the Lord in the Temple.
*With this background in mind, let me ask you to think about the story of your life. What if Jesus told a story about your life? That's what He did in today's Scripture, and these religious leaders knew it. Sadly, it was a story of their rebellion against God, rejection of His Son, and their eternal ruin.
*But what if the Lord walked in here, and started telling a story about our lives? I know we all would want it to be the exact opposite of this story. And the good news is that it can be!
1. BUT FIRST WE MUST KNOW THAT GOD RECOGNIZES THE STORY OF OUR LIFE.
*The Lord surely knew the story of these men's lives, and He told it with a parable. In vs. 9-15, Jesus said:
9. . . "A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time.
10. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
11. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed.
12. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out.
13. Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.'
14. But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.'
15. So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. . ."
*William Barclay explained that the chief priests and Pharisees knew very well what Jesus intended to say to them in this parable. "The Jewish nation as God's vineyard was a well-known picture in prophecy. For example, Isaiah 5:7 says, 'The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, weeping.'
*So, the vineyard is the nation of Israel and the owner is God. The vinedressers are the religious leaders of Israel, who were responsible to God for the welfare of the nation. The messengers who were sent were the God-sent prophets who were so often rejected and killed. The Son who came last was the Lord Jesus Himself. And here in a vivid story Jesus set out both the history and the doom of Israel." (2)
*Jesus knew the story of their lives, and Jesus knows the story of our lives too. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that "there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
*God sees everything about us past, present and future. And He is always looking into our hearts and minds. In 1 Samuel 16, the Lord sent Samuel to anoint one of Jesse's sons as the new king of Israel.
6. So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him.''
7. But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.''
*That's why God chose the youngest son, David, to be the new king. God sees us inside and out. Everybody needs to know that.
*Sometimes we are like Gary Huckaby's daughter, Nikki. When she was about 3 or 4, Gary caught his little girl eating jelly out of the jelly jar. And Dad asked her, "Nikki, are you eating out of the jelly jar?" "No sir," she answered.
*"Are you sure you are not eating out of the jelly jar?" Church: She had jelly all over her face, on her fingers and in her hair! But again, she said, "No sir, I'm not eating jelly out of the jar." (3)
*Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that God can't see us. But the evidence of our sin is more obvious to Him than the jelly on Nikki's face.
2. THE LORD RECOGNIZES THE STORY OF OUR LIFE. HE ALSO REVEALS THE STORY OF OUR LIFE.
*You see, Jesus didn't just know the story of these rulers' lives. He wanted them to know the story, and He wanted them to know that He knew their story.
*Today, the Lord wants us to know our story. He wants us to know who we are, and where we stand with Him. God wants us to know the truth about our lives. And He will reveal the truth to us, mostly through His Word, and the Holy Spirit, but also through faithful Christian witnesses, through circumstances, and even through heaven-sent dreams.
*God will reveal the truth to us. But are we willing to listen? As far as we know, the vast majority of these chief priests and scribes were not willing to listen. Are we willing to listen to the Lord? God is here, wanting to speak to us. And He can do amazing things when we listen, even for a moment.
*Bruce Howell told an old story that demonstrates this truth. It was about a most ungodly bartender. Now this man really hated the gospel, but he liked music. And this was back in the 1700s, long before the days of 24/7 radio and TV. One day this man wanted to hear some music, so he decided to go to one of John Wesley's evangelistic meetings to hear the singing. But he stubbornly decided that he would not listen to the preaching.
*There he sat like an angry kid, with his head down and his fingers in his ears. But God sent a fly at just the right time. It landed on the man's nose. And when he tried to swat it away, he heard the 9 words that changed his life forever.
*It was Wesley quoting the Lord Jesus saying, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Amazingly, that was all it took. From that moment on the man had no rest in his soul, until he came back the next night, really listened, and got saved. (4)
3. GOD REVEALS THE STORY OF OUR LIVES. AND HE DOES IT SO WE CAN RECONSIDER THE STORY OF OUR LIVES.
*In these verses, Jesus gave those hard-hearted men another opportunity to see how wrong they were. The Lord wanted them to realize what a terrible, fatal mistake they were making by rejecting their Messiah.
*Jesus started in vs. 15-16 by asking the people a question:
15. . . "Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
16. He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.'' And when they heard it they said, "Certainly not!''
*Jesus told them these things because He wanted those men to reconsider their lives. And yes, Jesus knew that most of them would never trust in Him, but the Lord wanted them to take a good look and see the ugliness of their sin. Jesus also wanted them to see the terrible danger of their rebellion and rejection.
*So, in vs. 17-18, Jesus "looked at them and said, 'What then is this that is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone'? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.'''
*First here, we must understand that Jesus Christ is the stone in these verses. He is the one and only Rock of our salvation!
*Moses sang about our Rock in Deuteronomy 32:1-4:
1. "Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2. Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass.
3. For I proclaim the name of the LORD: ascribe greatness to our God.
4. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He."
*Four hundred years later, King David sang about our Rock in 2 Samuel 22:2-4:
2. "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
3. the God of my strength, in Him I will trust, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.
4. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies."
*Later in that same Psalm David said:
31. "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; he is a shield to all who trust in Him.
32. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?
33. God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect."
*Many other Psalms speak of the Lord as our Rock, and Jesus Christ is the one and only Rock of salvation! The New Testament confirms this truth in Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. There Paul was speaking about the Children of Israel, and he said:
1. Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
2. all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
3. all ate the same spiritual food,
4. and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
*Jesus is the Rock! And it is a terrible thing to fight against the Rock of our salvation!
*Here in vs. 17, we see the Lord's first reference to Himself as "the stone." This came from Psalm 118:22: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone."
*William MacDonald noted that the chief cornerstone was the most essential stone in a building, and it was held in the place of highest honor. John Phillips said the chief cornerstone "formed the bond between the two most important walls of a building. All of the lines of a building were determined by the chief cornerstone, so if that stone was out of square, the whole building would be off. The chief cornerstone was always cut with greatest care and was laid with a special ceremony." (5)
*Next in vs. 18, Jesus spoke again about Himself as a "stone," and He said, "Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.''
*This prophetic reference is from Isaiah 8:13-15, and William Barclay explained: "This is the picture of a stone which breaks a man, if he stumbles against it, and which crushes a man to powder, if it falls upon him. All of these Old Testament stones point us to the promised Messiah and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the foundation stone on which everything is built, and the corner stone which holds everything together. To refuse His way is to batter one's head against the walls of the Law of God. To defy Him is, in the end, to be crushed out of life." (6)
*Jesus spelled it out so clearly to them. He was giving them another opportunity to reconsider their lives, and God wants us to do the same thing.
*Dan Fowler said, "This parable gives us a good time for self-examination. Do our lives reflect Jesus Christ in what we say to others? In how we treat our family members? In how we respond to people in need?
*Are we close enough to Christ in our hearts, minds, and wills that we can be guided by Him in a consistent way? Are we growing more and more into the likeness of Christ? Or have we settled into a nice comfortable spot?" (7)
4. GOD WANTS US TO RECONSIDER THE STORY OF OUR LIFE. AND HE DOES THIS SO HE CAN REWRITE THE STORY OF OUR LIFE.
*Those hard-hearted men made the worst mistake anyone can ever make. They refused to listen to the Lord.
*They should have come to their senses, rejected their evil ways, turned to the Lord, and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But they did not, even after that last warning in vs. 18. Instead, these men dug their heels in and stubbornly continued to reject the Lord. And vs. 19 tells us that "The chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people for they knew that He had spoken this parable against them."
*Sadly, it is too late for them. But it's not too late for us! And it's not too late for people all around us. God wants us to live and speak in ways that will help them receive the Rock of our salvation!
*Jesus loves them too! He died on the cross for their sins too. And He rose again from the dead! People need to really hear that when you put your trust in Jesus Christ, He forgives all of your sins and gives you His eternal life.
*Jesus can completely rewrite the story of the rest of our lives, and that is what He wants to do.
*Peter explained how it works in 1 Peter 2, where he said:
1. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,
2. as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
3. if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,
5. you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.''
*Christians: Thank God that we have received the Rock of our salvation! And Jesus Christ is rewriting the story of our lives. But we must let God make us like those faithful servants we see in this parable, willing to do what He wants us to do, go where He wants us to go, and say what He wants us to say.
*Let's ask the Lord to help us as we go back to God in prayer.
(1) Bible History - Maps, Images, Archaeology
(2) Adapted from BARCLAY'S DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES (NT) by William Barclay, Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Vineyard of the Lord" - Matthew 21:33-46 - https://www.primobibleverses.com/view/william-barclay/the-vineyard-of-the-lord-matthew-2133-46
(3) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Gary Huckaby
(4) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Bruce Howell
-BELIEVER'S BIBLE COMMENTARY by William MacDonald - Edited by Arthur Farstad - Thomas Nelson Publishers - Nashville - Copyright 1995 - "Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers" - Luke 20:9-18 - Downloaded to e-Sword by Rick Meyers - Copyright 2000-2019
-Adapted from EXPLORING THE GOSPELS: LUKE by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "Condemnation" - Luke 20:1-19
(6) Adapted from BARCLAY'S DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES (NT) by William Barclay, Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - " The Symbol of the Stone" - Matthew 21:33-46 - https://www.primobibleverses.com/view/william-barclay/the-symbol-of-the-stone-matthew-2133-46-continued
(7) Online sermon "A Special New Year's Resolution" by Dan Fowler - John 3:1-21 - Jan. 9, 2005 - http://www.fortbraggpresbyterian.org/html/sermons/sermon1-9-05.html