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The Renters Reject the Landlord- Or House of No Cards- Matthew 21:33-46

Matthew 21:3-14 “House of No Cards- Or The Renters Reject the Landlord”  10-1-17

To see a video of this sermon as well as the cherub choir singing (at the beginning, click here)

This is the first chapter in which the Lord of the Temple comes to the Temple and the Temple keepers reject Him.  He came to His own House- and the Renters rejected and killed Him.  This is the essence of the lesson today.  Some people in the Temple listen and accept Him and others will actually persecute and play a role in His crucifixion.  These are important chapters in which Jesus teaches publicly in the Temple at the climax and last week of His ministry. 

      There is a problem with pollution.  I have seen it in my own lifetime.  As a boy I could go to the mountain streams in the upstate of South Carolina and drink without worry.  Now I wouldn’t dare.  Now if you go to Myrtle or Surfside beaches after it rains you will get a no-swim warning because of run-off.  40% of America’s rivers and 46% of our lakes are too polluted for fishing or swimming.  In the developing countries 70% of industrial waste is untreated as it goes into the water supply.   There is still plenty of water in the world, but the amount of drinkable water is getting scarcer per capita.  One fourth of the population over 1.8 billion do not have drinkable water- despite our best efforts.   842,000 die each year because of water related problems. In Genesis 2:15 God says that he put human beings here to take care of His garden.  We are tenants- renters. Sometimes we have done a marvelous job.  Sometimes we have ruined the garden.  The earth is not ours- it is the Lords.  We do not own it.
Conversely, the earth does not own us.  For about 25 years I have seen stickers saying, “Take care of your mother” and it has a picture of the earth there.  For many ancients the earth was a goddess or at least a Titan.  The earth is not our God or our owner.  Nor are we on our own and nobody cares what we do to the earth unless we get caught or poisoned by our own misuse.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.  This parable in Matthew 21 is a reminder that we are not the boss, nor is the earth our boss.  God is the owner of the vineyard, the garden.  We are called to be stewards- tenants of what God gives into our care.
This parable is especially poignant in our day.  Pollution is not just restricted to the earth.  There is pollution of the heart and soul.  There is a growing sense that the public idea is that we exist in order to be fulfilled.  You only go round once in life go for all the gusto you can.  If you don’t try to fulfill yourself, who else will do it?  The Canadian Philosopher, Charles Taylor and many sociologists are saying that we are living for our own self-fulfillment.  It has become the most common god in the West.  If someone tells us no or says we shouldn’t do something- even bad things- they are often ridiculed and rebuked.  This is the evil result of post-modernism.  In the Bible it is called rebellion against God.  This stands in stark contrast to the teachings of the scripture.  Scripture teaches that we would do well to listen to the real owner of life.  Our best life now- is not found in ignoring God and going our own self-seeking way- but in listening to the Maker’s directions.  Jesus did not come to ruin our lives- He came to bring true fulfillment- He said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly- to the fullest” (John 10:10).
This year there is a whole TV series about self-fulfillment gone awry- The Menendez Brothers. It is a show about Erik and Lyle Menendez who murdered their parents- Jose and Kitty- who were themselves living extravagant lifestyles with no moral compass- only a desire for more and self-fulfillment, with little care for their own children.  The boys ultimately bought into their lifestyle and thinking with little care for their parents.  This is the end of having everything you want without God.  The Menendez brothers showed no remorse for shooting their parents several times and going on a one million dollar spending spree the first six months after the murders.
Many will love you as long as you fulfill their needs.  So the minute the wife gets tired of caring she heads out the door.  The minute the kids get too much.  Kids should not abandon/get rid of parents when the parents get in their way.
The earth is not ours.  We are not our own.  We are called to a life of joy—and sometimes- even many times that may mean sacrificing ourselves out of love for others.  The tenants killed the son trying to take it all and find happiness.  They didn’t find it and the owner punished them.  Pay the rent- acknowledge He is your Lord. I had a friend who rented a trailer out to some tenants.  For four  months they paid no rent.  When he went to see them they yelled and cursed at him.  When he came back the next week they were gone and the trailer was completely torn up- the light fixtures, sink, built in couch was gone.  Sad.
The other side of this is that God sees.  It is HIS garden and He cares.  He sees when you give yourself.  When you keep the nursery after a long hard week and you just want to sit in the pew.  He sees when you pour yourself  out to help a neighbor and they don’t thank you.  He sees.  The good news is that Jesus shows us this by His own life- giving His love sacrificially for us.
Today is World Communin Sunday.  We remember His sacrifice. He came to His own and his own did not receive Him.  But to those who do receive Him- they become children of God.  We are tenants- stewards who recognize He is Lord.  Amen.