The Hour of Condemnation
Luke 20:9–20 // Isaiah 43:16–21 // Philippians 3:4b–14
Fourth in a series of five, “The Hour Has Come”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon text for today is this parable of judgment, this parable of condemnation that Jesus tells in Luke chapter 20, “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them...”
Dear Friends in Christ,
We see these critical hours, these crucial teachings of Jesus in our sermon series, and in the hour today, we find Jesus condemning the scribes and Pharisees, and we see in that very hour they are looking for a way to kill Jesus, and to that end, Jesus tells a story. To frame our conversation, I want to tell a story too.
I can remember when I was in 5thgrade. I took piano lessons from 3rdthrough 8thgrade. Looking back, I should have loved them, but at the time I didn’t necessarily like to practice 30 minutes, every day. There was one week when I had been avoiding my piano lessons, and they started to build up, from 30 to 60 to 90 minutes. My brother John, on the other hand, had kept up with it.
And so, when my mom went to a meeting one evening, she told us both to practice our piano, John did, but I didn’t. He tried to get me to do it, but I still didn’t. And then my mom came home. Can you guess what she did when she found out?
Condemnation and Salvation fall in the same (stroke).
What was salvation for John was judgment for me. What was vindication for John was condemnation for me. In either case, my mom’s action didn’t change; the relationship to her did.
So it is in our parable for today. The parable that Jesus tells to the Pharisees, a parable of judgment. It’s an easy parable to understand. The renters are the scribes and Pharisees. The servants are the prophets that went before Jesus. The son is Jesus himself. But when does it become a parable of judgment, a parable of condemnation? It becomes such when the Pharisees reject it.
Both judgment and salvation fall in the same stroke. What if the scribes and Pharisees would have repented of their ways? Then God who is faithful and just would have forgiven them and cleansed them from all unrighteousness. But in either case, God’s action doesn’t change; the relationship to him does.
And Jesus looks directly at them and says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces. If it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
The one who crushes is the (cornerstone). What in this world today is being crushed by our cornerstone? It is the sin in this world. It’s the idea that church doesn’t matter, that it’s just an old-fashioned bygone.
It crushes the idea that Christians are called to obey the letter of the law. We’re not. We are required to obey something far, far more than that -- the law of love, the law that fulfills all of our neighbors’ needs before they know them, the law so high and far above what our legislature would put in the books that it does all it would require and more. There is no law against love. And by love, I mean laying down your life for your neighbor.
The cornerstone crushes the idea that there’s too much to do, too many things on our plate to slowdown and be served the most precious thing ever by the master of the universe.
It crushes us when we have the tendency that so many of us have to be unkind for no particular reason at all, to be unloving because we didn’t feel loved by that person, to avoid telling the truth because it’s going to be hard, to avoid caring for and pursuing someone whom we’ve hurt because we’re scared of what they might say.
And it all comes back to the first commandment. You shall have no other gods. We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. The cornerstone crushes anything that is set up in our lives above God. He breaks to pieces every evil design of the devil, of the sinful world, of our very own nature.
But he was (crushed) for our iniquities. That’s Isaiah 53 language. “He was crushed for our iniquities, he was pierced for our transgressions, and upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
He’s crushed for our sake. He takes our punishment. All of the wrath of God, all of the judgment of God, all of the brokenness of sin is poured out onto Jesus – our sins, the sins of the Scribes, the sins of the Pharisees, the sins of the whole world are given to him, and in exchange, he gives us his righteousness.
Three questions in closing today, as we consider this parable.
In view of Jesus’s words today, what do you need to count as loss? That’s the saying of St. Paul that’s paired with our Gospel reading. What do you need to count as loss against the surpassing greatness of what you’ve been given? I count it as rubbish.
Who do you need to look at and love? I think of Jesus looking at these Scribes and Pharisees, he looks directly at them, and he gives them what they need from him. But so I ask, who do you need to look at and love? Who needs you to do what they need, not what they deserve, not necessarily what they want?
Where and when do you need to repent? Where and when do you need to hear the voice of Jesus, to fall on your knees, and to ask for forgiveness?
The kingdom of heaven is like a large church in a small town full of folks that love their Lord, but oh-so-often, they find their hearts wandering during the prayers, oh-so-often they find their ears wandering during the sermon, so so often they need their savior to look them directly in the eyes. It is their prayer on their best days that their savior would be chasing after them, would be feeding them everything they need to eat, and would be holding them close.
Amen and amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters