Summary: With God it is better late than never.

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The parable Jesus shares

in today’s Gospel lesson

proves the old adage

better late than never

We find Jesus

once again

in a debate with the Pharisees

over Christ’s authority

For centuries

the Pharisees ran the Church

as an elites social organization

rather than the loving body

of God

It was only the Pharisees who could forgive sins

and if they didn’t like you

or didn’t want you around

guess what,

you didn’t receive


it was only the Pharisees

who could pronounce a sinner cleansed

which they very rarely did

It was only the Pharisees

who had the ability

to talk and go to God

And instead believing

that as leaders of God’s temple

they were called to welcome

and help God’s people

They used their positions as a weapon

to Lord over the poor and disenfranchised

and to push the people they didn’t

like further and further away

from the Temple

The Pharisees liked their positions of authority

the Pharisees like having power

they like having control

and didn’t want anybody

even the Son of God

to upset the

apple cart

Which unfortunately

we see played out too often

in the churches in America

Martin Luther once wrote

that to do the will of God

the church must be constantly

reforming itself

we must constantly revaluate

our ministries and practices

to assure they are in line

with the will of God

we must constantly look at what we do well

and expound on it

And look at what we do not do so well

and improve on it

But despite this

too often in our churches

we embrace status quo

rather than reformation

We like the Pharisees

become comfortable with our positions of


and begin to use legalism

to hold others at bay

rather than grace to

invite them in

The reason the Pharisees get so upset with Jesus

is not because they disagreed

or didn’t believe what he was


because everything he said

was in the scriptures

But rather

they get so upset with him

because he openly questioned their


Their power

Their control

Jesus forgave sins

Jesus cleansed the people

Jesus told people you don’t have to

go the temple

to talk to God

just go in your room,

shut your door

and hit your knees

and he will be there

Jesus took control away from the Pharisees

and gave to back to God

the one who is truly in control

And that is where we pick up in today’s Gospel lesson

with the Pharisees asking Jesus

By what authority are you doing

these things?

Or in other words

who do you think you are?

We have been doing it this way for 100 years

it has always been done that way

you are not going to come in

and change it now

no matter who you are

Jesus does not answer the question

but turns their inquiry back on them

by asking them a question

they refuse to answer

Jesus does this because he knows there is just some


you can’t win with, you can’t please

because most of the time

because they have already made

their decision

and have closed their minds

to any new facts

or opinions

One of the things you learn very quickly

when you go off to seminary

is just how little you do know

Everyone of us

went in there thinking we knew so much

and were ready to go out

yet everyone of us left there

realizing we didn’t

know that much

We didn’t have all the answers

but we know the one

who does

I think as Christians,

if we would realize we don’t have all the answers

we don’t know as much as we think we do

it would help us to be more open minded

and more willing to hear God’s answers

And rather than trying to fit the truth

into our already formulated opinion

or our preconceived notions

we will be willing to fit our lives

into the truth

Rather than answering

Christ shares a parable

about two son

called by their Father to go

and work in the vineyard

The first Son

says that we won’t go work in the vineyard

which shows a lack of respect for his

father and publicly humiliates him


eventually the first Son realizes the errors

of his way

recants his first position

and goes out and does

God’s work

One think we don’t really embrace as Lutherans

is testimonials

where a person shares the mistakes they made

but through the grace of God

and the power of the Holy Spirit

they are now living godly lives

Going to a staunch southern Baptist high school

we had chapel every Thursday morning

and at least once every two months or so

we would have somebody come in

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