Saving Grace

There are no favorites in God’s kingdom

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruits.” – Matthew 21:43

When I was in high school, a Catholic secondary school, one of the nuns who taught me English, liked me. I was somewhat a teacher’s pet. Because of that, I thought I could get away with anything. Consequently, I neglected to study. When exams came around, she gave me a “D”. That shook me up. I realized that I had to produce if I wanted to get ahead in that class.

In the text, Jesus is giving the religious leaders a rude awakening about their relationship with God. They thought that because they were Abraham’s children, they could do as they pleased and live in contempt of God’s laws.

They had been God’s chosen people through Abraham, whose faith God had credited to him as righteousness. Jesus had previously warned these same people about their attitude. In Matthew 3:9 he told them, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

These people lived believing that because they were God’s chosen people, they had carte blanche. They could provide lip service to God and get away with it. They felt that the kingdom was theirs for the asking.

Consequently, they believe that they were guaranteed God’s favor even though they held contempt for him. Therefore, Jesus is warning them that the kingdom will be taken away from them.

It will be given to a people who will produce fruit. The religious leaders and the Jewish nation had rejected Jesus, the Messiah, and cast him aside like a rejected stone. However, he whom they despised and rejected had been embraced by the Gentiles.

They, along with the tax collectors and prostitutes, were entering the church in droves. These new people in the church would bring forth the fruit that was expected.

Yes, God calls us to produce fruits for his vineyard. In Christ, we are the heirs to the kingdom. We are the new tenants in the vineyard. In baptism, we have been grafted as children of God.

We, too, are called to be fruitful. Let us today ask ourselves, as the vineyard holders, “Are we producing fruits?” Are we producing as a church, as a family or individually? As heirs to the kingdom, it is the season to produce fruit.

This is what God’s kingdom’s people do. There are no favorites in God’s kingdom. Like the workers in the vineyard, he expects us all to produce and bear fruit. Kingdom people produce kingdom fruit.

As the people of God, we pray that the Holy Spirit continues to guide us in faith; that we be productive in our mission to proclaim this gospel to the people of the world; and that we give aid to the poor, food to the hungry, clothe the naked and speak up for those who are denied justice or are misused and abused.

And that we live out our baptismal faith, producing fruit for the kingdom. We pray that as kingdom people, we produce kingdom fruit. Amen. 

Well, God has been merciful to me and has given me another year. Today is my birthday.

• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: lutheranchurch@coralwave.com; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.

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