Sermon + Walk The Walk

This is Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon for September 27, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. His text was the Gospel lesson, Matthew 21:23-32 + Parable of Two Sons Asked To Work. This was the second sermon in the series, “Parables and Stories of the Kin-dom.”

Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon for September 27 for the Church at Home service.
Pastor Brian Campbell’s sermon for September 27 from the service at Redeemer.

May we learn from God’s words & stories, working to bring the Kin-dom here to Earth. AMEN.

  • Do you walk the walk, or do you just talk the talk?
    • The questions of Who do you listen to? And What do you do? are at the heart of today’s Gospel lesson.
    • This is a literally challenging text because Jesus is being challenged by those who will soon call for his life.
  • The setting and time in Matthew’s Gospel have changed from the lessons we have been hearing for the past few weeks.
    • With today’s lesson, and the Gospel lessons we will hear through the end of October, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the last week of his life.
    • We missed the Palm Sunday procession and the cleansing of the Temple, but Jesus has come back to face the consequences for the chaos of those activities.
    • He is confronted by Temple leaders, the chief priests and elders, who want to know who is this person garnering all of this attention and causing all of these problems.
      • They ask, By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority? [A]
      • Jesus doesn’t bother to answer them because he knows they are trying to trap him.
        • He sets a trap, asking them the same question, but about John the Baptizer.
        • They cannot give him an answer because either answer will cause them to lose the crowd they are trying to turn against Jesus.
      • When they give up, Jesus goes beyond rejecting their authority, he rejects their faithfulness and fidelity to their call and duties.
        • Jesus tells the parable of the father who asked his two sons to work in the vineyard.
          • The first said, No, but went and worked. The second said, he’d go, but didn’t.
          • Jesus asked the chief priests and elders who did what the father wanted.
          • They said it was the first one, the one who worked.
        • Jesus explains how the Temple leaders say they do God’s work, but don’t, while the sinners and tax collectors they castigate do as John and Jesus call them to do, even while rejecting the Temple Law.
    • The challenge this lesson presents for us in the present is what authority do we follow?
      • Then, do we actually do what we are called and told?
      • The question of what authority we acknowledge and adhere to is another way of asking why do you do what you do?
        • What are your core values? What moral teachings do you obey?
          • Do you work for only you and yours, or do you care for others?
          • Are you trying to make things better for everyone, or a certain group?
          • Do you show respect for everyone, or are some people beneath you, serving only to be mocked and blamed?
          • Do you speak to what to hope for, or do you play on people’s fears?
          • Do you look for people to give credit to, or for people to blame?
      • It isn’t just what you say, but what have you done to reflect your values.
        • Have you done what you said, or have you tried to distance and distract?
        • Are you helping those who need help, or are you providing for the comfortable?
        • Do you follow the rules, or think they apply only to others?
        • Are you responsible for what happened, or do you blame everyone else?
    • The way of righteousness that Jesus says John came in, and that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are following is they are taking care of those who need help.
      • This is what God commanded of the people of Israel, how they were blessed in order to be a blessing, but it is what the leaders of the Temple had fallen away from.
        • They became more focused on maintaining order and maintaining control.
        • They didn’t serve those in need, they only served those who kept them in power.
  • In the chaotic times we live in, will we follow the way of righteousness, or fall away to follow those who try to scare us into falling for their falsehoods.
    • The way of righteousness is the discipleship Christ calls us to.
      • It isn’t about being the proud or powerful; it isn’t about wealth and privilege.
      • It is being transformed to see that we have been blessed not for ourselves, for serving the least, the last, the lost, the little ones and those who are all alone.
      • It is knowing the gifts God has given us are to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world, serving those who have been held back, pushed aside and stepped on and over.
    • Each of us has to decide what authority to follow, and who to listen to on what to do?
      • Do we listen to what the Gospel proclaims, or how selfish people scare us?
      • Will we love our neighbor, or fear them?
      • Are we blessed to be a blessing, or to take care of our own?
      • Where do we draw the line of what we will tolerate and what is unacceptable?
        • Or as Alexander Hamilton asks in the musical,
          “If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?”[B]


[A]    Matthew 21.23.

[B]     Lin-Manuel Miranda, Aaron Burr, Sir; “Hamilton: an American Musical,” 2015.

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