After the Feast of Transfiguration, the epiphany season gives way to the pre-Lent season of Gesimatide. During Gesimatide we focus on one of the three solas each week (grace alone, Scripture alone, faith alone). This week, our focus is on Grace alone, and the gospel is the parable of the landowner who pays all his laborers the same wages, no matter how long they worked, out of his generosity. We do not deserve forgiveness any more than the rebellious Israelites whom Daniel prayed so earnestly for – and yet by grace we are all forgiven, washed clean by the blood of Christ poured out for us.

Interior photograph of Chapel of Christ Triumphant at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, Wis., on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford, © The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

 

The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Daniel, chapter 9, verses 2-10:

In the first year of his [King Darius’] reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

The Epistle lesson is from 1 Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 24 to chapter 10, verse 4:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

[10] For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

The Gospel for Septuagesima Sunday is from Matthew, chapter 20, verses 1-16:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 

Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’

They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’

He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’

And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 

So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, by Lawrence W. Ladd [Public domain]

 

First Lutheran Church of Boston Devotional Readings

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