1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
In the Bible word the “right” and the related word “righteousness” refers not to justice—getting what you deserve, good or bad—but to God’s righteous actions to give you what you need. What every soul needs is God’s declaration that you are right with Him. This declaration blots out your sin, your shortcomings, your failures, it removes your shame, and reconciles you to God and others; it removes the stain of the wicked actions of others that have hung like a heavy shadow over you for years. It does this because He pays the cost, being gracious to whom He will be gracious.
Yet, when the first came they expected more than they were promised. They begrudged the Master for not giving them more than He’d promised them. Literally, their eye went evil because he had been generous to the last called, making them equal. They said, “We have born the heat of the day,” when in fact they’d been saved from the stifling heat of sitting idly in the marketplace hoping for someone to come along and save them. But their eyes were evil not because they hadn’t received mercy from the Master, but because they couldn’t see His mercy toward them and thought others had received greater mercy which was not earned or deserved. This is exactly the point: with God none of us gets what we deserve. Even when God allows the consequences of your own foolish actions to come on you, we do not suffer fully what we’ve earned. We get off easy. If anyone actually knew my inner thoughts from moment to moment, no one would like me or be my friend. If we had any clue how much what we think are our innocent, little , private sins, effect others in our families, workplaces, and world we would curl up in a fetal position because of what would be coming to us.
Yet, we hear this parable and judge the workers to be fools for their arrogance when we are exactly the same. As children we argue with our siblings over who has it easier, who gets more mercy, more goods, or more attention from mom or dad. And it doesn’t stop when we “mature”. For don’t we all have a general disdain and jealousy of those wealthier than us? “It’s not fair,” we say. They don’t deserve it. They don’t use it as well as we would. They didn’t work for it or they cheated someone for it. We would use such material gifts better than they. We wouldn’t waste them so frivolously. We would appreciate and enjoy them more fully. We wouldn’t take them for granted or flaunt them in the faces of others like those nouveau riche types.
Repent. For you are not satisfied with what God has given you, and repeatedly break the 9th and 10th commandments, by coveting other’s goods and other’s relationships. Repent. For you do not trust your God to provide for you, repeatedly breaking the 1st commandment to have no other gods. For really material wealth is the thing you trust in and look to for security. Repent. For your eye is evil because He is good. He has given to you the same grace you begrudge others but don’t have eyes of faith to see it. This “it’s not fair” attitude is ultimately what you think of your God. Repent.
For the old evil eye is not some spell wicked witches cast on you. It is your natural state. It is your default way of looking at the world and at God. Our eyes are filled with darkness unable to see or appreciate or celebrate the grace of God to anyone but ourselves. We begrudge others good fortune, second chances, even at times wishing them not to be saved by our Gracious God and Father. Such attitudes endanger our own salvation. For when we have an evil eye toward God, we don’t think He’s giving us our due. Even though He’s given you salvation in Holy Baptism, fed our spirits on His body and blood. He’s given you a good eye, fixed your eyesight so that you can see Him at work pursuing you, calling you, providing what you need.
And His comm are not burdensome. They do not gain you salvation, but they are set in place to protect you and bless you. They are established to ensure that you will be made right with Him by His Work and His Word (1st-3rd Com) and ensure that you are kept from defiling yourself and others, keeping you holy (4th-10th). They are given for your benefit. They given to keep you safe. They are His good will toward you. And you begrudge Him for it. Your eye is evil toward Him because He is good toward you.
Fortunately, the Kingdom of God is not like workers in a vineyard earning their wages. Rather, the Kingdom of God is like a Master who calls men to Himself to provide for them, to save them, to be gracious to them. With this Master, the first becomes the last so that the last may be first. With God our Father the firstborn Son of God, takes my place on the cross bearing the heat of God’s wrath against my sin, and the burden of earning my salvation, for me, so that I may be first, through His being last.
Notice how the call into the Master’s vineyard parallels the crucifixion where firstborn Son of God became the last. For our Lord was judged early in the morning when the first workers were called into the vineyard. He was put on the cross at the 3rd hour of the day; at the 6th to 9th hours the Father turned back on His Son and the sun refused to shine on Him. At the 9th hour the Son finished His work and died. At the 11th hour He was laid in grave. As night fell the Son rested in the grave, foreshadowing our rest in our graves till the Lord gives out the salvation He called you into His vineyard, His Church, for.
Notice how the vineyard is a lovely garden, a place of salvation and hope, unlike the dusty marketplace of the world. Notice how the vineyard is like unto the Paradise that our Lord created in the beginning; how it is like unto the paradise He promised to thief on the cross who had been given the good eye of faith.
Today, repent of your evil eye. Receive from your master His good eye which guides, protects and saves you.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON