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Steve Mickel: The Price of Grace, Matthew 20:1-16

October 31, 2022

Audio Recording

In the face of injustice, a price must be paid. We all have a label we deserve to wear for the rest of eternity. There is a price for our sins and our wrongs and it’s way too rich for our blood. But God…paid the price himself to set us free. This is grace.

Grace
Steve Mickel: The Price of Grace, Matthew 20:1-16
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 As Ben mentioned, we are launching a series on grace. super excited about this series. Grace CS Lewis, thought about grace as the singular distinctive of the Christian faith. The, the thing that makes us distinct as a people is grace. Yet how often is it misrepresented, misinterpreted, not understood, maybe not lived out in the context of God's people? Here's the understatement of the, You guys ready for this? Today's world experiences a shortage of grace. Would you agree with that? If grace is unmarried favor, meaning you don't get what you deserve, actually you get better than what you deserve. If that's grace, this idea of unmarried favor, then un grace is merited favor or disfavor. In other words, you do get what you deserve, good or bad. So think about that. Think of Ungrace in our culture, in our society today. And I want, let's, I want you get, I want to get you thinking about this. Give me some examples of ungrace happening in our society today. Go ahead, popcorn it a little bit.

01:24 Okay, I'll start. Get you thinking. you go to a restaurant and you get poor service, what do you do? All right. You don't tip them. I heard someone say that's harsh, but, or, or you give a little bit less of a tip, right? Ungrace. and you also do what? You don't give them a second chance. I'm not going there again. Right? Okay. Did I get you thinking? Now, Ungrace, other ideas, other roundabouts. Say what? Roundabouts. Roundabouts. Such a good example. . Such a good example. Ungrace. Heck no, I'm going before you . What else? People not using their blinkers. People not using their blinkers. Now we got a car theme going. So that's good. That's good. . What else? Ungrace,

02:12 Politician

02:13 Smears. Competition. Smearers. Oh, listen, social media. Politicians, politicians, smears, social media, ungrace filled with ungrace or grace. Yeah. there is a cancel culture. What fascinating one to me is looking back at historical figures from generations ago and judging them based on today's values that maybe didn't exist back then and treating them as such on grace. Any other ideas come to mind before we move on? Say again.

02:46 Yelling at

02:47 The refs. Yelling at the refs. Yelling at the refs. Funny story reminds me of my mom. A sweet, sweet little lady, just sweetest. She's so shy, so quiet. And you get her on, you get her in the stands during one of her boys' basketball games. She was asked to leave the gym one time. Yes, True story, true story. Rosemary Mc watching online today. She meant full of grace to a point, which is probably true for all of us That's outside the church. Those are some examples. What about inside the church? Moral superiority. A sense of I am right and you are wrong. fighting the culture war in, in a way that is filled with un grace of cancel culture also exists in the church. Matter of fact, I think we perfected it, a couple generations ago, but think about how strange it is that ungrace even exists in the church when we worship and represent, represent what one author of the Bible Peter said, wrote about God, The God of all grace.

04:02 He is the God of all grace. And the one thing everyone needs is grace. And it should be the primary reason why people end up in a church community like Westside is we're full of grace. It's one of the things that we want to be known for as a faith community. So for the next three weeks, we're going to talk about grace and what it is. we're gonna look at the question. Can grace become a slippery slope? What does that, does it just give everyone permission to kind of live however they want? How do we live out grace in the world? How do we represent Jesus in a way that embodies his way of grace? And so we're, we're gonna be looking at that. We're thankful for, Philip Yancy's book, written back in the nineties. Still very applicable today by the way. I just finished it, called What's So Amazing about Grace, and a powerful, powerful book. So let me pray and we'll dive into, the word. Jesus,

04:58 We pray to you and your Father, who Peter said is the God of all grace. Help us to know what that means. Help us to see, you in that light. and help us to see others in that light as well. we want to know you, Jesus. We want to know your Father. We want to know, who you are and help us to see beyond, our preconceived ideas of what it means to be the God of all grace. Jesus, help us to see you in all of your glory, we pray. Jesus name. Amen. Well, the word grace, as you probably know, means to give freely. Actually, it's a gift, right? It's some something that you cannot achieve or earn or produce on your own. The Greek word for grace, is chorus, which is another. another interpretation of that word is gift.

05:53 So grace is a gift given, not earned. and it has, and it's a gift given at no cost to the recipient. You don't have to pay for it at all. That's grace. undeserved kindness extended to those of us. all of us. Jesus told stories constantly. He told stories after story after story after story of this idea of grace, unmarried favor and acceptance and love given by God. This idea of undeserved kindness to those who are lost, those who are hurting, those who are hopeless, the prostitutes, the thiefs, the cheats, the sinners. Jesus is constantly telling stories about this. And there's a tension though, that we're gonna talk a little bit about in, in his, in the stories he gives, is that we kind of have to acknowledge this and it's good for us to acknowledge out loud that sometimes grace doesn't feel fair, okay?

06:53 It never does. If it's really grace, it never fills fair. Jesus describes it in one story in Matthew chapter 20, and you'll see what I mean as we dive into this story. We're gonna read the whole thing, like 16 verses here, starting in verse one. The story of Jesus for the kingdom of heaven is like that. He told many stories like this where he kind of starts with that. This is what, this is what heaven is like. This is what the kingdom is like. This is what my way is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And after agreeing with the laborers for a daenerys a day, he sent them into his vineyard. So they agreed to have pay. They, they said yes to it. He offered what he offered, and that was agreed upon.

07:40 Great. After agree, agreeing with the laborers for a daenerys a day. He sent them into his vineyard and going out about the third hour. So three hours or so later, 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 he didn't set a price on that because it was the day it already started. and so, you know, he's just going, We'll see, we'll see what, what it's worth, at the end of the day kind of thing. So, so they do. and, and then, and then he, he comes back. So they went out, going out again about the sixth hour. He goes three hours later to the marketplace and then he does it again. Three hours later, the ninth hour he does the same.

08:16 And about the 11th hour, this is like the end of the day, one hour left in the shift, he went, he goes out again and finds other people saying, Picture this. I mean, he, this master's going to the marketplace every three hours looking for workers, finds workers, sends them out to the field to work, and then the last hour, there's only one hour left. He does the same thing. This is the story, right? And so he finds workers even at the 11th hour, what were they doing all day long, Lazy people, , what are they doing right? And so they, so, so he finds them and he says, Go out and work. And he says, because he said to them, Why do you stand here idle all day? And they said to him, because no one has hired us, , You gotta make yourself hireable, bro.

08:58 You know, he said to them, You go into the vineyard tube, first aid. And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, Call the laborers and pay them their wages. Start with the last one. Start with the ones that we, that we hired last, and then go to the people we hired first, early in the morning. And so when those hired about the 11th hour came, each of them received what a daenerys. I thought that was what they, what the master agreed to pay the ones that worked all day. So now, when those that were hired first came, cuz they're in this line, I can imagine them in this line. And they're hearing, they're looking and the, and the, the people that came at the 11th hour, they're like, Did you, did he just give, I think he just gave them a daenerys.

09:51 I wonder what we're getting . They're probably getting pretty excited about that. And then when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a dirius, how unfair. And on receiving it, they grumbled at the master of the house saying these last, these last worked only one hour and you've made them equal to us who have born the burden of the day and the scorching heat. But he replied to one of them, Friend, I'm doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a dirius, take what belongs to you and go, I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. And am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge ? Do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first and the first last. Does this bug anybody else ? I mean, you gotta be kidding me. This is not righteous.

10:47 It is not fair. It is not just who does he think he is given to The people who came last the same as those who came first. It's not fair. Anybody uncomfortable with this story? A little upset, a little frustrated, Put yourself in the place of the worker who was hired at the first of the day. They've been toiling and laboring. How much profit did they earn the master in that field because of the length that they worked? and then some lazy, good for nothing, sinner comes along and receives the same amount. And we're like, No, no, no, no, no, no. You got to pay your dues. And there it is on grace. It is so counter to the way that we think arguably our nation was founded. Not on this ideology, but on the idea that if you work hard, you get what you worked for, you get, you earn it, earn it, earn it,

12:12 Get up early, go find a job, make yourself hireable. And I'm not saying in any of that, it's like not right, I'm just . It's not, that's not Jesus. It's just not. I want you to think about and we'll look at the Old Testament. What I want you to think about the God of justice, cuz we're gonna look at the Old Testament and the God of justice is kind of book ended on both sides. I believe that, that we'll see the God of justice when Jesus returns. But there's this middle place that we all live. That's a place of grace that Jesus invites us into. One author wrote, If the world could've been saved by good bookkeeping, it would've been saved by Moses, not Jesus. Keep the commandments. If you do that, you will be saved. If you don't do that, you will be condemned.

13:01 If you keep the commandments, you deserve God's kindness. It's all these if then type of statements. But we couldn't live up to those standards then. And we can't now. None of us can't. We all fall short of treating our neighbor with grace and love. We all fall short of the 10 commandments. Not one of us consistently lives up to what, what it means to be good in this life a gracious life. It's actually what the Old Testament in the Bible was all about. It was, it was written to show our inability to keep God's commandments. But what's fascinating about the Old Testament is that, God gives provision, for those who, can't keep the commandments, he creates what's the sacrificial system where if you, if if you sin, you can sacrifice something and be atone, you can be forgiven. you can, it is like this punish like this sacrifice makes restitution for your sin.

14:08 So in many ways, the old covenant right, shows us a God of justice. Something has, something has to be punished for your inability to live up to God's standards. And so the sacrificial system is really interesting and we don't have time to kind of get into it a lot, but, but, based upon whatever sin you committed, there was a bit of a hierarchy of sin. Some were worse than others. and in, in light of that, then you would, you would have to sacrifice different things. sometimes you, you know, for lesser sins, maybe a bird, for greater sins, the greatest of sins you had to sacrifice an unblemished lamb, a perfect lamb from your flock, which was of high value because a perfect lamb would then reproduce more, potentially produce more perfect lambs. and so the, the cost was great to those that sin most grievously, that they had to give this unblemished sacrifice.

15:07 And this would remind the person that their sin is costly and that something always must bear the consequence of sinful choices. The, the sacrificial system. It also taught, this idea of substitution that you're, you don't have to sacrifice yourself. You don't have to put yourself on the alter, so to speak. there, I mean, I for an eye though, right? We all remember that, right? So there is sometimes you gotta, this whole system was built, this idea that someone else could take the penalty for your sin. And then once the sacrifice was complete, done, nobody's gonna bring it up again. You're, it's, you're clean, you're pure, It's all you're good until, until you sin again. Which by the way, if you're me, happens daily . So that's a lot of animals being sacrificed.

16:07 And, and this system was just, you get what you deserve in the face of injustice. We all know, we all feel, we all sense that a price has to be paid, right? If someone does wrong, they should be punished. And those who are wrong may even need to receive some restitution to the wrong done to them murderers go to prison. Molesters are labeled for life. Courts award a settlement. And as a result, we feel what justice has been served. And the reality is, is that all of us have a label or two that we deserve to wear for the rest of our lives.

16:57 There is a price for our sins and our wrongs, but it's way too rich for our blood. We can't pay what it costs. And Jesus comes along and, inly shows us that a thief hanging next to him on a cross without any repentance or restitution, is welcomed into paradise where he tells a story about a wandering son, right, Who, who spends all of his father's inheritance and, and, and then comes back groveling, but is welcomed by the father and is thrown a party by his. And he's just like, my son who has lost is now found this beautiful story or tells a story of a bunch of lazy workers, get as much as anyone else, and it feels wrong, just a little bit and unjust because of the way that we've been taught to think about justice. And then inadvertently we go, Well, I'm good with grace for me, but I, but I'm good with justice for everybody else.

18:17 And then right then when I think that I realize that I do not represent Jesus very well, the price of grace, There's a couple prices that, that are paid. Jesus obviously paid it all for me and for everyone who, who I think doesn't deserve God's grace. We're gonna talk about that in just a moment. But there's also another price that if I'm to follow Jesus in his way of grace, then I must extend the same kind of grace to others. And Pastor Evans gonna talk more about how we extend God's grace to other people. But as just in this moment, I want you to think kind of like, what's the price that we pay for extending grace? Because there's no price that needs to be paid to receive grace. Jesus paid that. And we'll look at that in just a moment. But the price that you and I pay to extend God's grace is called forgiveness.

19:17 It costs a lot to forgive. We're gonna get into that, the complexity of how we extend God's grace in a couple of weeks. But I I, I want us to sit for a moment as we finish up this message to ponder the price that Jesus paid like an unblemished lamb to the slaughter. Andy Stanley, wrote in his book, The Grace of God. That's what makes Christianity so unique. That's what makes grace so powerful. Jesus came into the world and did what nobody else could do. He affirmed the list, He kept the law, He declared God's law good, but then he offered himself as the answer to the question no one else could answer. Now that I've messed up, what do I do, what the rules and the rule givers could not do, Jesus did. By laying down his life as the full and final sacrifice for sin, Christ's death and resurrection signaled to the world that the kingdom of God is not reserved for good people.

20:24 It is reserved for forgiven people. If you've been around for a while, you've heard me tell this story that after my oldest son died, the very next day I was reminded of the story of David's sin with be Sheba. And the sacrifice for his sin was the baby that was born to David and be Sheba and I, that was the day after my son died. And so in my, just growing up in kind of the religious system or whatever, that was the thing that I thought of that oh, there, that that the reason my son died was because of my sin as I've, and as I've mentioned, there are a lot of reasons that that could have happened that way. And I heard Jesus say in that, that moment, like right away, like didn't let me think on that very long. He said, My son died for your sins.

21:19 Nobody else has to. It's final. It's final. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. His forgiveness is eternal. It extends beyond where we think it should. We think it should stop. And it just goes further and further. Have you ever wondered, when am I going to find the end of God's grace? And I am not trying to find the end of God's grace, but I still haven't found it. He is faithful and just to forgive me of all of my sins when I come to him in humility. That's what he paid for. That's why. And Paul encouraged those who experienced grace to walk in the light, to not, not let, not let your wrongs and your brokenness stay hidden. You know, why we keep those things in hiding is because of ungrace, because we're not sure that the people around me are safe, or the church that I'm a part of is safe enough for me to share my burdens and my wrongs and my brokenness. See, the only kinds, the only type of community that that welcomes the sinner, that welcomes the brokenness to come out into the open are places that are filled with God's grace, that are full of God's mercy, where there is no condemnation ever expressed from God's people. Maybe this is why Paul wrote powerful words where sin increase grace abounds all the more.

23:04 You remember that movie, The Last Emperor tells this story of a young child that's anointed as the last emperor of China? And he was asked in this movie, he was asked by his brother, what happens when you do wrong? So his brother asked him, the boy emperor, What happens when you mess up? You know? And the emperor says, Well, when I do wrong, someone else is punished, , and make the point. He, he, he pushes off a a, a jar breaks it and punishes his servant is beaten as a result of that. That's just kind of the, this is just so dysfunctional, right? But when you think about what Jesus did is that when the servants air, the king is punished, he took it on himself. The price that Jesus paid for us is one of the best places. It is expressed is in Isaiah 53, a prophecy given about Jesus some 2000 years before. And the prophet Isaiah writes, Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed

24:11 Before He grew up before him, like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, no beauty that we should desire him. He, Jesus was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised. And we esteemed him. Not surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him, stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. And upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace. And with his wounds, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way. And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us. All the world runs on ungrace and depends on what you do or what you don't do. But God's love doesn't run on ungrace at all. It runs on grace.

25:48 It isn't dependent on your performance or your, achievements. It's solely based. God's grace is solely based on what Jesus did for you and for me. Now, I, I know because I've been a Christian for so long, I often, when I read that story in Matthew, right, I think I think of the, I I I see myself as the worker, you know, that got hired early in the day. I gave my life to Jesus when I was 10 years old. I've been walking with him a long time, and I just, I find myself, I gravitate towards there that, that place and I, I can find myself of, I'm not careful beginning to judge who, who, who God extends grace to. You know, I mean, I can find myself just getting a little bit irritated that he welcomes people. I probably wouldn't welcome that He invites that it's never too late to receive God's grace. But I want you to imagine with me for a moment, instead of comparing yourself to the workers that were hired early, would you for a moment think about, see yourself like the worker who came in last. Do you just put yourself in their shoes for a moment and you're standing there in line, you get your pay first, it's a dirius. And then you walk, you start to walk away. And then you begin to hear this interaction that Jesus has with those who came first. And they're arguing like, Wait a second, they got, And you're standing there with your daenerys and you're, what are you feeling in that moment? You're feeling a little embarrassed, probably maybe a little ashamed.

27:44 And I think there's probably a couple, like an i an idea that's happening concurrently. Two ideas that are happening concurrently in you as you think about this Speaker 5

27:53 ,

27:54 You're probably thinking, I don't know if I deserve this. Speaker 5

28:00 But

28:01 At the same time you're thinking, But I'm so grateful for it. I don't know if I deserve to get what those people that have been working all day get, Man, that's not up to me. That's up to the, that's up to the master who gets to decide what he gives to whom he gives it to. And so I'm grateful I stand undeserving, but thankful. We're gonna take communion today. And maybe the ushers you could pass out, if you didn't get one of these as you came in, maybe just lift your hand up and an usher will, get, get these two. Just keep your hand up and they'll, they'll find you. Those of you that are online, if you grab some bread or some juice, whatever you have. it can be water, it doesn't have to be juice, but whatever you have, grab that. Want us to slow down just for a moment? So would you take a couple deep breaths? I want you to think about the grace none of us deserve, but I want you to also think about how much must God love me to give it to me.

29:31 It reminds me of an old song my church used to sing when I was a child. And I, I looked for it in Apple Music and, and found that Carrie Underwood and Reba McIntyre reprised it, as did Veggie tells, by the way, might be the best version. There is a name I love to hear. I love to sing. It's worth, it sounds like music in my ear, the sweetest name on Earth. It tells me of a savior's love who died to set me free. It tells me of his precious blood, the sinner's perfect plea. It tells of one whose loving heart can fill my deepest, whoa, who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below. Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I loved Jesus because he first loved me.