For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house.” I’m not sure why Jesus bothers with the Parable, because it’s not going to make sense to us anyways. We say we get it, that God gives His grace lavishly, but in the end it’s a concept that we will never wrap our minds around. We rejoice in God’s grace as it is represented in the landowner, but we still don’t get it. We can’t, because our minds are terminally infected by original sin, the prideful, arrogant sin of Satan, that tells us to see ourselves as the most important, the highest judge of all things. God, the rule of nature, everything must be subservient to me, to what I can comprehend, to what I can dictate. And God’s grace does not work in those ways. It is entirely ludicrous to human reason. It works in ways we cannot and never will. But, that’s why Jesus tells the Parable. Not so we can master the concept, but so we can rejoice that our God does not limit Himself to man’s ways, to those things that make sense to us. God’s grace is limitless and gives gifts greater than we could ever deserve.
God has promised to give everyone what is appropriate, what they need to sustain this body and life. Christ Himself reminded us God takes care of the birds, the flowers, the grasses, and everything else. If He knows the plight of something as seemingly insignificant as grass, which grows wherever and however it wants, how much more will He take care of us?
Mercy always seems like a ridiculous gift. That is, it seems ridiculous to the person who is watching someone else receive it. Unless you’re the one receiving the mercy, it’s a waste, nonsensical, a display of the giver’s ignorance, and any number of other bitter replies. We’re glad to be merciful for a little bit, but it has its limits. This is what lies at the center of the Readings for today, and what characterizes these three weeks preceding Lent. We can never understand the depths of God’s mercy because our eye is evil, that is, sin has clouded our judgment and on this side of eternity we can never fully comprehend our merciful God.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.