This is probably not new to any of you, but for some reason I saw the parable that begins chapter 20 in an entirely different light than I had previously.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and didthe same thing. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ 7 They *said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He *said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’9 When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius.10 When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.” -Matthew 20:1-16
I’ve always looked at this parable in three ways:
- It doesn’t matter when you come to Jesus. Salvation is available to all that respond to the call, whether in the first hour or the ninth hour.
- Everyone is equal in the kingdom of heaven. Those who have worked longer won’t be treated better than those that don’t.
- Based on verse 16 the unexpected will receive unexpected rewards.
While all three of these points I believer are true.
It hit me tonight I believe the main point of the parable is a rebuke against salvation by works.
Why are the early servants grumbling, because they worked harder and they are under the misconception that the reward is due their “works.” They don’t realize that salvation is based on Jesus being generous (gracious).
Jesus isn’t rebuking hard work, he’s rebuking those that think this should “earn” them something.
A second parable that struck me in this reading,
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They *said, “The first.” Jesus *said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.” -Matthew 21:28-32
Jesus is not saying it is better to have the greed of a tax collector or participate in the immorality of a prostitute. He is saying it is better to be those things and really come to Jesus than to be a “Christian” and never really come to Him in your heart.
Folk that truth strikes me. It reminds me to keep watch over my own heart, but it also encourages me to pray for the pew sitters that have never truly come in their hearts fully sold out to Jesus!
I was blessed by today’s reading I hope you were too and if there are insights you saw that I missed or want to comment on mine feel free to leave a comment!
Tomorrow’s Reading: 1st Corinthians 1 & 2 (we finished Romans we’re now onto a new Pauline Epistle)