March 15, 2024

Matthew 20:1-16  (HCSB)
The Parable of the Vineyard Workers

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the workers on one denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When he went out about nine in the morning, he saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 To those men he said, ‘You also go to my vineyard, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ So off they went. 5 About noon and at three, he went out again and did the same thing. 6 Then about five he went and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one hired us,’ they said to him. “‘You also go to my vineyard,’ he told them. 8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told his foreman, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with the last and ending with the first.’ 9 “When those who were hired about five came, they each received one denarius. 10 So when the first ones came, they assumed they would get more, but they also received a denarius each. 11 When they received it, they began to complain to the landowner: 12 ‘These last men put in one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’ 13 “He replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? 14 Take what’s yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? Are you jealous because I’m generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first last.”
 Proverbs 30 states, “If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’ (MSG) Who needs a savior? Well, according to Jesus, we all do. I encourage you to profess your dependence on Him today, not just for the eternal life He has promised through faith in Him, but for His faithfulness to sustain you today. After all, who do you think provided that last breath you just took?

BJ Stahlin
Well this just seems unfair, right? It’s easy to knee jerk on this one. Hold on a minute and let’s consider Jesus’ words. We have this land owner who hires a bunch of guys early in the morning. He makes a contract with them and they seemingly are glad to accept; A denarius or, as I have read, a day’s wage, enough to feed a family for a day. To cut to the chase, the guys who only worked an hour or so got the same pay as those who had worked all day. We are probably quick to consider this unfair and our culture would typically agree. Surely this CAN’T be a comparison of God’s dealings with us!
Why is our first instinct to cry “unfair!”? This first group got exactly what they agreed to, or perhaps what we might think, “deserve.” Jesus points out this land owner wasn’t out to cheat anyone, but rather was abundantly generous, giving something to the latter groups something that was totally undeserved. We can call that grace. Wow, this is an EXACT comparison of His dealings with us! Those guys who only worked an hour were able to feed their families because of this guy! The law would give us what we deserve based upon our performance, what we have done, or perhaps NOT done, for God, perhaps in an effort to win His favor. But God’s gift of grace, through the sacrifice of His Son, gives us exactly what we don’t deserve. Praise Him that our standing is not based upon our performance, but upon Him and what He has already done for us! Let’s not view our relationship with God the Father as some contract or a list of dos and don’ts. He has already bestowed upon us abundantly, far more than we deserve!

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