6. "The Workers in the Vineyard"

Matthew 20:1–16

Pay day in the vinyardVinyard workers

Again, Jesus explained what the kingdom of heaven was like. Taking place in a vineyard, those who had worked only an hour, were paid first, receiving a full day's wage. But when he paid those that had worked all day long, thinking that they should receive more than hour-long workers, the vintner paid them a day's wage also. They murmured against the vintner, resenting him for paying those who'd worked only an hour as much as they themselves got paid, after working all day in the heat.
But he told them that he was their friend and they had agreed to work for a day's wage and had been fully paid. He was entitled to pay everyone a day's wage.
Jesus was telling the people around him that salvation was available to everyone, but only a few were going to take him up on his offer. It's his to give to anyone who comes to him. Some children accept Jesus, and have the joy of working for God for many years. Some people put off accepting Jesus until late in life, even until they are about to die. They only get to serve the Lord a short time.




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Matthew 20:1–16... The parable of workers in the vineyard contains a great insight to the mercy of God...that we, regardless of our deeds, efforts, and merits, will receive the same great reward in heaven. Furthermore, we're put to task by God to share with those around us.




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The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Matthew 20:1–16


"Working for wages," "welfare," and "the unemployed": What do these three subjects have to do with the kingdom of God? In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, we see the extraordinary generosity and compassion of God (a.k.a. the vintner).
Unemployment is a great tragedy. In Jesus' times, hired laborers had to wait each day in the marketplace until someone hired them for a day's job. No work for them that day usually meant no food on the family table that night.
Laborers who worked all day and received their payment complained that the master paid the late-afternoon laborers the same wage. But the master, no doubt, hired those in the late afternoon so they wouldn't go home payless and hungry.
God is generous when opening the doors of his kingdom to all who will enter, both those who have labored a life-time for him and those who come at the last hour. While the reward is the same, the motive for one's labor can make all the difference.
Some work only for reward. They'll only put in as much effort as they think they'll get out. Others labor out of love and joy and work for the opportunity to serve. The Lord calls his Hearty Boy disciples to serve God and neighbors with generosity and joy. Do you perform your work and duties with cheerfulness for the Lord's sake? And do you give generously to others, especially to those in need?
Notice, for instance, that even the workers hired early in the morning (the ones who later complained about the owner's fairness), rolled out of bed un-employed. But the owner finds them at all hours of the day and gives them work.
The early and late hires were all "standing idle in the marketplace." Whatever they were doing, it wasn't working. There was no real livelihood prior to the vintner (God) seeking them out. But by the end of the day, they seem to have forgotten this or never really understood it. What is clear is that, come payment time, they were thinking only in terms of just reward: Pay must be commensurate with hours worked — as if the work itself was not the real "reward." But we think differently, right?


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