Parables of Jesus – THE LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD

How did you react when someone wouldn’t pull their weight in a group project at school? When someone showed up late to help a friend move?

Today we’ll look at a parable that speaks to a similar scenario — workers that are bitter when people working only one hour get the same pay as them who have done a full day’s work.

THE PARABLE

Matthew 20:1-16 – “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour 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 they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them,‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

SALVATION BELONGS TO THE LORD

The landowner uses phrases like, “I choose”…”my generosity”…”what belongs to me.” Salvation is God’s to give away.

But how easy is it to forget where God found us at the beginning of the day. The people in the first group to be hired were in the marketplace with nothing meaningful to do, no way to put food on their table, just hoping for someone to find them and offer them work. Yet twelve hours later, they saw their employment as their right, something they were entitled to, rather than a gift.

Our employment opportunity in god’s vineyard is God’s generosity to us. He did not have to pick you up or pay you a single dollar. His vineyard, His generosity, His salvation. He chooses how it is to be distributed.

Salvation belongs to the Lord, and that is a good thing, because if it belonged to you or me it would undoubtedly create a standard that would lead us to disqualify even ourselves.

DON’T WAIT & RESPOND JOYFULLY

Say yes to God’s job offer whenever it comes, start your work right away, and work until the Lord tells you the work day is over and it is time to rest. You might think you can live for you and then at some point in the future you will accept his gracious offer of salvation…but you are not promised tomorrow. Purposely waiting will only harden your heart.

The landowner continues to report to the marketplace to hire more workers. He freely hired all who wanted to work. But the reaction of the first hired workers when they all get paid the same is full of bitterness. It displays neither joy nor thankfulness.

We are meant to have big conversations and trust that God is the one at work in them and in others’ hearts. And it’s important to remember that this does not just happen in youth ministries, that God cares for our peers, co-workers, family, friends. Never give up on adults!

Be thankful for the salvation you received through Jesus Christ…especially if you were one of the first in your circle of influence to find it. But don’t let yourself think that this salvation was yours alone to enjoy, it belongs to the Lord and he is going to give it to many more. Many who come in a different way, in different timing and with different baggage.

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