“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an
householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.”
Matthew 20:1. The parables
are a great guide for those who are diligently seeking God. As we study our
Bibles we begin to appreciate who God is and why He is the way He is. We can
learn much about the Creator of the universe if the desire is there. One thing
for sure is we will soon learn that God’s ways have a purpose entirely void of
man’s perceptions of how things should operate.
“For my thoughts
are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
In His parable of the vineyard owner,
Jesus shows mankind a different type of employer. A goodman owns a vineyard and
he needs laborers. This goodman heads to the marketplace early in the morning to
hire laborers to work in his vineyard. When he sees men standing around he
approaches them and contracts with them to work in his vineyard. The vineyard
owner offers the first men a day’s wage and they accept his fair offer and head
off to work in the man’s vineyard.
and sending out men throughout the day to work in his vineyard, at about the
eleventh hour (5:00 pm) the goodman heads back to the marketplace where he
encounters a few more men standing around and he inquires of them why they are
just standing around. “And about the
eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them,
Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired
us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right,
that shall ye receive.” Matthew 20:7-8.
So the vineyard owner offers to pay these last workers fairly and they head off
to join their fellow laborers who are already working.
Now the work day
has ended and the vineyard owner tells his steward to settle up with all the
workers. In the minds of most humans a great injustice is about to occur here.
This perceived injustice would depend on which group of laborers you belonged
to; the workers which spent just one hour at labor in the vineyard couldn’t
possibly see any injustice as they received their day’s wage. You see, there was
no difference in pay for any vineyard worker that particular day. That full
day’s pay must have made the one hour group extremely content. But the men who
labored all day in the hot sun had a little different opinion on the matter
“...they murmured against the goodman of the
house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them
equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”
Matthew 20:11b-12. But the
vineyard owner had this to say in response to their murmurings
“...Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou
agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto
this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with
mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”
Was there any injustice done as the
above workers perceived? Were any of them taken advantage of? No, they all
agreed on the wage for the day, which at that time in history was a fair day’s
wage. The problem arises when we consider only the human side of this parable.
We see a great injustice done to the laborers who spent the entire day in the
vineyard. We must conclude that these men had every right to murmur against the
vineyard owner. In the minds of most humans a travesty of justice had occurred.
In our economy today the laborers who worked longer hours should have been paid
according to the hours they worked, not what some vineyard owner felt was fair
and just for all. Right? Maybe. But remember, in the first verse of this chapter
of Matthew Jesus brought our attention to the fact that He was likening the
goodman/vineyard owner to the Kingdom of Heaven, not to any humanistic pursuit
for earthly gain.
In this parable the vineyard ownerrepresents
God, and the day’s wages represents God’s distribution of heavenly rewards. God
rewards those He sees fit to reward and He does so as He desires. The rewards
are according to God’s good pleasure, not man’s good works or hard labor. Many
believe that what they’ve done in their life will assure them many rewardsin
heaven. But that isn’t how God works. The men who worked one hour of the day
received the very same reward as the men who worked all day because it pleased
the goodman of the vineyard (God) to reward them in this manner. In God’s
economy there was no injustice, only God’s grace and mercy.
Looking at God’s
rewards as He distributes them can be confusing to many since the mindset of
most of earth’s population has a humanistic me, me, me mindset, which of course
is not at all godly. As believers in Christ we should always be others-centered,
never self-centered. Self-centered individuals will forever misunderstand how
God decides to reward those He rewards and will never see God’s blessings as a
part of His Kingdom. His rewards have everything to do with
His will, not
ours. Also, His rewards and
blessings have nothing to do with whether or not we are worthy. After all, none
of us are worthy to receive even one blessing.
“…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and
on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Matthew 5:45b. We may witness
the lost of this world receiving what most of us would consider great
rewards/blessings. But the blessings and rewards we might receive during this
life on earth are insignificant in view of what awaits those of us who love and
Think about this for a moment. What was
Jesus’ purpose behind this parable? Was it to expose a world of jealousness and
hatred to our fellow man? Not at all. Jesus’ motivation begins inchapter
19 of Matthew when His disciples disputed among themselves about who would be
first in the Kingdom of Heaven. That chapter and this parable are tied together.
If you want to be first you’ll be last. If you are last you’ll be first. And
that’s just part of the parable and how God’s rewards flow, there is much more
to discover about this parable.
What more of a reward could God have
blessed us with than the reward of eternal life? Receiving the gift of eternal
life is the greatest blessing and easiest to accept from the Father by all who
will believe in the Son. The parable above is all about God distributing His
rewards and blessings as He so desires. Viewing salvation in this parable gives
us much more insight into God’s process of distributing blessings and rewards.
Many of you reading this commentary
might have asked Jesus into your life at a very early age. My granddaughter for
example is only 7 years old and yet was so moved by what she is being taught
about Jesus that she asked Him into her life to be her Savior and Lord. On the
other hand, I was in my mid 40’s when I made that same decision. There are, of
course, those who will live a life of ignoring God’s invitation all together.
Although, if a man or women waits until the last hour of their life to say yes
to Jesus and believe, according to God they receive the same reward as those
who’ve believed and been born again for most of their lives. There are other
rewards in God’s economy but here we are speaking only of the reward of
It’s not up to us to question God on
this point. He rewards those who come to Him and place their trust and faith in
Him. It’s His good pleasure to reward the believer as He sees fit; He glories in
blessing the diligent who seek Him through a thorough study of His word, and He
does this to glorify Himself. God is greatly glorified each time someone makes a
commitment to Him early in their life and then they live their life according to
His Word and will. But God is also glorified by the fact that He shows mercy on
those who’ve rejected Him for almost their entire life. As the very old
gentleman or lady lay on their death bed and confess to their loved ones that
they have been extremely foolish all their life for rejecting Jesus as Savior
and Lord, but now they believe and trust Him to save them even at this late
hour. And who gets the glory for that late hour revelation? God.
So we can see
that in God’s economy rewards are equal no matter what time of day they are
received. No matter when we show up in humble adoration before our Savior and
Lord we are all rewarded equally. How can that be?
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a
truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:”
Acts 10:34. God doesn’t play
favorites. He is just and fair in His dealings with all His creation.
I’m not saying that everyone should
wait until they are old and grey headed to become a born again follower of Jesus
Christ. Those who wait must also contend with the very real fact that their life
could be snuffed out instantaneously, forever losing the opportunity to accept
God’s free gift of salvation. Something else that’s missed out on is fellowship
with God and the joy of knowing and living a life for Christ. Many people flirt
with death completely oblivious of what awaits them on the other side as they
spend a lifetime rejecting Christ. Many others have been blinded by the god of
this world, thus they see no significance in a God who died for them.
Earlier I mentioned I was in my 40’s
when I finally opened my heart to Jesus Christ. What I didn’t mention was the
fact that I had many brushes with death prior to my conversion. I was an
alcoholic and I rode motorcycles, a very deadly combination. For some reason God
spared me and through His grace and mercy I’m here today with a message of hope
for anyone who might be where I was twenty years ago.
The crux of the matter is this, waiting
until those twilight years before making a decision for Christ is not only
foolishness, but like riding motorcycles while in a drunken stupor, very
dangerous. Why wait? If you are one of those waiting for the most opportune
moment to ask Jesus into your life, do now. Tomorrow may never come.
God bless you all,
96 County Road 5480 Salem, MO 65560
All scripture is from the KJV and God