The Weekend Word
It may be important here after listening to the story of the rich young man and how his thinking was wrong – that we are to ask “how are we to interpret his word?”
The classic answer is, “we don’t – the word interprets us.” The word is that powerful and tells you who you are in this story.
Laborers in the Vineyard
20 “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.
- Jesus is continuing to work his kingdom theology – the kingdom is here and this is what it is like.
2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
- A denarius = 1 days pay … or can we say that through the vocation of the master of the house (yes even a master has a vocation… master) – he is providing “our daily bread.”?
- Could a denarius be considered a daily bread wage?
3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
- What are the hours?
- Using the Roman calculation, the day began at 6AM – so the 3rd hour = 9AM // 6th Hour = Noon // 9th Hour = 3 PM 11th Hour 5 PM with only 1 hour left in the work day.
4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’
- This is where life gets a bit sticky and uncomfortable in our relationship with God. Whatever is fair to me or whatever is fair to God?
5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.
- If the master of the house is God, then we see that HE is constantly at work to fill his kingdom … not us.
6 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?’
- How do we interpret the 11th hour?
- How many sayings or the way we express things come from the Bible.
- Someone on his deathbed we say “he was saved at the 11th”
- This is what is being expressed here – even up to the last hour, God is working to fill his kingdom.
7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’
- Notice that Jesus doesn’t require anything. He has no resume for you to fill out. Just go into my kingdom.
8 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.’
- So the reaction to this may be “OK, so far so good – I can live in this kingdom stuff, just give me a day’s pay for a day’s labor.”
- Look at the language here – the last are first.
- Do you know why he paid the last ones first? What would have happened if he paid the first ones first? They would have been paid and headed off home and not heard / seen that the ones who worked one hour got a full day’s pay.
- Or they would not have had an expectation for more.
9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.
- Wow! That is the same wage agreed to by the first workers.
- Do you suppose back in the line the first guys are thinking – “oh good, we will get more.”?
- Or perhaps they are already beginning to grumble – and who would they be grumbling about? … The boss.
10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius.
- Hey, I am no different. This is what the world, this life has taught us — even about church life. The more faithful you are, the more rewards you will get.
11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house,
- Here the master of the house sees them without work – he gives them jobs – his kindness should be praised.
- This sounds so much like Israel – remember the several times Israel is likened to the vineyard.
- And how about the many times that they grumbled during the whole wilderness wandering. What did they grumble about??
- They grumbled about what God had given them – all the good and gracious things. But they were not content – “you know God, life was better back in Egypt.”
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.’
- What is really going on here? What is Jesus showing us?
- We have this Jew / Gentile thing going here – The Jews have been God’s people all this time and here come these ‘Johnnie come latelies’ -these late comers, the Gentiles and are they to have equal standing with God? Be just like them?
- “Good God Lord – what is this? We have been your people for generations – we have worked hard for generations and now you treat these people as if they too have your divine favor?”
- Note their tone in the “we have worked hard.” – as if they do not realize all these years, all these generations they have been on the receiving end of God’s grace – his good gifts.
- But we should take note of their view of work – work God has provided for them as vocation to their neighbor. Burdened – working in the scorching heat. Not a very high view of work.
13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?
- Note his words and tone.
- God always holds up his end – and usually ours also.
14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.
- God may be saying “take it or leave it – just go.
- What would be the consequence if the master agreed and cut the wage given to those who came later?
- If the denarius was their daily bread, they would not have enough to eat or to provide for their wife and kids. Their families would starve
15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’
- Here is their point – they begrudge God doing good for others.
- They are “me” focused.
- It’s God’s world – can’t he do what he wants – or is God to work within our rules and what we think is fair?
- Shouldn’t we just rejoice in God’s generosity? Take your denarius and come have a glass of wine… with Jesus.
16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
- This is what the kingdom is like – Jesus has come for all.
- We see the kingdom and God’s gracious forgiveness as belonging to us and then we dole it out as we see fit according to our own wisdom.
- This is how it is in my kingdom – I am the king and I am the master.