THE PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD WORKERS (Mathew 20:1-16)
The Lord God says, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard to further explain what the Kingdom of God is like.
A landowner goes out early in the morning and hires men, agreeing to pay them the daily rate - a silver coin (one dinar) for a day’s work.
He hires them at various times throughout the day - 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm and promises all of the workers a fair wage.
When the end of the day came, the landowner told his manager to pay the workers, starting with those hired last. Those who began working at 5 p.m. were given the daily rate - one silver coin.
When it came to those who had been hired first (early in the morning) they thought they would receive more. When they too were given the standard daily wage they began to grumble. They were angry because they had done a lot more work than those who had started later in the day.
The landowner did not listen to their complaints and reminded them that they had agreed to the daily rate of pay when they were hired. He said, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
The Lord God then says, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The characters here are God, who is the Master; the vineyard is the Nation of Israel; workers are all those who are saved.
The ones who had come last were paid first and the first ones were paid last. Here we see that the last ones were very happy with the master for his grace and generosity as they had received more than what they deserved for their work. Whereas the first ones were disappointed and complained about not getting paid more as they had worked for more time than the last ones. But they refused to understand that they had agreed with the master for a silver coin for a day’s work. The Master conveys that the ones who are saved earlier need not be jealous or disappointed with the ones who were saved later for getting the same reward.
We always see our hard work only and not of others and tend to always compare ourselves with others when it comes to getting rewards from the Heavenly Father. We are not happy with what we have received and always want more for our deeds. But our Lord is just and generous in distributing his wealth to all. He allows the Sun to shine the same way on all the people and showers rain on the good and the bad alike.
The takeaways of this parable:
· God is sovereign: The Lord is generous in rewarding his people for their work. He does not see the time they have worked but it is completely on the faith that they had in the Master. He is true to his word even though we don’t stick to our promises.
· He is the Saviour of the world: He is ready to save the people who call upon Him even at the last minute to get the same reward (entry into the kingdom of Heaven) as those who have been faithful all their lives ( the good thief on the Calvery was saved just before his death for his belief and faith in the Lord)
· He wants to bless all: Those who are spiritually poor will be blessed more than their expectations (the last ones) for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.
· He is a Just God: Those who do not have trust in the Lord and go by worldly measures because of not getting rewarded according to their expectations see the Lord as an unjust master.
· He is full of mercy and compassion: The Good Lord is merciful to His people as he treats all those who have worked for him in his way because just as the sky is far higher than the Earth, His ways are different from our ways.
· His ways are different from our ways: Those who consider themselves better at work in the Kingdom of Heaven (due to their preaching, teaching, or any other service) may be disappointed – God’s grace is beyond the understanding of humans.
· He accepts those who have faith in Him: All those who have faith in the Lord Jesus and are ready to acknowledge and declare Him as the Son of God among people would be saved unconditionally. Without faith, no one will be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven.
People who come to our Lord Jesus later in their lives will still be given the same reward (entry into the Kingdom of Heaven).