Sunday 24 August, 2014

Matthew 20:1-16

20 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who owned land. He went out early in the morning to hire people to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to give them the usual pay for a day’s work. Then he sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine o’clock in the morning he went out again. He saw others standing in the market place doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard. I’ll pay you what is right.’ 5 So they went. “He went out again about noon and at three o’clock and did the same thing. 6 About five o’clock he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard spoke to the person who was in charge of the workers. He said, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay. Begin with the last ones I hired. Then go on to the first ones.’ 9 “The workers who were hired about five o’clock came. Each received the usual day’s pay. 10 So when those who were hired first came, they expected to receive more. But each of them also received the usual day’s pay. 11 “When they received it, they began to complain about the owner. 12 ‘These people who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said. ‘You have paid them the same as us. We have done most of the work and have been in the hot sun all day.’ 13 “The owner answered one of them. ‘Friend,’ he said, ‘I’m being fair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for the usual day’s pay? 14 Take your money and go. I want to give the ones I hired last the same pay I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Do you feel cheated because I gave so freely to the others?’ 16 “So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.”

What does Jesus mean? “God, what is this about?” I have to admit to being confused by Jesus story and conclusion – so the last will be first and the first will be last.

Is God just out to spite human endeavour? Is he deliberately frustrating our attempts to ‘get ahead?’

The sense I get is that Jesus wants me to know that my worth in his Kingdom has nothing to do with my contribution. The King of Kings has set my worth. I am worth the price of His blood, His life. My wages for working in my Father’s field are new life, resurrection life, Holy Spirit infused life. I receive these wages no matter how long I have been labouring for. I receive them because my Father has determined that is my wage, that is everyone’s reward for following Jesus.

“Jesus, you set my worth – infinite. You set my wage – over abundance. Keep me from ever grumbling.”

Written by Andrew Mellor

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