S (Scripture): Matthew 20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the marketplace without work. 4 He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. 6 And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day without work?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go and work in the vineyard too.’ 8 When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.’ 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. 10 And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ 13 And the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. 15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
O (Observation): So unfair! How could God allow for something like this? This story makes it apparent that God’s kingdom brings about a different standard of status. Everyone knew that the longer you worked in the vineyard, the more you got paid! But not in this story.
This story calls in to mind what is fair in God’s eyes. Those who are a part of God’s Kingdom, whether they be long-time believers, or newcomers to faith, God sees them all equally.
This story points to the state of the Kingdom of God. The standards God’s Kingdom looks different than the world’s standards. Keeping in mind that God’s Kingdom is not a far off place, but everywhere God reigns, we see the world we live in a bit differently now. We see believers not in terms of stronger or weaker in faith, but rather equal in God’s eyes.
A (Application): Baptism. It’s all about baptism for me. Why? First, baptism is an external sign of God’s grace, and grace is never fair. Second, baptism seems to me to be the “great equalizer” – baptism puts us all on the same plain.
No one of us is greater than another in Kingdom terms. We are all given authority and power as members of God’s Kingdom, no matter how long or brief our tenure as God’s children.
Humility. We are forced to consider setting aside our egos and come to terms with God’s grace reigning…and not our own standards.
Where does this take place for you? In your church setting, can you sense this tension between young and old? Between long-time members and newer members? What can be done to help establish the understanding of this parable in your setting?
P (Prayer): O God, our King, open our eyes to your view of your Kingdom. Amen.