The Word This Week

Matt 20:1…

When it comes to God, who determines ‘fairness?’

Jesus had just taught His disciples many who are first will be last, and the last first. I’m sure this was every bit as confusing to His disciples as it is for us.

So Jesus went on to illustrate exactly what He meant when He said this by teaching them a parable – before they could even ask a question about what He meant by the ‘last being first.’

The parable has to do with itinerant workers in a vineyard, hired at various times during the day. It stands to reason those hired at the beginning of the day deserved more wages than those hired in the last hour.

Peter had asked the question in the preceding chapter, “See we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”

This question was prompted by Jesus informing them it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

How then is wealth His beneficial? And how is ‘wealth’ to be defined?

The Jewish people considered themselves a special people by virtue of their birth into Jewish families, and because of their cultural history with God. They had in a semblance ‘walked with God’ for thousands of years by the time Jesus came into the world. Surely their reward in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than any other people because they had so long served God.

They would certainly be in line for God’s blessings to a greater degree simply by virtue of their having spent so much time with Him – especially compared to those proselytized into the Jewish faith only recently – and for sure superior to any unconverted gentiles.

Now consider the day workers. No contract had been provided, only the promise they would be paid “whatever is right” in the estimation of the landowner. As they viewed the landowner dole out the wage to those who only came in the eleventh hour, they presumed their reward would be much greater than those who only worked in the last hour because they had worked all day. They were licking their chops about how much abundance they would receive since the landowner had been so generous with those who only worked at the end of the day.

They were therefore very unhappy when they received the same wage for working all day. What is wrong with that kind of thinking pertaining to salvation in Christ?

Pastor Bill