Discover the startling notion of grace in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard workers

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first. For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they murmured against the landlord, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 19:30 – 20:16).

IDEA: God deals with us in grace.

PURPOSE: To help listeners realize that you cannot at the same time have both merit and grace.

Listen to this parable Jesus told about some farm workers who were in a wage dispute. As you listen, think about two questions:

Was everyone in the story treated justly?

Were any of the workers treated with grace and generosity?

Read Matthew 20:1-16.

I. Were all the workers treated fairly? What do you mean by that?

Were all the workers treated with grace and generosity?

Is there a difference between receiving wages and getting a reward?

Were the workers rewarded according to their merit?

Were they rewarded for the quality of their work?

Were they rewarded for the quantity of their work?

Were most of the workers paid on the basis of a contract?

II. Take this into the context:

Did the wealthy young man who came to Jesus understand the difference between merit and grace?

If you sign a contract or make an agreement, then what is the basis on which you get paid?

How does a contract work?

Did Peter understand the difference between merit and grace?

When Jesus promised Peter that he and the others would have a marvelous reward, was that based on their performance?

III. Do we understand that our dealings with God must always be based on His grace? What difference does that make?

“Wages” are the wrong way to think when we consider God’s dealings with us – Romans 6:23.

The focus of this story is not on the rate of pay but on the generosity of the owner.