Laborers in the Vineyard
As Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem to be hung on a cross for mankind to have the opportunity for salvation, he tells more parables about what God’s Kingdom is like. The laborers in the vineyard parable is the one that makes us cringe and cry out “Unfair, Unfair!”
We can certainly identify with all the different people in this parable. Everyone in this parable is hired for the contracted price of a denarius (a day’s wage). This is the same contracted price for all the different laborers even though some were hired in the morning and others at midday and still others in the late afternoon. They all agreed on the price but when the contractor (Jesus) pays those that work less hours a full denarius, the ones that worked all day think they will get an extra bonus. When they do not get that bonus they grumble and complain because they worked all day.
Jesus points out that they have no reason to grumble because he did them no wrong and they are receiving the wages they agreed upon. He further goes on to rhetorically ask why it mattered if he wanted to give those that work less hours full pay because it is his money to do as he pleases.
Ultimately, the parable is about those who are believers for a majority of their lives verses those who come to faith in the twilight of their life and both receive the same reward of heaven.
This parable points out that the Kingdom of God is based on grace and not merit. If we grumble about others that lived most of their lives wild and unreserved and don’t belong in heaven, then we end up despising his grace and generosity. If we insist that God rewards us based on our merits, then we say to God that we don’t need his grace and can do it on our own. Either way this type of attitude is dangerous and unsettling.
What we feel is fair and just is quite different than how God wants to act with is abundant grace. When we get down to the bottom of it what is fair and just is that we are all sinners and deserve to pay the price sin demands, death and eternal damnation, none of us belong in heaven no matter when we were converted. Thank God that he is generous!
God Bless! Pastor Todd