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Saturday, September 4, 2010

9/5/10 Matthew 20:3-16 Parable of the Workers

3 "About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' 5 So they went. "He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon 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 said to his supervisor, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' 9 "The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
13 "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' 16 "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

(Workers in the Vineyard- Francesco Maffei c. 1650)

Thoughts: On this Labor Day weekend, this is a good passage for us.  God has the right to not hire or choose any of us.  If any of us are chosen, it is by grace, not because we deserve it.  He also has the right to reward as He wishes.  We may question the justice of God, but God's eternal omniscience and love define justice.  God turns our human ideas of fairness on its head.  Our idea of fairness is- "Who is first?"  But our timing is not as important to the eternal God.  So there is room for the thief on the cross to come into his kingdom at the last minute.  This means while we have breath there is still time to come to his kingdom. 

Prayer: Help us, O God to find peace in your pleasure and yours alone.

John Calvin abridged: People have no right to complain of the bounty of God when He rewards people beyond what they deserve.  God defrauds no person of being hired justly, so there is no cause for complaint.  People who are called before others ought to run with greater alacrity.  Christ also exhorts all people to be modest and not to give themselves the preference above others- but willingly share with them the common prize.

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