Today I would like to share with you from Matt 20.1-16 concerning serving in The Father’s Vineyard. We have faith and works. Salvation and Service. To serve in the Father’s vineyard we must first be saved, and we can’t earn that salvation. We don’t work in the vineyard to earn salvation. Salvation is a “free gift” from the Father. He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross - in our place! But the parable that we are going to discuss is not primarily about salvation – it is about service.
I read a good quote by an army chaplain recently; it was “If you have a pulse you have a purpose.” God desires us to serve Him wherever we are, and whomever we are. All we need is a pulse!
So this message about service is for you.
A YOUNG MAN - Matt 19:16-22
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The young man turned away.
Was this a Big Ask? Here was his chance to have treasure in heaven, (not to buy his way into heaven) but to enter life, to have eternal life. Was this a big ask?
What about us? What are we withholding from our neighbour, from the poor, what do we have that they need?
JESUS TALKS WITH HIS DISCIPLES - Matt 19:23-30
And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundred fold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Jesus emphasises the fact that a rich person can only enter the kingdom of Heaven with great difficulty! What is the Kingdom of Heaven? (The Kingdom, The Kingdom of Heaven, The Kingdom of God, are where God reigns) .. “His Vineyard”
The impossible is possible with God. If you were to die today and stand before God and He asked, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ what would you say?” What are you trusting in for eternal life?”
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Have you entered the kingdom of God?
Entry is free, it is all provided through God’s generosity. There is no way that by our own efforts that we can earn access. It is all given freely at God’s invitation.
In the third part this message we are going to talk about works and rewards.
WORKING IN THE KINGDOM - Matt 19:27-30; 20:1-16
“Serving in the Master’s Vineyard.”
Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Big 12- assuredly I tell you that in the new world … you will be privileged to serve along with me.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Everyone – this is for all believers. There are rewards but eternal life is an inheritance that is freely given – it cannot be earned.
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
This statement forms bookends around the parable. It also responds to Peter’s question “What then will we have?” We have worked Hard from the beginning and we have left all to follow You…
30 people at a birthday celebration – shared lunch together.
Ordered what we wanted. I was amazed at the variety of things people chose – Nachos, Salads, Big breakfasts (I wish I had that! Envy? Regret?) eggs Benedict, etc. We had no idea who was going to be at the function but there were relatives, some people we knew, and many that did not know. I must admit that I made judgements about some of the folk just from the way they looked. We discovered many interesting things about some of the people we that we do know. Anyway, at an appropriate time I went up to the counter to pay for Jean and myself, and was quite taken aback when I was told it’s all covered! The cashier said it’s your lucky day.
I went up to the host – it was his birthday and I expressed my gratitude – he said “Oh I didn’t pay it was someone else”.
It’s a bit like the vineyard workers regardless of the time that they arrived, and the hours worked, they all received the same generous amount! I will not forget that occasion.
The statement - “the first will be last, and the last first” means that everyone ends up the same.
Five groups of workers
Hiring workers to serve in the Master’s Vineyard
Workers hired at 6 am. (12 hour day – no unions 😊)
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
Unusual – the owner of the estate went himself to hire labourers.
He goes out early – probably to the town centre. The labourers normally had their own tools. These ones were ready early. They knew what they were about and were most likely skilled workers. They bargained with the landowner and agreed on receiving a denarius for the day’s work. This was a good and fair wage. (Same as a soldier received for a day’s work.)
Workers hired at 9 am.
And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went.
This group was also looking for work and perhaps thought that they had missed out. The landowner said to them go into the vineyard and I will pay you what is right. For them there was no formal agreement on the wage, but they had trusted in the word of the landowner. They went on trust that he would do the right thing.
Workers hired again at 12 am and 3 pm.
Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.
These labourers worked for only one half and one quarter of a day respectively.
Workers hired one last time at 5 pm.
And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.'
These ones had been waiting for work all day! Why? Because no one had hired them – no one wanted them.
This group also went on trust and were probably very glad to have at least got some work.
Pay day arrives at 6 pm.
And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'
Pay the last first!
Give them a full day’s pay!
This has nothing to do with economics. No business owner would pay a day’s wage for only a few hours. The 5pm crew probably did nothing!
Work meeting and grumbling
What God is dealing with here is the attitude with which we serve.
But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last."
The point of this parable is not about differing rewards. They all received the same amount!
This parable is about the generosity of the master and the attitude of the labourers.
Take what belongs to you. I have given it to you.
Do not begrudge my generosity
Serve in faith, trust in God’s goodness and generosity.
• Serve without grumbling or envy (-ve)
• Serve with joy and thanksgiving (+ve)
• Trust that God will always do the right thing by us. Believe that He will keep His word --- He surely will!!
Be ready and available – look for ways to serve Him. (You will not have to wait very long!) Throw yourself into kingdom work and your reward will be great!
“So the last will be first, and the first last."
In other words, everyone finishes in a dead heat. No matter how long each of the workers worked, they each received a full day's wage. Similarly, the thief on the cross will enjoy the full blessings of heaven alongside those who have laboured their whole lives for Christ. Such is the grace of God.