Lessons from Jesus

Kingdom Work

Matthew 20:8 – 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.’

When you read the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, what image comes to mind? Is it working for God in His kingdom? Is it deathbed salvation or the idea of inequality? Whatever your initial thoughts may be, this truly is a very poignant parable. It follows on from a conversation in which Simon Peter asks, “we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Peter, it would seem, was still looking for some kind of earthly reward for giving everything up to follow Jesus. Did he perhaps feel ‘deserving’ of some sort of recognition? It is this idea that I feel is the main focus of the story.

Jesus tells of a man who goes out early in the morning to find men to work in his vineyard. A wage is agreed and the workers commence. Later in the morning and at midday he goes out again and brings more workers in. He repeats this during the afternoon, right up to the last hour of the day. The foreman attends to the wages with every man receiving the same pay. This did not go down well with those who started first thing in morning. In fact, it says, ‘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.”’ The workers who started at 6am felt that they deserved more for their labour than those who came much later, so the master asks them, “Do you begrudge my generosity?”

Although through this parable Jesus is challenging our attitude toward our service and the service of others, its main focus in on the attitude and behaviour of the Master. Just as he went out continually to look for workers, God the Father never stops looking for those to bring into the kingdom and He will keep searching up until the final hour. Everyone that responds to his call will each receive the same salvation.

Our God is a generous God, whether a person has served Him for decades or, like the thief on the cross, has only moments to praise Him, the reward remains the same, eternal life in His kingdom.

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