30 January 2015

The parable of the workers in the vineyard

Click here to read Matthew 20

CrossDiscussion Questions

  • How do you interpret the parable?
  • How important and reassuring do you think these prophecies (vv 17-19) became after Jesus had ascended into Heaven and left his disciples?
  • Can Jesus still heal today (v 34)? If he can, but does not, what does that mean?

Share your thoughts below, or tweet about it with the #boundlessbible hashtag.
 

Going Deeper –  from 'Words of Life'

This parable sets out to illustrate the last statement of the previous chapter, ‘Many who are first will be last, and many that are last will be first’, a principle that is repeated in verse 16. But really it teaches that all will be treated equally. Whatever the contribution to the kingdom, the rewards will be the same.

The landowner asks the men who were hired last, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ Silly question! They probably have been doing something essential all day – looking for work, waiting in the market-place, the job centre, to be hired, without which they would have no income.

It may well have been that those who appeared in the market-place late in the day had been trudging all day from one village to another seeking work. They were certainly persistent and thought that an hour’s work was better than nothing. (Others might have given up and gone home.) It is worth noting, however, that there is work for all in the kingdom of God. ‘The field is the world’ (Matthew 14:38) and opportunities for serving God are limitless.

The second question in the story is asked when it comes to the pay out and it is asked of the men hired first (v. 14). Isn’t it natural for men who have worked all day to expect more in their wage packet than those who have worked for an hour? Natural, yes, but there is at least justice on the landowner’s side. They got what they had been promised. God cannot give us more than eternal life, whatever we do to ‘earn’ it.

The first-comers got what they needed. The latecomers’ needs were just as great, so they all got the same reward. To repeat, God treats us according to need not deserts. Of course, we must not have the attitude of doing as little as possible to warrant our inclusion in the kingdom, but these men had not done as little as possible but as much as they could.This parable sets out to illustrate the last statement of the previous chapter, ‘Many who are first will be last, and many that are last will be first’, a principle that is repeated in verse 16. But really it teaches that all will be treated equally. Whatever the contribution to the kingdom, the rewards will be the same.

The landowner asks the men who were hired last, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ Silly question! They probably have been doing something essential all day – looking for work, waiting in the market-place, the job centre, to be hired, without which they would have no income.

It may well have been that those who appeared in the market-place late in the day had been trudging all day from one village to another seeking work. They were certainly persistent and thought that an hour’s work was better than nothing. (Others might have given up and gone home.) It is worth noting, however, that there is work for all in the kingdom of God. ‘The field is the world’ (Matthew 14:38) and opportunities for serving God are limitless.

The second question in the story is asked when it comes to the pay out and it is asked of the men hired first (v. 14). Isn’t it natural for men who have worked all day to expect more in their wage packet than those who have worked for an hour? Natural, yes, but there is at least justice on the landowner’s side. They got what they had been promised. God cannot give us more than eternal life, whatever we do to ‘earn’ it.

The first-comers got what they needed. The latecomers’ needs were just as great, so they all got the same reward. To repeat, God treats us according to need not deserts. Of course, we must not have the attitude of doing as little as possible to warrant our inclusion in the kingdom, but these men had not done as little as possible but as much as they could.

Trevor Howes

Tags: Matthew