Jesus tells a parable about a landowner who hires workers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16). He hires some early in the morning, some at 9 a.m., more at noon, and still more at 3 p.m. He then hires a final bunch at 5 p.m. At the end of the work day, he pays them all the same wage.
Those who were hired first grumble, “These 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” (Matthew 20:12 NIV). Jesus replied,
“Are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”Matthew 20:15–16 NIV
Who are you in the story?
I most often identify with the worker’s hired first because I was introduced to Jesus when I was in the womb and have followed him ever since. But my former pastor taught me that I’m identifying with the wrong character in the story.
If you’ve been working for Christ, diligently doing his work for a long time, you will automatically identify with the guys who worked all day, complaining about why the last guys get the same as you. But that’s not who you are in the passage. This passage is about the last person hired, the one who gets far, far more than he has earned. And friends, this is the best news you could ever hear.Pete Briscoe
Lord God, your grace often feels unfair. But truly I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because it’s generous, extravagant, and lavish and I am an unworthy recipient. Thank you.
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