Pastor’s Bible Reading Schedule: Jeremiah 1-2; Matthew 20
This parable, Matthew 20, teaches a magnificent and blessed truth about the kingdom of heaven, which, Jesus said, is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his farm. Jesus is giving an illustration of the spiritual nature where God sovereignly rules in righteousness and wisdom, and in particular, an illustration of the equal and just basis on which the kingdom of heaven is entered by His grace. (Eph. 2:8-9) As He often did, He used a parable, a common earthly story to illustrate a heavenly truth. The Jewish workday began at 6:00 A.M., which was known as the first hour. When it was about the third hour or nine o’clock, the owner went into town again and saw others standing idle in the market place. Standing idle does not imply they were lazy or just had nothing to do, but rather is a picture of them being unemployed. They had no place to work in order to make a living. These others may have been latecomers who had to travel a greater distance or perhaps were less able-bodied than the others and moved more slowly. Whatever the reason, they were now standing in the “unemployment line.” The landowner went back again at the sixth hour (noon) and the ninth hour as well as the eleventh hour. He never tells the workers after the first group was hired what they would make, but rather just told them “whatever is right, that shall ye receive.” (vs. 4, 7) “So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.” (vs. 8) It is interesting that those hired first do not begin to murmur until they receive the same amount as those who were hired after them. They murmured because they assumed they should have received more. The owner makes it clear that he has done no wrong because he has paid them the amount for which they agreed to work. Then he makes a statement, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (vs. 15) The problem was not injustice on the part of the landowner but rather jealousy on the part of the workers. Jealousy and envy are not based on reason but rather on selfishness. The charge of unfairness was not grounded in a pursuit for justice but in the selfish assumption that the extra pay they wanted was pay they deserved. God does not owe us anything. The only thing we deserve is an eternity in hell separated from God. It is his grace that allows us anything at all. The picture is that of grace. The result of eternal life does not depend upon whether I am saved as a child or on my deathbed as an elderly person. Both are given eternal life on the basis of the perfect shed blood of Jesus and the grace to offer salvation to whosoever will may come. Obviously no one in guaranteed tomorrow so the Bible is clear that now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. However, the grace to give eternal life to whosoever believeth on Him is the grace God can freely bestow on all who believe. We should rejoice in all who come to God for salvation. God can do whatever He want whenever He wants to the extent He wants. He is God!
• Lord, please help me to never question what you do or are doing. I now you are right in everything that you do and you are a gracious God. I am thankful for the grace you show to me every day.
• Lord, help me to encourage people and never to compete with them. Please help me to rejoice when your grace is being extended to those who receive it. None of us deserve it, but you are so gracious to extend grace to any of us.