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Parable Of The Laborers


Matthew 20:1-16

I would like for you to look at the very first sentence in this parable.

But there is something else about this statement.

So let’s look at this parable and let’s see what Jesus has to tell us about “the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, the very first thing I want you to notice is verse 30 of chapter 19…the verse that immediately precedes this parable.

We read it but let’s go through the parable again. Jesus says, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.”

About the 3rd hour he sees others “standing idle” in the market place and he tells them, “You too, go into the vineyard and work. And whatever is right I will give you.”

Again, about the sixth hour…and the 9th hour he did the same.

And about the 11th hour he went out and found others standing and he asked them, “Why are you standing here idle all day long?”

Now, when evening came, the land owner called his foreman and he tells his foreman, “Call the laborers and pay them their wages.”

So the foreman does…and those who were hired last…the 11th hour workers…they were paid first.

And finally, when those hired first came, they thought that they would and should receive more…but they too only received a day’s wages…the same as the others.

And look at what they say in verse 12: ‘ These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’

But look now at what the landowner says in verse 13:

“But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14’Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15’Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 “Thus the last shall be first, and the first last.”

I think the first and most obvious lesson that Jesus is teaching us is “be sure you are in the kingdom.”

Every day the Lord is looking for laborers for His vineyard…everyday He seeks and invites.

The second thing that I believe Jesus is teaching us is that “in the kingdom of heaven” every one gets the same.

Does this parable teach us to put off entering into the kingdom until the “eleventh” hour because “after all, you are going to get the same thing as those who have been in the kingdom for 50 years!”

Let me ask you this:

If we had to earn these things…how long would we have to work?

And think about this?

The point is, what we receive is not based on how long you have served and what you have done.

And then a third thing I think this parable teaches us has to do with the true spirit of a Christian.

The spirit of the world says, “What’s in it for me? How much am I going to get for this?”

There are several more lessons in this parable but lets go back now to the two statements that came before and after: “But many who are first will be last; and the last will be first.”