Summary: Jesus emphasizes to us that the urgency to spread the Gospel is greater than ever before.
A Messiah's Sense of Urgency
Text: Matthew 20:1-16
1. Illustration: Richard Baxter, the Puritan preacher of the 17th century conveys the urgency, the zeal of Christian witness when he said, "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men!"
2. We can look around, see on the news, and read on the Internet more reasons than ever before for a sense of urgency.
a. We see wars and rumors of wars.
b. We hear about earthquakes that happen almost daily.
c. We see respect for human dignity fall to all new lows.
3. In this parable, Jesus tells us about...
a. The urgency of the Gospel
b. The invitation of the Gospel
c. The grace of the Gospel
4. Read Matthew 20:1-16
Proposition: Jesus emphasizes to us that the urgency to spread the Gospel is greater than ever before.
Transition: First, Jesus tells us about...
I. The Urgency of the Gospel (1-7).
A. The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like
1. In this parable, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a vineyard. He said, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard."
a. This parable does deal with the idea of rewards for service, but with the ultimate reward - eternal life, the "wages" of grace.
b. In this parable Jesus is comparing the Kingdom of Heaven with the vineyard's harvest.
c. Grapes were picked at the end of September, and were harvested until the rainy season.
d. If the crops were not stored by that time it could be a total loss. So there was always a sense of urgency.
e. Work began as soon as there was light and continued until dark.
f. It demonstrates the urgency with which God views salvation.
g. More than anyone, He knows how little time is left for those who don't know Him to come to faith.
h. Believers need to work while there is still time (Horton, 417).
2. He goes on to say, "He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work."
a. As He often did, He used a common earthly story to illustrate a heavenly truth.
b. These laborers were usually unskilled at a trade and were near the bottom of the social-economic scale, many of them not far above beggars.
c. They worked from job to job, many of which lasted no more than a day and often less.
d. They had no guarantee of work beyond what they might be doing at the time.
e. They would gather in the market place before dawn to be available for hiring, and that is where the landowner found these particular men early in the morning (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
f. The "normal daily wage" that is referred to here was called a denarius, which was a Roman coin equal to a Greek drachma or one-half a Jewish shekel.
g. It was the standard days wage for a common worker or a soldier.
h. A denarius for the day, the wage of a Roman soldier, was good pay for such workers.
i. It is likely they were usually paid less, and they readily agreed to this man's equitable offer (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
j. These first workers wanted to know what their wage would be before agreeing to work.
k. As we will see, there was no such agreement with the last group of workers, which indicates that the first group may have been more concerned with their wage than the rest (Horton, 417).
3. However, the landowner was far from over. “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day."
a. The fact that these men were not working doesn't mean that they were lazy.
b. They were temporary workers who were waiting in the market place, which was the best place to look for work in Jesus day, for someone to hire them (Horton, 417).
c. He comes back to the market place about nine o'clock, and saw others standing idle in the market place.
d. 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 (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
e. Notice that there is no agreed upon price only that the owner would be fair to them.
f. They probably thought they would get a half days wage since that would have been fair.
g. As in most rural communities, everyone knew everyone else, and these workers no doubt trusted the owner as a man of his word.