Summary: This sermon looks at the workers in the marketplace waiting on someone to hire them. They are compared to Christians today.
The young man had just graduated from college and was at his first job interview. He was applying to be an accountant. Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked him, "What starting salary were you thinking about?" The young man replied, "In the neighborhood of $100,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."
The interviewer said, "Well, what would you say to a package of 5 weeks vacation, full medical and dental, Company Retirement Fund to 50% of your salary, Executive Share Option Scheme, Profit Related Pay and a company car leased every 2 years?"
The young man sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"
The interviewer replied, "Yes, but you started it."
We all desire to know our worth. Often we feel that we are not appreciated. We are not paid enough. We are not thanked enough. Sometimes we will even ask questions, not really seeking the truth, in hopes of getting an answer that will satisfy our self worth.
In Matthew 19 we meet such a man. He comes to Jesus and asks the question “What must I do to have eternal life?” He knew the answer. He was Jewish and had been taught the law his entire life. But he was looking for justification and praise.
Jesus answer was simple, “Keep the commandments.”
I could almost see the young man smile. “I have done that. Is there anything else?” He wasn’t seeking the truth but rather the approval of Jesus.
But Jesus throws him a curve ball. “Yeah. Go sell all your possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow me.” Not what he expected. He walks away sad, ashamed, and disgraced in front of those who heard the conversation.
Jesus tells his followers that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. A camel stands a better chance of going through the eye of a needle. But, through God, man’s salvation is possible.
Now Peter, being always observant, has a thought. If the young man had to get rid of everything to be a follower, then I must be highly favored. He was like the young accountant about to ask for a salary of $100,000.
He turns to Jesus and states, “We have left everything to follow you. What then will there be for us?” Like the young man, he’s not seeking the truth but rather the acclaims of Jesus. But Jesus sees through his motives and tells a parable.
Matthew 20:1-2 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.”
When Jesus told this story it was probably during the harvest time. The landowner had his year round workers who attended to the vineyards. But during harvest time extra workers would be needed. So he went to the market place at 6 am to look for those who were seeing employment due to not having a regular job. His desire was to harvest his crop in one day. For some reason he felt an urgency to do so.
When he got there at 6 am he found some strapping young men ready to work. They had gotten up early and prepared themselves for a full days work. He offered them enough to care for themselves and family for one day. They agreed and went to work.
As the morning proceeded he realized that he needed more workers to accomplish his goal of a one day harvest. So back to the market place he went.
Matthew 20:3-5 “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. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.”
He first went back at nine o’clock. He found the nine to five crowd. These guys want to work but they like a routine. They will be in the market place at a convenient time for them. They’re hard workers, ready to put in 8 hours with an hour lunch break. The landowner chose the best and offered them a salary that he would decide was fair. They agreed and went to work in the vineyard.
Soon it became noon. The sun was overhead and it was getting hot. Some had been at work for six hours now, some for three. The heat was taking its toll. The workers had started tiring so he decided to get more workers. So back to the market place he went at noon.
When he arrived at noon time he found those whom it was difficult to get out of bed. They woke up, piddled the day away, and finally realized that if they did not find a day job they, and possibly their family, were going to go hungry. So they arrived at the marketplace hoping it was not too late. The landowner looked over this crowd and chose the best. He offered them a salary that he would decide was fair. They agreed and went to work in the vineyard.