Summary: A sermon about God's grace.
“For Those Bent on Power, Position and Prestige”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN eastridgeumc.org
A pastor was serving as a hospital chaplain, and noticed the extraordinary care given by one particular nurse.
She was usually working the night shift, but never used the slower time as a means to slack-off.
Instead, she was constantly busy, checking every patient on a very regular basis, and often holding hands with those who were fearful of surgery, praying with the dying, and reading to those who couldn’t sleep due to their pain or anxiety.
The chaplain stopped to thank her for her exceptional nursing care.
It seemed to make such a difference for those whom the chaplain came to visit as a pastor.
He asked her if she ever got tired from her exhausting hours and often thankless job.
“Not at all,” she told him. “In fact, every night I am adding jewels to my crown.”
That kind of surprised him, so he asked her what she meant.
“Our Lord has promised to reward our good deeds,” she replied.
“If my tally is correct, I now have 1,374 jewels in my crown in heaven.”
Suddenly, the chaplain saw her through new eyes.
The person he had admired for her inner beauty, tender care, and sacrificial service became as he explained it, “in an instant a greedy religious ogre, choosing to locate herself in spots where more heavenly goods could be looted from her unsuspecting prey.”
It made him sick.
Jesus’ parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is really a response to Peter’s question in Chapter 19:27, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
It is also an explanation of what Christ means in Chapter 19:30 when He says, “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
This parable also speaks to us about God, and what kind of God we have.
Think about the last group of workers, the ones who were hired when only one hour of the day was left.
We might wonder why they hadn’t been spotted before.
The landowner asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?”
“Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.”
In other words, “Nobody has given us a job. Nobody has wanted us.”
They were, perhaps, the sort of people who lived on the margins.
Perhaps they were the “outcastes.”
They may not have come from the “right side of the tracks.”
Perhaps they weren’t blessed to have been born into loving and nurturing homes.
Maybe they had some mental disabilities or mental illness.
Maybe they were ugly, smelly, difficult to look at.
They weren’t the so-called “beautiful people” of the world.
They hadn’t been given the breaks that so many take for granted.
But the landowner hired them, and paid them the same as the people who had been slaving away all day in the heat of the sun.
As in so many of Jesus’ stories, the Landowner obviously represents God, and the workers are those who are saved by God.
And Jesus intends the parable as a warning to the disciples themselves about their attitudes and as a warning to us as well.
People who work in church circles can easily assume that they are the special ones, God’s inner circle.
In reality, God is out in the marketplace, looking for the people everybody else tried to ignore, welcoming them on the same terms, surprising them (and everyone else) with God’s generous grace!!!
The early Church needed to learn this lesson, and in all reality, is there anywhere in today’s Church that doesn’t need to be reminded of this as well?
And after-all, weren’t all of us, at some point, standing in the marketplace until God came and called us into God’s Kingdom?
We are all sinners.
Paul in Romans Chapter 6:23 explains that “The wages of sin is death.”
This was going to be my plight!
The incredible grace of Jesus Christ calls me to faith, to redemption.
Jesus saved me from my purposeless, self-absorbed existence into His Kingdom!!!
I became one of His co-laborers!
Oh, the dignity of it all!!!
And Jesus rewards me!!!
And it’s just a free gift, it is not something I have or could possibly earn.
And the fruit of Jesus’ efforts in my life, and my effort in Him, is “love, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.”
And my drab, mundane existence has been altered forever!!!
My waiting is over.
I have a purpose!!!
I am wanted!!!
I am fairly paid!!!
And there is much, much work to be done…
…work done, not for the pay…
…but because of the love already lavished on me.