Summary: A sermon about grace.
“Found in the Marketplace”
Most of us have been hurt by a bully at some time in our lives.
Perhaps it was in elementary school, middle school, high school or even at work.
Maybe that person made our lives miserable for a considerable amount of time.
Perhaps 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years later the scars from their relentless attacks still haven’t completely healed.
Is there someone like that in your history, in your life?
Think about that person for a second.
Think about the pain that person inflicted upon you.
Now think about going to heaven and seeing that person there, ahead of you even—worshiping God with a huge smile on their face and gleams of joy in their eyes.
How would that make you feel?
Would you rejoice, or would you grumble a bit?
Would it seem unfair?
Or think about this.
Imagine getting to heaven and seeing Hitler.
Imagine watching God gently wiping away every tear from his eyes.
Imagine seeing Jesus leading him to green pastures and springs of living water.
What would you think?
How would you feel?
Especially if you had been one of the people who had died in one of his concentration camps or had been put to death in one of his ovens?
He murdered 6 million people.
But what if he gave his life to Christ at the last moment—and he was enjoying heaven alongside saints who had lost their lives trying to save people from his gas chambers?
“Are you envious because I am generous?” asks the owner of the vineyard in our parable for this morning.
This parable rubs many of us the wrong way.
Who are the people who “began to grumble against the landowner” because he paid everyone the same whether they had been the first to be hired and had worked all day or whether they had hardly worked at all?
That’s us—if we take it far enough, is it not?
I mean think about it.
The people who were hired at the end of the day not only got the same pay as everyone else, they got paid first!!!
What is this?
What is going on?
Is this some kind of cruel joke?
We are part of Jesus’ parable of the Workers in the Vineyard because we carry around with us ideas about what is fair and what is not.
And this story is not fair.
Now, we might agree that the owner of the vineyard can run his business any way he wants, but his payroll policies are messed up.
We want to agree, yes, everyone needs a job, needs a fair day’s wage to keep food on the table; but if the master is determined to be generous, why not pay those people who worked all day a bonus?
That would be fair.
But his generosity does not seem just.
And so we take our places with those who were hired first, paid last, and now complain.
We join the grumbling in the back of the line.
But in doing this, we forget something extremely important.
We forget that we all began in the same place, in the same situation.
I mean think about it.
Where does this story start?
The landowner, who obviously represents God, went out into the marketplace early in the morning to find people to work in his vineyard.
He found a bunch of people standing around doing nothing, feeling hopeless and useless.