Summary: A sermon about the grace of God and what we are called to do.

“Found in the Marketplace”

Matthew 20:1-16

By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge UMC, Chattanooga, TN

This parable has a lot to teach us…

…much more than I could possibly cover in a single sermon.

But in order to try and get at the heart of it, the best thing to do is to look at its context.

What brought it about?

Why did Jesus tell it at this time?

Who was Jesus speaking to?

It appears that Jesus was talking directly to the original 12 disciples, and particularly to Peter!

For right before this passage, in Chapter 19:27 Peter says to Jesus:

“We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

“What then will there be for us?...

…those of us who have been working all day in the heat of the sun?”

“What then will there be for us…

…those of us who are Your right hand men?”

“What then will there be for us…

…surely we deserve much more of a reward than the rest of humanity!”

“What then will there be for us…

…look how we have sacrificed so much for You!”

That’s some pretty common thinking, wouldn’t you say?

When we work hard, we expect to be paid more than those who haven’t worked so hard.

If we have put in more hours, we should be rewarded for it.

We live in a competitive world.

This competition is the driving force behind the concept of capitalism.

Not everyone gets paid the same!

Some are rich; some are poor.

Some live in huge mansions, paying more for their beautifully landscaped yards than many of us make in a year or in 10 years.

As the saying often goes, “Life just isn’t fair.”

That is the opposite of the way it works in the Kingdom of God!

In God’s Kingdom life is so fair that it is difficult to get our minds around it!

Will Peter and the rest of the Twelve receive a reward?

You bet!

And it will be the greatest reward imaginable!

Jesus tells Peter, “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

What could be better than that?

The answer?

Nothing is better than that!

But then, Jesus throws in a zinger.

This is a real curve ball.

This is so awesome, so incredible it is almost too good to be true!

He adds, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

In other words, the original 12 disciples will receive a great reward…

…but so will everyone else who gives their lives to Christ!!!

Even the one’s who come into it in the last hour!

Some of us may have the idea that working in the Kingdom of God is some horrible chore.

But it’s not.

It is what brings us freedom, joy, peace, meaning, love, fellowship, self-worth and self-confidence…

…not to mention an intimate relationship; an intimate friendship with our Creator!!!

To be unemployed is a disaster!

To be employed in the Kingdom of God makes life worth the living!!!

In one sense this parable is a warning to the disciples.

It’s as if Jesus said to them, “You have received the great privilege of coming into the Christian Church and fellowship very early, right at the beginning.

In later days, others will come in.

You must not claim special honor and a special place because you were Christians before they were.”

All men and women, no matter when they come in, are equally precious to God!

Christianity knows nothing of the concept of superiority.

The world says, “You get what you deserve.”

And many of us tend to agree with that.

In God’s Kingdom, “We all get what we don’t deserve!”

We weren’t looking for God…none of us were.

God was looking for us!

The Bible makes it plenty clear that our salvation, our inheritance of eternal life is a free gift from God.

We can do nothing to deserve it.

It is not our right!

Instead, it is the highest privilege imaginable—it is a free gift with no strings attached.

It comes from the heart of God Who is Unconditional Love!!!

Salvation is something God does for us; there is nothing we can do to earn it nor deserve it!!!

It’s so awesome how God goes searching for us; not the other way around!!!

During a conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated, what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith.

The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room.

“What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions.

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