Summary: Discussion of Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, emphasizing the fact that it’s never too late to get involved in the work of the Kingdom.

Get into the Field!

Matthew 20:1-16

April 13, 2007



Me: I think it will come as a shock to absolutely no one here that I know next to nothing about agriculture.

Almost everything I know about farming came from watching Mr. Greenjeans on Captain Kangaroo.

My grandparents on my mother’s side were farmers, and their farm is still in that family.

But when they start talking about stuff, it’s like they’re speaking a different language altogether.

You know how in certain situations you find yourself having to pretend you’re actually interested in what the other person is saying?

When farmers start talking, I can’t even do that. I just get this blank look on my face that makes it plain to everyone else that I don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

Scripture uses some farming analogies, and the passage we’re going to look at today is one of them.

Thankfully, it’s not really about farming, and so I think I can grasp what Jesus is talking about, and that is that working for the Kingdom brings reward.

But beyond that, it says to me that Jesus is continually looking for people to work for Him, and that means that He can use me, as hard as that is for me (and others) to believe sometimes.

We: One of the challenges that pastors face is convincing their people that God has work for them to do – work for His kingdom.

Work that God has commissioned His people to do that will impact others for eternity.

Maybe you’re here today, in whatever situation, and you’re wondering, “Does God have anything for me to do? Can He possibly use me?

The answer is yes! And not only does He have work for you, but He rewards that work. And He wants you to share in that reward.

God: Our passage for today is found in Matthew 20:1-16 (p. 697) –

1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 "About the third hour (about 9:00 AM) he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ’You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

"He went out again about the sixth hour (noon) and the ninth hour (3:00 PM) and did the same thing. 6 About the eleventh hour (5:00 PM) he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ’Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 "’Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

"He said to them, ’You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ’Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ’These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ’and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 "But he answered one of them, ’Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Let me give you just a little background to help give some context to what Jesus is describing here.

The normal workday in Jesus’ time was about 10 hours, not counting breaks. The pay in this parable was the normal wage for a foot soldier or day laborer. (EBC, p. 427)

And day-laborers were paid at the end of the day, not at the end of a two-week pay period like so many do today. This was required so that the poor wouldn’t go hungry, according to Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

It’s incredibly important to understand that the landowner wasn’t being unfair to the workers who had been working all day.

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