Summary: Most of us are use to earning stuff. Or to trading one thing for another. That's how the world works. That's not how God works. This sermon explores the grace of God through a familiar and wonderful parable of Jesus
God’s Grace in a Wage-Based World – Sermon for CATM –October 3, 2020
We are continuing to explore the Parables of Jesus both in our Sunday online services, and then also in our Thursday Fireside Bible chat, where we look at the scripture passage that we talked about on Sunday, in greater depth, seeking deeper understanding and greater application in our lives.
You are more than welcome to join our Fireside Bible chat on Thursdays at 11 AM. We meet on Zoom and you can get there easily by clicking on our linktree portal. The address for that looks like this:
This is the second parable in a row that Jesus used to express profound truths about the kingdom of God and he did this using not so much farming or agrarian images as he does using the language and ideas of commerce and earning a wage.
The message today is called “Grace in a Wage-based World”.
In the parable today Jesus is talking about the workers in the vineyard. He's saying or describing what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. Jesus uses many parables and sayings to express the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is the realm of God's Rule and reign. The Kingdom of Heaven is where what matters to God matters to everyone, where right and wrong are determined by God on God's terms.
And so, in our parable, there's a land owner, a person of some power and influence. It's early in the morning. As is his habit, he goes out to hire workers to work in his Vineyard.
He offers the workers each a Denarius, which they agree to, and then he sends them to work in his Vineyard.
A denarius is a decent day's wage for full day's work. Nowadays that might be the equivalent of around $100 or maybe $120. Nothing to sneer at.
So, again each worker has agreed to work for a full day for that amount.
A couple of hours later the same landowner goes out, around 9 in the morning, and sees some other folks standing around not doing anything.
So he tells them, or invites them, to go and work in his Vineyard. He says “I will pay you whatever is right”. So they went and joined the other workers.
Then, a couple hours later, around lunchtime, around noon and then at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, he did the same thing.
All the workers agree to work for the landowner, and they are trusting him that they will be paid “whatever is right”.
We get a sense that the landowner is known, trusted enough so that people will work for him and they will take his word for getting the right wage.
Around 5 in the afternoon, as the sun is starting to set, he goes out and finds still others standing around. And he asked him, ``Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?”
They answer him frankly: “Because no one has hired us”. So the landowner says to them: ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
So far, no problem. A very normal day. There's work that needs to get done, there is workers who are hired to an agreed-upon wage, and then there's the work day. Nothing special going on here.
Our story continues:
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 five in the afternoon 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 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.’
So even in the text we can feel some of the tension in the room. Why the tension? What’s the affront, the offense? Those who worked twelve hours were paid the same amount as those who had worked only one hour.
There is some feeling of Injustice here.” I've been working all day, working hard, sweating in the Sun”.
“And these guys here, they barely worked long enough to break a sweat. I deserve more than them. I have earned more than them. You have made me equal with them. I think there should be a distinction. I am not equal to them. I am better than them.
I have done more. I have given more of myself, more of my time. Me and them, we're not equal. I'm speaking up for my rights!”