Summary: The parable of the vineyard in Matthew 20 is almost mind boggling in scope and what can be extracted from it. In this sermon we are taking a look at the relationship between the owner and the workers and becoming an employee and the "doing".
Now we need to remember that we can never take a scripture out of context. Just before this the Rich Young Ruler asks Jesus in
Matthew 19:16b (NASB)
“Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
This was an underlying foundation in the mind of the rich young ruler - doing obtains eternal life.
The religious system of that day was all about doing.
The assumption was that if you were doing the right things, if you were righteous in your actions, you would be rich.
If you remember, this is exactly the same logic that Job’s friends were using; over and over and over and over and over …
Jesus follows this up by saying …
Matthew 19:23-24 (NASB)
“Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
The “Eye of the Needle” gate in Jerusalem is a fiction … why?
1) There is absolutely NO historic evidence for such a gate ever existing
2) The phrase Jesus uses is "the eye of a needle" not "the eye of the needle" as a gate would most likely be
3) According to the common use of the illustration of the gate the camel would need to be unloaded, the camel
crawls through the gate, the owner retrieves his stuff and reloads the camel. Is THAT how salvation
4) What the gate illustrations describes is frustratingly difficult but not impossible. Jesus answers the disciples
with, "What is IMPOSSIBLE with men is possible with God."
5) Taken to the end logic Jesus would have been saying that salvation IS possible by doing.
What Jesus said simply flew in the face of everything they had heard from the religious leaders of those days. “They were greatly astonished!”
Peter, following the logic of Jesus’ discussion with the rich young ruler says, “Hey, we did what you asked of him. We left everything. What about us?
Jesus says, “You (the disciples) are going to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.”
“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
Just what does that mean? Let's see what Jesus goes on to tell them …
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around.
“He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“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.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.
“When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘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.’
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.
“Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
OK. Let’s just stop here for a second and take a look at something in verse
“For the kingdom of heaven is LIKE …
Jesus is not telling them that something new is happening here. Jesus is not telling them that there is a big shift in the way the Kingdom of heaven works. Jesus is saying, the rich young ruler and the religious leaders of this day (the time of Christ) have got it wrong; this is how it works!