Summary: God has work for us to do in His vineyard--the Church. Are we willing?
When the Romans used to attack a city, it was sometimes their custom to set up at the gate a white flag, and if the garrison surrendered while that white flag was there, their lives were spared. After that, the black flag was put up, and then every man was put to the sword.
Throughout our lives, God shows us the white flag. He gives us the opportunity to get right with Him through His son, Jesus Christ. He offers us eternal life. There’s nothing we can do to earn it. God rewards our choosing of this opportunity not simply what we accomplish.
This morning we are going to read a story that talks of opportunity and reward.
Read: Matt 20:1-16
The Master went out and gathered workers early in the morning, the Jewish work day started at 6am, then again at 9am, noon, 3pm, 5 pm (the 11th hour). We might refer to this as the hour of "last chance"
The primary scope of the parable is that the Jews were first called to God’s vineyard. Then the Gentiles received the call. The Apostles were sent out at 1&3 hour, they had a first and second mission while Christ was on earth--to call in the Jews. After Christ Ascension, about the sixth and ninth hour, they went again preaching the gospel to the Jews. And after a period of time -- as if to say the eleventh hour -- they called the Gentiles to the same Salvation message, explaining there is no difference between Jew and Greek.
Applied in a more general sense --- it shows all are equal. All are invited into God’s Kingdom.
Prop: It’s ALL about God’s Grace!
God is the master of the vineyard (His church) and the laborers are believers.
Today we’re going to take a closer look at the "opportunity" God has called us to.
Vs. 3 standing idle:
Man stands ready to be hired into one service or another--
servant to iniquity or a servant to righteousness
Devil hires workers in his field to feed swine.
God hires to dress His field, to keep it, to nurture it.
When we stand idle --have no purpose or direction. Life becomes routine, a rut and boring.
When we are called of God --have a purpose & direction. Life becomes joyful and exciting.
If you find the Christian life dull you might want to check your position around Christ. You might find that you are idle. Just sort of hanging around. Or maybe you’ve wandered away or you have not moved much from where He found you.
He doesn’t want us standing idle--He has work for us to do. He wants us to make the most of our time. He wants us to make the most of our life. He calls us from vanity to worth. He gives opportunity to our life.
"I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for good and not evil to give you a future and a hope."
God is looking for obedience when He calls. To come away from idleness.
Vs. 7 ’no one hired us’, the 11th hour
How can that be? God does not pass over anyone.
Some of us use excuses why we stay idle from God’s work. We use our families, our work, our busyness. We prefer our own interests. To follow after our own desires. Sometimes we just choose to do nothing.
And others choose all their life to excuse God’s call to Salvation. They use their age, their careers, their families, their dreams. They wait until the 11th hour. The last chance to accepting God’s invitation. And yet, He still invites them in.
It’s ALL about God’s Grace!
Vs. 8 beginning with the last
They had taken Him up on His offer last and they were paid first. Do you not think they were the most grateful? They had worked the least, yet received the same reward. I can hear the conversation now as they half skipped back to town, slapping each other on the back and giving high fives! “Wow! Can you believe it? We got paid the same! We worked an hour and got paid the same!”
ILLUS. I remember when I was first saved. I was thankful for eternal life. But, it wasn’t until after I had drifted away from the LORD for a number of years and then returned, experiencing once again His love and abundant forgiveness, that I was truly grateful. It was like experiencing that "11th hour" of grace. I’ve been giving high fives ever since!
I have had a few opportunities to share the gospel of grace with people on their deathbeds. I can tell you I have not seen such deep joy and wonder on a face at any other time. Their whole life they have gone their own way, ignoring God’s call. And now, in that 11th hour, they come to realize that He is still offering His gift of eternal life. And they are most grateful. No matter how long we have served sin...we can come!