Summary: This message is our eighth in the series and looks at the greed and grace of this story.
8 The Kingdom of Heaven is Like a Landowner
The story is told that a man once encountered Abraham Lincoln walking down the street with his two young sons and both boys were howling. “What’s wrong with the boys Abe?” the man asked. “What’s wrong with the boys is what’s wrong with the world” Lincoln responded “I have three chestnuts and they both want two.”
Actually I think the president was wrong, I don’t think the main consideration for Tad and Willie was that they wanted more than their brother I think what they were more concerned about was whether or not their brother would have more than them.
It is one of the most common and least enviable traits that people exhibit. The fear that someone else is going to get something that you didn’t get. It’s really hard.
And it’s not the big difference, I really couldn’t care less that someone got a great deal on Rolls Royce, but if I bought a new Corolla and found out that you got yours for a thousand dollars less it would be tough for me to celebrate with you. Does that make me a bad person?
And if it was limited to material things it wouldn’t be so bad, but I think deep in the dark place that hides inside of all of us we might be able to agree with Gore Vidal who wrote “”whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.
So here we are, week nine into our series “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like. . .” Way back in June we started looking at the parables that Jesus began with those words. Parables were one of the teaching methods that Jesus used in his preaching. Not the only method but perhaps his favourite method. Parables are short stories that contain a moral, kind of like a fable but different. And some of them are fairly clear and some are a little less clear.
And so as Jesus taught his apostle what they could expect the Kingdom of Heaven to be like he used the everyday to illustrate the eternal, the secular to reveal the sacred.
“Look my kingdom will be like, a man working in a field, a fishing net being thrown into the sea, a mustard seed taking root on the side of the road, a wheat field or bread rising in a kitchen” Everyday things in their world that they would be familiar with . And so we began our series not with one of Jesus’ parables but instead with the statement “The Kingdom of Heaven is like an Inukshuk” Because really isn’t that the type of thing that Jesus would have used if he had of been teaching in Northern Canada instead of Palestine.
If Jesus had of been teaching the Inuit people in their language, which is Inuktitut, he wouldn’t have used wheat fields and vineyards as illustrations, instead he would have looked around the barren northern landscape and part of what he would have seen are the stone sententials that are so familiar in that area. And he would have said “The Kingdom of heaven is like an Inukshuk.”
And if you’ve been here for some of the messages or perhaps you just really knowledgeable about inukshuks then you know that in Inuktitut Inukshuk means “likeness of a person” or in the larger definition “something which acts for or performs the function of a person.” Inuk meaning person and shuk meaning similar. And the Northern People saw the inukshuk as an integral part of their world, just as Christ followers, living out the commands of Christ should be an integral part of the world today.
And in the same way that the inukshuk provided landmarks in a landscape that had very few natural landmarks we are to provide moral landmarks. And just as the inukshuk pointed the Inuit in the right direction as they travelled we are to provide a moral compass for our world, and just as the inukshuk was used sometime to warn people of potential danger the church is to warn people of the consequences of sin and of the horror of an eternity without God and his love.
But Jesus was not teaching in Nunavut on this day, instead we are told that his travels had taken him east of the Jordan river and it was there as he taught that he told the story of the Landowner and the Vineyard. Matthew 20:1-2 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.
You know at least part of the story because Karen read it earlier, it was time for the harvest and so the man went out to hire people to pick his grapes. I love grapes don’t know if I would be the best person to send out to pick them. But the story tells us that the man went to the marketplace very early in the morning, in the original language we are told that is was at six a.m., and yes as surprising as it seems there are two six o’clocks in the day. And we are told that that work day would have continued until the next six o’clock, apparently back then you only had to work for a half day and it didn’t matter which 12 hours it was.