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Summary: Workers hired at different times of day. Represent? 1. Time they were saved? 2. Amount of 'heat' they took? 3. Proportion of Loss? 4. Amount of Work they did? We complain God isn't being fair. God responds that He knows what's best!

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THE VINEYARD WORKER’S COMPLAINT

Mt. 20:1-16

INTRODUCTION

A. HUMOR: The salesman

1. Morris applied for a job at MEN’S WEARHOUSE. During his interview, Ben, the personnel manager asked him, "Where did you last work?"

2. "Joseph A Bank," replied Morris, proudly. "And how long did you work for them?" asked Ben. "A long time - 40 years in fact," replied Morris.

3. Ben was a bit startled by this response and said to Morris, "40 years, eh? So how old did you say you were?"

"I’m 51 years old," replied Morris.

4. "I don’t understand," says Ben. "If you’re 51, how come you say you worked for them for 40 years?"

Quick as a flash, Morris replied, "I put in a lot of overtime."

5. We’re going to read about some other workers and their long hours.

B. TEXT

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning 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 noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 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?’ 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 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.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one 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.”

C. THESIS

1. The details of the story are the sort of thing that could easily have happened in any Jewish village at the grape harvest. But there are a couple of surprises.

2. So we’re going to look at the basics of the parable, what the work difficulty represents, the concept of inequality, and God’s reply to our complaints.

3. The title of this message is “The Vineyard Worker’s Complaint.”

I. BASICS OF THE PARABLE

A. THE PROBLEM & THE SURPRISE

1. The origin of the problem is that the Landowner contracted to pay all the workers the same wage, regardless of whether they worked one hour or ten hours. That’s not good business, but this story isn’t about running a business anyway.

2. To me it’s surprising that the workers complained about being paid what they contracted to work for. There’s often inequality in pay in the work place.

3. Why did the workers feel this way? Some workers felt that since they had experienced greater work or difficulty, they deserved to get paid more than those who worked/ suffered very little.

4. They complained that the Landowner wasn’t JUST or FAIR in His rewards to His workers. To me it speaks of a bitter attitude.

B. 3 KEY SYMBOLS & THEIR MEANING

1. Since this is a parable about the “Kingdom of God,” it’s safe to assume that the Landowner = God, the Vineyard = Israel or the Church (which it is in O.T. prophecy), and the workers are the people of God.

2. Christians are supposed to demonstrate the love & life of Jesus to those around them. That’s our job.

C. AMOUNT THEY AGREED TO WORK FOR

1. This Parable points out one universal fact: they all agreed to be paid the same amount. This amount, described as a denarius, was evidently considered a generous wage for a full day’s labor because the first set of workers readily agreed to it.

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