Matthew Chapter 20- Part 1
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard- Matthew Chapter 20:1-16
Jesus spoke a parable, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny/denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. He went out about the third hour (9 a.m.), and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them; You too go and work in my vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will pay you. They accepted and started working. Again he went out about the sixth (12 p.m.) and ninth hour (3 p.m.), and did likewise. About the eleventh hour (5 p.m.)he went out, and found others standing idle, and said to them, Why have you been standing here idle all day? They said, "Because no one hired us." He said to them, Go into my vineyard; and whatsoever is right, I will pay you. When it was evening, the Lord of the vineyard told his steward, "Call the labourers, and give them their pay, beginning from the last to the first." When those who were hired at the eleventh hour (5 p.m.) came, they received a penny/denarius. When those who were hired first in the morning came, they thought they would receive more; but each one was given a penny/denarius. When they had received it, they murmured against the landowner, saying, "These last have just worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us; we, who have borne the burden and heat of the day." But he answered one of them, and said, "Friend, I did you no wrong: did you not agree to work for me for a penny/denarius? Take that which is yours and go your way: I will give to this last, even as I have given you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own things? Is your eye evil, because I am good?"
Jesus ended the parable by saying, " So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
The period of service in the vineyard was not considered important here by the landowner. He paid the laborers what he felt was right, because he was the owner of all. Only the laborers hired first were told that they would be given a penny; all the others were told that the landowner would give them what he felt was right. All the laborers received the same wages, a penny, though some came in late and worked for shorter durations. When called in to the service for God and his kingdom, some labor for longer durations and some shorter; the rewards may seem unjust because it is done with human calculations and often with jealousy and envy, but since God is the giver of grace to do anything that we do, it's finally up to him to decide whom to reward in what way. Having the mind of Christ, integrity and faithfulness are what God focuses upon more than the duration of service. The one who has worked for shorter duration may receive the same reward as the one who labored longer. The last becomes the first and the first last, so as to say.
The Jews (called first) had the covenant blessings of God, but most of them rejected Jesus through whom grace came. The Gentiles who were called eventually and they who accepted the offer of salvation through Jesus, were rewarded with the same promise of eternal life as was first presented to God's chosen people. They who were last became first, and the first became last.
The Gospel call goes out to all who hear through all generations. Yet, the chosen ones are the ones who would accept the offer of eternal life by grace through faith and then live for their Lord and Savior and remain faithful to him, working diligently for him, till their call to go to their eternal home comes. Many are called, but few are chosen.