The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing [a]idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, [b]and whatever is right you will receive.’
8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they [c]complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For[d] many are called, but few chosen.” – Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus taught in Parables so those hearing Him could understand better. For the parable was an indirect way to reference God. Each worker arrived at the work sight at different times during the day. All agreed with the owner what the wage would be for each of them. The first, however was clear that it would be a day’s wage. The other were told that they would receive what was right. The controversy started when the wage was paid and the last who worked one hour received the same as those who worked longer or for the entire day.
Since we’re talking about God, who doesn’t have a bank account, or concern over money, he can pay as He chooses. Those who worked in the fields were doing what the owner asked of them. When we do what God asks of us, we are doing his will. Each of us, worker or faithful, are doing the will of the owner or fulfilling the will of God. The worker is paid with a denarius while we the faithful are paid with God’s greatest gift, eternal life. And does not the denarius represent eternal life? Do you believe that the person who has been faithful his whole life and has done God’s will would begrudge another who may have converted to God on his death bed the same? The contester should hope that the mercy shown to the death bed convert is also shown to him for his selfish response. So trite will the concerns be over who got what, when each is in God’s House. For the least and worst of human natures are not resolved but dissolved when enfolded in the love of God. Where one finds what has been sought by mankind since “The Fall”, perfect love, absolute truth and life everlasting.
Now some might argue that the last workers might have on hearing of the generous nature of the owner decided to hide out and show themselves at the late hour likely to get more than would have been expected. As the death bed convert contrives to use God’s mercy as a get out of jail fee card. Do you think God, unlike the owner, has not the ability to look into one’s mind and heart and determine if they are honest or trying to play God? After all He said I knew you when you were in the womb. We are because He is. God sees in us what is or is not of Himself.
“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” – Puk, A Midsummer Night’s Dream