In this parable, we see two tendencies:
God’s tendency towards grace.........and people’s tendency towards grumbling.
Grace or grumbling – which describes you better?
Those close to us in our families and here in the Church and in the workplace – what have they seen this week in you and me – grace or grumbling?
Those who don’t know us, what have they seen in us – the shop worker, the beggar, the taxi that has squashed in front of us, what do all these see in us, in we who have the Spirit of the Living God within us, in we who are born again, in we who have come to salvation in Christ, what do they see in us: grace or grumbling?
Remember....you are the only Bible that many have studied this week.
The owner of the vineyard hired workers at the start of the day and said I will pay you the normal wage, one silver coin/denarius.....R150 is the going rate for the guys who stand on our street corners here in Alberton. And through the day, he goes out and hires more people, even at 5 pm he got workers who work for 1 hour. Then he pays them. The Biblical principle is that workers are paid daily...Leviticus 19:13 Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight and Deuteronomy 24:14-15 Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin. That’s not the company code today, but it remains God’s code – it is unethical and against the teaching of Scripture to withhold money owing to a worker if he/she wants it.
So the owner pays the chaps who came for 1 hour R150.....................and he pays the chaps who’ve worked all day, R150, the amount they agreed to work for.
And, When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner ..... they grumble
The owner is showing great kindness, mercy, grace and they grumble – they think it’s unfair.
They are angry because he has been kind, merciful, gracious
But they grumble
How about you? We always need to find ourselves in a parable. So, how do you feel?........
Is this unfair or is this just wonderful?
Our answer is a measure of whether we tend towards grumbling or towards grace.
Our answer is a measure of the place that is really home to us, is this world and its ways our home...... or is God’s Kingdom and His Ways the place we feel more at home? And it is so easy to live and be comfortable in the world and its ways and to pay lip service to the Kingdom of God and His ways......but that’s a dangerous game to play and it has dreadful consequences in this life and the next.
This parable helps to show us which world it is that we prefer because we often manage to fool even ourselves regarding where our allegiance really lies. In Romans 12:2, Paul exhorts us: Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world. Do you hear that …… Do you really hear that?
Whenever Jesus begins a parable with the words, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like....” we need to be warned that some cherished worldly principles (in this parable it’s the principle that governs fairness and perhaps also the issue of economic justice)......a cherished worldly principle is about to be turned on its head and the choice we are given and the challenge we are left with is to live Kingdom lives rather than worldly lives.
Jesus began His Ministry with the words:
The Kingdom of Heaven is near.
Then He taught us to pray:
Your Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Then, in a number of parables and in His life of good works, He shows us what the Kingdom is like and who is in it – all different kinds of people. In this parable, another principle established is that the people who have just come in, have exactly the same status and standing as those who've been in it for years. There’s no coming in at the ground level and working your way up the corporate ladder in the Kingdom of God.
The deathbed conversion gets the same wage as the lifelong ministry which will have included many hardships and sufferings and blessings – the wage being Eternal life.
Ultimately Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock and if you say come in I will come in, bringing with Me my kingdom and my friends, so that through you and all my friends, my Kingdom will come on earth and in Alberton, and my will will be done on earth and in Alberton by my real friends, even as it is done in Heaven.”
I think the challenge before us today is to see the inherent beauty of grace, the absolute ugliness of grumbling and to make a conscious choice, towards grace, away from grumbling .......in other words, to repent, which means to change direction, from the way of the world to the way of the Kingdom, the way of Jesus.