For the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of an estate who went out in the morning at dawn to hire workmen for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, in the chapter before asks a question: “Look, we have given up everything and followed You [becoming Your disciples and accepting You as Teacher and Lord]; what then will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27) It is a question all believers ask in their journey following Jesus. What is in it for me? We have given up certain things, and in Peter’s case he had given up a lot to follow Jesus.Therefore the question, “What’s in it for me?” This parable from Jesus, in Matthew 20, will help us unpack this very human question.
Jesus depicts Himself in this parable as a landowner. On this land he has a vineyard, and this vineyard needs tending and harvesting. We see that the owner cares very much for the vineyard because he wakes early to find workers. He is not negligent with his harvest; he immediately hires the help of others to ensure the full harvest is reaped. We serve a God who is diligent with each human life. He cares for the vineyard carefully and faithfully.
The owner in this parable, representing God, collaborates with others. It is amazing that Jesus co-labors with us, He calls us into this beautiful vineyard to care for that which belongs to Him. He call us to cultivate freedom in other humans. He calls us to water with grace, to prune pride and weed out fear in our fellow humans. He calls us to graft others into the vine, which is Christ. But if we are doing it for rewards or for what God can give us, do we miss the point? This type of thinking can be rife in church: we are coveting each other's accolades, positions or human glory. We may miss the harvest of souls if we are workers worried about our pay.
This parable is not primarily about the work we do for Him but rather the amazing gift of grace that is awaiting all those who say yes to Him.
// Pastor Josh Kelsey