New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Workers in the Vineyard

This parable speaks of the benefits of waiting till the last minute to go picking grapes.


Ok. How about this – it speaks of standing around idle in the marketplace.

No no.

Dang – I think I got it! This parable speaks of the benefits of not entering into a contract with an employer.

No no no.

How about we just read the parable and consider the message Jesus is trying to communicate to us.

Matthew 20:1-16

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Back in Matthew 19:23, Jesus begins to teach his disciples of the difficulty of a rich person entering into heaven. It appears this parable is an extension of this teaching, especially when you consider the last verse of chapter 19 is identical to the last verse of our parable

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

NALC Devotions - November 30, 2017 - North American ...

As mentioned in an earlier answer, this parable was given to the disciples.

As I have often been taught, this parable is focused on the generosity of the Master of the House, and this is true. He is gracious, and his freedom to do as He pleases is emphasized in this parable. And yet, the “punch” at the end of the parable was intended for the disciples.

You see, He purposely told the story to emphasize the Master’s “out of the box” generosity, in order to highlight to those listening to the parable of their own sense of justice.

What was the message for the original audience?

The message to the disciples is simple. Be satisfied with what the Master gives you. Do not let the time of serving define your worth!

How often has He had to teach this direct connection between the Master and His servant in the Word? How often has He had to tell His people to not compare themselves with His other children?

Consider John 21:21- 22

John 21:21-22

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

What is the message for us today?

The message for us is simple to understand, and yet it is so easy to forget. Remember that the Lord is gracious to all and that comparing our selves with others is foolishness.

2 Corinthians 10:12b

But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

How often have you seen a believer getting some attention and we find your heart falling into a jealous funk.

You see a disciple receiving answered prayers and become discouraged, because God isn’t answering your prayers as fast or as often.

You see a follower with (seemingly) no problems, and fall into a victimhood mentality.

Try to understand. Do not be “without understanding”.

The Master is full of mercy, generous to all, but it is His prerogative who and when folks will realize His mercy and we must trust His loving heart to rest in this fact! - The Lectionary Comic

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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