Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
Mathew 1:17
Mathew 1: 18-25 Mathew 2: 1-23 Mathew 3: 1-17 Mathew 4: 1-11 Mathew 4: 12-25
Matthew 5:1-12 Part 1 Matthew 5:1-12 Part 2 Mathew 5:13-16 Mathew 5:17-26 Mathew 5:27-37 Mathew 5:38-48
Mathew 6:1-8, 16-18 Mathew 6: 7-15 Mathew 6:19-34 Mathew 6:25-34 Mathew 7:1-12 Mathew 7:15-23
Mathew 7: 24-29 Mathew 8: 1-17 Mathew 8: 18-34 Mathew 9: 1-13 Mathew 9:14-26 Mathew 9:27 - 10:31
Mathew 10:32-42 Mathew 11:1-31 Mathew 12:1-21 Mathew 12:22-50 Mathew 13:1-23 Mathew 13: 24-43
Mathew 13: 44-52 Mathew 13:54 -14:12 Mathew 14:13-21 Mathew 14:22-36 Mathew 15:1-20 Mathew 15:21-31
Mathew 15: 32-39 Mathew 16:13-23 Matthew 16:24-28 Matthew 17:1-13 Matthew 17:14-27 Matthew 18:1-14
Matthew 18:15-20 Matthew 18:21-35 Matthew 19:1-12 Matthew 19:13-30 Matthew 20:1-16 Matthew 20:17-34
Matthew 21: 1-11 Matthew 21:12-17 Matthew 21:18-22 Matthew 21:23-46 Matthew 22:1-14 Matthew 22:15-46
Matthew 23:1-39 Matthew 24:1-31 Matthew 24:32-44 Matthew 25:1-46 Matthew 26:1-13 Matthew 26:14-54
Matthew 26: 54-75 Matthew 27:1-26 Matthew 27:27-66 Matthew 28:1-20    
           

 

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Matthew 20:1-16

 

“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.  And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.  And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them:  Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you.  And they went their way.  Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.  And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?  They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us.  He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.  So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning at the last unto the first.  And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.  But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.  And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.  But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong:  didst not thou agree with me for a penny?  Take that thine is, and go thy way:  I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?  Is thine eye evil, because I am good?  So the last shall be first, and the first last:  for many be called, but few chosen.”

 

It’s All About the Grace of God

 

“…you know, Tonya indicated, Marty shared first service about a few folks [down in the Katrina devastation their short-term missions were helping out with], one gal, I guess the team went down, was cleaning her house out, but she had essentially, some of the clothing that she had been wearing she had been wearing for two months.  And Marty was sharing basically, because she was in a state of overwhelming shock, her house just in the state it was in, and not knowing what to do.  And they spent that Monday cleaning out her house, or the Tuesday, or whatever day it was, and getting it going.  And the next day, don’t you know, the gal came out all dressed nicely, make-up and her hair done.  It was like just hope in her life, that she’d even gotten ready with her clothes and stuff.  The guy next door had lost his wife in the hurricane, and that gal now whose getting her life going, and they’re cleaning her house, and she’s got some hope, and starts to minister to the guy next door who had lost his wife.  And so, just going down and cleaning out houses is bringing people hope, just bearing with them in their burdens.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm] As mentioned too about the trips, there are more teams going down, if that’s something God is stirring your hearts to do.

 

A warning about the Health & Wealth Prosperity gospel

 

We are in Matthew chapter 20.  I yesterday, looking briefly at the TV, just one of those moments, kind of wanting to be brain-dead for a moment, so a good thing to do is, if you want to be brain-dead is turn on the TV.  Right?  So I turn on the tube and of course, with our little TV, no cable, just antenna, all you could see is college football, every channel, one game, another game, another game.  You know, I like football, I like sports, I like watching a good game.   But at the same time, every single channel, it was just a reminder to me as a society, we’ve kind of gotten goofy with sports, we’re so sports crazed.  There are folks that will try to watch every game, record some of the games that they can’t watch because other games are on, and will spend hours and hours and hours and hours watching every single game, and that’s football.  Then comes basketball and the NCA tournament, they’ll watch every single game.  Not only do they watch the games, they watch all the commentaries  about the games after the games, and it’ll just go from one sport to another sport.  Their life is defined by sports.  And maybe some of you are squirming a little bit, because you’re wondering where I’m going---‘Now don’t go there, man’, because that just happens to be you, you know.  But we’ve just kind of gone goofy with sports in our culture, we are sports crazed.  And because of that, too, we reward people in our culture who perform in excellence in sports, people that achieve a certain status or a certain level of performance.  Because of the way they throw the ball or hit the ball, or shoot the ball, they are at a certain level, and therefore we give them honor, because we are into sports, and they have earned a certain honor according to our understanding.  And it’s interesting, even athletes that have really achieved high places and levels of athletics, they’re even in some instances given honor like they’re a dignitary.  It’s amazing, I mean, they meet with the President, they’re on all the talk shows, and the way they’re treated is like they’re a dignitary.  It’s very interesting to me.  It’s also because of our fascination with sports, there are folks that are young today, and that is their aspiration, and that is their only aspiration, is to achieve a certain level within sports.  There are even parents in our culture, we read about it more and more, that their aspiration, their desire for their children is that they would achieve a high level of success in sports.  So their parenting and their structure of their week, from Monday through Sunday, everything is sports, sports, sports, to get my kids to achieve a high level of success.  And of course you read about kids, and you do, I’ve read about it, heard about it, watched it on TV, that are experiencing stress and discouragement and depression and pressure because of mom and dad just trying to get them to succeed in sports.  And you know, with this sports-crazed mentality, we reward those who achieve high levels of achievement in sports, but then at the same time, because we are the way we are, if you don’t do so well, you can be looked down upon.  For instance, I think of poor old Billy Buckner.  And you say that name in New England, and memories came back for a lot of us who have been around awhile.  Billy Buckner, you may or may not remember, back in the 1986 World Series, I was watching it.  Professional athlete, great athlete, here he is, he’s injured, hobbling around, a critical time in the game, this World Series, we lost to the Mets.  You know, he could have just caught the ball there, and put the guy out at first base, but the ball goes between his legs, poor old Billy Buckner.  Now, because of our sports craze, 2004, watching the World Series, and here now the Red Sox redeemed themselves, they win the World Series in Saint Louis.  And don’t you know, a guy goes by with a banner, maybe you saw it, they win the World Series in Saint Louis, and the banner says “I forgive you Billy Buckner.”  It’s 18 years later, this guy’s held a grudge against poor old Billy Buckner, 18 years later, ‘I forgive you Billy Buckner.’  Goofy culture.  Man we’ve just gotten really goofy with sports.  But you know to look at somebody, and to exalt them because in our eyes they’ve done well in a certain thing, or to look down upon somebody else that isn’t doing so well, that’s just human nature, to be impressed with that, and to be not so impressed with something else, it’s just human nature.  And the reason why I start with that as an illustration, because unfortunately that same type of perspective and reasoning works its way into the Church [Body of Christ], because it’s human nature.  In the Church we can do the same thing, we can look at certain people and their supposed performance spiritually, or their ministry, or the fruit of their ministry, or their prayer-life, or their knowledge of the Scripture, or whatever it might be, and we can begin to look at them, like they’re given a certain status, we’re impressed by that.  And then on the other hand, we can do that same thing, it’s human nature, it happens, that somebody maybe whose not as visible, seemingly in our eyes, not as important, their personality isn’t so expressive, their gifts are less visible, the fruit of their ministry is less seen.  So we can then maybe not quite look at them the same way, and be as impressed with them, but be less impressed.  And so there can be then feelings in the Church of, ‘Well there are those that are more deserving, and maybe those that are less deserving.  We can struggle with that.  I can feel that I’m more deserving, because this is what I do.  Or you can feel, because of whatever, ‘I’m less deserving.’  It’s just human nature.  But then we come to the words of Christ, in chapter 19, verse 30, that’s where we left off last week.  And then we pick up in chapter 20, and Jesus is saying certain things.  He says this, Matthew 19:30, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”  You may remember, Peter, you know Jesus has just made certain comments about the rich man, and getting into the kingdom of heaven.  Of course he gave this man an opportunity to turn to him, and the rich man struggled, this young ruler, because he just loved his belongings, and he walked away sorrowful.  Jesus says “it’s harder for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”  And of course folks were surprised at that, because in their culture, if you were physically, materially blessed, it was considered that God must be pleased with you, and that was indicative of spiritual blessing.  [Comment:  There is a part of the Body of Christ which is infected with that teaching.  These are the denominations or churches which tend to teach a ‘Health & Wealth Prosperity Gospel’ which tends to even overpower the actual Gospel of Salvation.  In fact, some believe churches in the end times who teach this kind of doctrine fit right into what is termed as The Laodician Era of the Church.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation3-1-22.html to read about the two Church Era’s that live side-by-side right up to just before the start of the Tribulation.  One of these two Church Era’s goes through the Tribulation, while the other is protected from having to go through it.  The Health & Wealth, Prosperity gospel is a spiritually deadly gospel.  Don’t be infected with it.]  So to say it’s hard for the rich to get into the kingdom of God was a surprise to the disciples and his listeners at the time.  But then, Jesus says, ‘With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’, and that anybody, you know, salvation is a God-thing.  Well you may remember, Peter, hearing about the rich man, who had a hard time leaving his belongings, Peter says, ‘Jesus, we’ve left everything to follow you, we’ve just sacrificed greatly [Peter, James and John walked away from careers in the fishing industry.  James and John were the sons of Zebedee, who ran a fishing business, which marketed fresh and salt-fish down in Jerusalem.  Israeli archaeologists have found the foundation of a building belonging to Zebedee in Jerusalem, and John was known by the family of the high priest, due to his marketing fish to the rich in Jerusalem, which got John and Peter into the high priest’s courtyard during Jesus’ interrogation the night before his crucifixion.  So those three disciples walked away from lucrative positions in the fishing industry that was making them a lot of money.]  And Jesus says, ‘You know, your sacrifices, you’ll find, are more than worth it.  You’ll be rewarded and blessed for your sacrifices indeed,’ as you remember in verses 28 and 29. 

 

When it comes to God’s grace, it has nothing to do with our own merit

 

But then he makes the point, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”  Of course, dealing with the human heart and human nature, that thought of maybe thinking you’re very deserving, and yet you’re not understanding the perspective of God and so you’re looking at things in a wrong perspective.  You know that statement certainly puts a spin on the whole subject as far as the way we view it, viewing things from the human perspective.  We read that in verse 30, and often we’ll interpret it this way, we’ll interpret it that ‘Those who exalt themselves, wanting to be first or seen as first, will in the end find themselves that they are actually last, and those who humbly take the least position, the last position, will find in the end that they’re actually at the head of the line’, will take it that way.  I think that way sometimes, when I’m at like a church pot-luck, I think of this verse, ‘I’m really hungry, there’s this great food sitting on the table, and I want to run right out there, it’s a male thing to want to get right up there and fill that plate, you know, and then, but no ‘Those who are first will be last’, I’ll wait to be at the end of the line, you know what I mean, I’ll go last, because that’s actually being first.  You know, we reason, we think of this verse in that context.  And Jesus has taught already that there is great value in humility.  In talking about greatness, Jesus has said, ‘Those that are willing to take the least position, and not be recognized by men, not caring, but just taking whatever that position is, that is greatness.’  And that’s true.  And the Bible says in other places in the New Testament, ‘If you humble yourself, you’ll be exalted, if you exalt yourself you’ll be humbled.’  But yet when Jesus says what he does in verse 30, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first”, there’s a whole lot more to it.  And that’s why he continues now with this parable in chapter 20.  There’s much more to that phrase, as we pick up with Jesus’ words now.  What we’re going to find, when he says what he does in verse 30, is he’s especially referring to the grace of God towards men, the grace of God towards men.  When it comes to his grace, when it comes to his favor in my life, it has nothing to do with my own merit, my own works, my own personal doing.  Therefore it is important to keep that perspective, that the grace of God, the grace of God in my life, the grace of God in your life, it’s all about his grace, it’s not about our merit and our doing, it’s just about his grace.  And as you understand his grace, you have peace.  I’m not to glory in other men, I’m not to glory in myself, I’m just to be blown away by the grace of God, that God would even love us and use us in the way that he does.  That’s really the heart of what he shares now.  When he says what he does in verse 30, he’s bringing in this point about his grace.  It’s about the grace of God.  And let’s say a word of prayer, and we’ll get started.  ‘Lord, I thank you for your Word, and I thank you that we can study chapter 20 together.  And Lord, I ask through the Holy Spirit you’d open our eyes to the wonderful things that are here, and you’d just give us insight into your truth, of course to have a greater appreciation of your grace, that it’s really all about your grace, it’s about your work, your doing.  What a privilege, what a great life, what a strong life, what a peaceful life, the more I see your grace for what it is.  And so often we’re struggling, because we’re just not appreciating your grace.  And so Lord, we would ask simply Holy Spirit you’d open our eyes to the things that are here, and you’d give us a greater insight into your grace.  And I just thank you Lord, and I pray too for those who are here that, they know very little about your grace, and that is because they don’t know you, and they don’t know salvation.  I pray for them too, Lord, and ask that you’d just touch their hearts and open their eyes to what you want even do in their lives right now, in giving them salvation and hope in eternal life because of your grace…in Jesus name, amen.’ 

 

What I’ve done is by the Grace of God Alone

 

You know, considering his grace, there are times, folks will, who have known me from the past, and knew me for what I used to be and what I used to do, who will come and maybe visit the church, folks that haven’t been here in years, maybe, and will come and see what the Lord is doing---and they’ll say to me, you know, they’ll say “Steve, man, I’m impressed, I’m just impressed, man, look what you’ve done around here.”  And my response is always, “It’s because of God’s grace, it’s because of his grace.”  And then I can go on and tell them the story, it’s because of his grace, let me tell you. I used to be a sinner, and I didn’t even know the Lord, and I was in a desperate state and couldn’t do anything about it, and God saved me for starters, and then not only that, I was even a believer, and I was living a pretty lousy life back in my college years.  And there was a little Asian friend, Demetrius that God just kept sending into my life, and didn’t leave me alone, and eventually God used him and others, two guys named George to get my life going in the Lord.  It was because of his grace, I didn’t do that.  Then God sent me on a business trip to San Diego, I thought it was like beech-time and palm-tree time, and I ended up moving there, but the Lord had me meet my wife out there, but also go to this church out there , and he knew if I went there, that this guy Mike, his personality and his ministry would have such an influence upon my life, that I then in that, learned the calling of God upon my life, and I would leave the career I had and go into ministry, and then moving here, it would be like catching a pass [in football], he’d drop a radio station in my lap, and we’d start broadcasting, and about 90 percent of the people that are here are here because of the Radio.  You know, my point is, I could go on and on and on, and just share the grace of God.  God is doing this work, and he’d do it with anybody else.  He’s just doing this work.  Now, I say that, because that’s the heart of what I see here.  It’s true in your life, and it’s true in my life, it’s the grace of God.  I am what I am because of the grace of God, my ministry, my gifts, my life, it’s all because of his grace.  Now, chapter 20, maybe you’ve studied this parable, and you’ve understood it in certain ways, and I respect that, and I’ll do my best in giving you what I believe Jesus is saying here. 

 

The parable of the labourers in the vineyard

 

Chapter 20, verses 1-16, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.  Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.  And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’  So they went.  Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.  And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’  They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’  He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’  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.’  And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.  But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.  And when they received it, they complained against the landowner, 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.’  But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong.  Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Take what is yours and go your way.  I wish to give this last man the same as you.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?  Or is your eye evil because I am good?’  So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few are chosen.”  Verse 30 [of Matthew 19] and verse 16, same phrase, bookends for this parable.  Very clearly, what he is drawing out is this point, ‘But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’  Now, sharing this parable, this is the ninth time we see Jesus sharing a parable, and I wish as at other times, he does this a few times, but not every time, I wish as with a couple of the parables he would have gone on and shared what this parable means.  He doesn’t do that.  He does that with a couple parables, but most of them he doesn’t, he just gives the parable.  And the reason why I say that is because it seems to me, personally, it is a challenge to really with full confidence, 100 percent, get the meaning of all the parables.  And you’ve maybe been here awhile as I’ve taught through the parables, and I’ve confessed, that each time, I find the parables the hardest things to teach through.  There are a couple to me that seem real easy, and then there are others, like, ‘OK, is it this, or is it that?’.  When I study the parables, and I’ll begin to prepare my study for services in the morning, and I’ll be going in one direction, and then after a little while go in another direction, and then I go back and forth, back and forth.  And this parable to me is one like that also.  It can be a bit of a challenge.  I was talking to a pastor just a little while ago, and he was sharing with me how there are a few in his church, he’s learned recently, that don’t agree with some of his teaching and are a little upset.  And so, I mentioned to him, I said, ‘You know, what exactly are the teachings?’  And he mentioned to me, ‘Well I was teaching through this parable, and they didn’t agree with my interpretation of the parable, they believe it’s this, and I believe it’s what I taught, and they were kind of upset about it.’  And I said to him, ‘You know, don’t be surprised, man, when it comes to the parables.’  You know, I pull out a commentary, I did it for this parable, I pull out a bunch of commentaries, man, I was looking at all kinds of guys.  And that only makes it worse.  It only makes it worse.  Because there is this guy, refuting these, and here is this guy refuting that, and it just goes on and on and on and on with the parables, more than any other subject in the New Testament.  And so I say that to this guy, and he says ‘I think it’s easy, I think they’re easy, they’re clear.’  I said, ‘Really?’  So we started to talk, and don’t you know a little later we’re debating.  We’re going through the parables, and now we’re completely debating, going back and forth, and by the end I think he agreed, it’s hard to figure out these parables.  It isn’t as clear as it seems.  Now, you may be thinking, ‘What am I talking about?’  Well, I’ll just be honest with you, if you think that this is a real simple one, praise the Lord, man [laughter], praise the Lord, man, good for you.  And the reason why I say that, I’ll be honest with you, it’s the phrase at the beginning.  When you interpret this parable, you have to go back to the beginning, to verse 30 of Matthew 19 and verse 16 of Matthew 20.  What he is speaking about, a parable is casting a truth alongside a picture, it’s taking a picture actually, and casting it alongside of a truth, to bring forth a truth.  The truth is this: But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.  So however you interpret it, that’s the meaning of the parable.  And he’s bringing a picture alongside it to help illuminate that truth.  And I believe the thrust of it, though, don’t get me wrong, there is a heart that just easily comes through here that’s very clear, and it is this element of the grace of God, his grace toward our lives and in our lives.  This is the 9th parable.  He’s already said things, he’s said “the kingdom of heaven is like,” he’s said that phrase nine times, this is the ninth time.  He said the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field,” he’s already told us that, “the kingdom of heaven is as a mustard seed”, “the kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal”, “the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field”, “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking a beautiful pearl”, “the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea”, “the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things old and new”, and “the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants”---all pictures that bring forth different truths about the kingdom of heaven.  Now he says “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard”, and he gives this story of a man who owns a vineyard, and at different times in the day he hires people to work in his vineyard.  And he pays them, and as you see in the parable, he pays them all the same.  Now, he goes out initially, early in the morning [i.e. 6am], and then he goes out it says, the 3rd hour [9am], and then he goes out the 6th hour and the 9th hour, and then he goes out on the 11th hour.  If you use a 12 hour day, 12 hour workday, it appears he goes out early in the morning, basically at sunrise, and then he goes out at 9am, and then he goes out at noon, and then he goes out at 3pm, and then lastly he goes out at 5pm, which would be the last part of the workday, the very end of the day, and he hires people at those times.  Now, it is interesting to note, that in Jesus’ day, when it came to the vineyard and the harvest of the grapes, generally in that part of the world it took place at the end of August and the beginning of September, right around that time of the year.  But the thing about that was, is right after that season of harvest, that short season, would be the rainy season.  Only challenge with the rainy season, was if the rain got on the vineyard, typically you’d want to get the harvest in while it was dry.  If it rained on those grapes, and you happened to store them, and they were moist, they would mold. So rain was a bad thing when it came to harvesting your grapes.  So, it was common, and its possible as he’s sharing what he is, that they can relate to just life, and he often would use a story from life to depict a truth.  And that is, if you owned a vineyard, or you’re the foreman for a vineyard, and let’s say you’ve got a crew that you’ve hired in the morning, and they’re working, and now it’s the middle of the day, and you look, and there are the storm clouds and you see the threat of rain, it would not be uncommon for you to go right back and hire some more guys, find some more guys that could work in your field, to quickly bring in that harvest before it rained.  So it seems that he’s using an ordinary farming  occurrence of life, to bring forth a truth. 

 

The early hires, those who appear more deserving

 

Now he says that initially, he goes out early in the morning, he finds some guys, and they make an agreement.  These guys need to get work, he says, ‘Listen, I’ll hire you in my vineyard, I’ll pay you a denarius.’  The King James has ‘a penny’, the idea there is a denarius was basically an average day’s wage, it was the wage for a day of a soldier.  He says ‘I’ll pay you a denarius’, and they go like ‘Great!’, they agree.  ‘Good deal, I’m getting a job, getting work for today’, which was important, especially, in many instances, those who were poor, if I wasn’t hired for the day, I couldn’t provide the means for my family for that day, we might go without eating that day.  So here you are, wanting to get hired, here comes a guy in the marketplace, and he says ‘I’ll take you, and you, and you’, and you’re excited at that point.  These guys are clearly excited to be hired, to have a days work, and to get paid a denarius.  It’s something they agreed to, no doubt about it.  Now these workers who are hired at the beginning of the day, in this parable, they serve as a picture in this parable, they serve the picture of those who would appear more deserving, they started early in the day, they worked for this guy all day long.  A little bit later, in verse 12, it says that they worked through the heat of the day, they worked through the difficult part of the day.  They put in a hard day’s work for this guy to get paid that denarius.  Also, I mean, let’s face it, if they worked all day, when it came to the harvest, when it came to the fruit of the work, a lot of it had to do with them.  They certainly had a significant influence in the greater portion of the harvest that came in that day, the most fruit from their work.  So they would appear, from the human standpoint, to be those who are more deserving.  Now, with them, people see different examples.  Of course, he says, “the kingdom of heaven is like”, the Church [Body of Christ], God’s people, “the kingdom of heaven is like this.”  So in their example, these folks who started earlier, people see in them examples of folks who maybe came to Christ early in life, that served the Lord throughout the years of their life.  Chuck Smith would be an example of that, a man who had a mom who really raised him in the Lord, and a  pastor father, and he came to Christ at a very young age, he went to seminary, got right out of seminary, he was an evangelist, and then he was a pastor, just serving God for many, many years.  Now he’s in his seventies or so. So he’s got fifty years under his belt serving the Lord.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm to read about how the Lord used him to start what I call the Calvary Chapel Revival within the Body of Christ.]  And so many would see these folks as an example, a picture of that.  Other’s see them representing the nation of Israel, the nation of Israel, they go way back, to the first covenant, starting early as far as part of the family of God, having that place of privilege, and yet enduring all that they would endure as the nation of Israel.  And of course, he’s speaking to Jews, there’s Jews all around him, and there’s the religious leaders.  They certainly, humanly, would think of themselves as those who are more deserving when it came to just favor from God and the work of God and the privileges of God.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html for an interesting commentary series going through the history of the House of Israel and the House of Judah.]  Well both groups, Israel, and then those who have maybe been saved from a young age, and served the Lord maybe for years, both certainly would be also examples of the grace of God.  The nation of Israel, they were the people of God because of the favor of God.  God chose Abraham, God brought them out of Egypt [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/exodus1.html].  God did the whole deal, they had the Law, they had the Covenant, because of the grace of God, God’s grace.  It wasn’t like they were anything special.  In fact, God said often, “you’re a stiffnecked people.”  [Just read that series on Kings & Chronicles to see that.]  But you are the nation of Israel, and you had that place and position because of the grace of God.  And it’s also true of somebody whose young in the Lord, that comes to Christ, I mean, they heard the Gospel, they had that grace of hearing the Gospel when they were young, and then giving their heart to the Lord.  A lot of us were never really confronted with the Gospel until later in life.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm  to see what the Gospel of salvation, or what some call the Gospel of Christ really is.]  And so they had that grace, and were able to serve the Lord throughout the years of their lives, it’s certainly a thing of the grace of God towards them, God working in their lives and God working through their lives in that way. 

 

Those who appear less-deserving

 

Verses 3-4, “And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’”  Now in verse 3, he says he goes out to the marketplace, and that’s the way it worked.  You know, this man goes out repeatedly to the marketplace.  That was the place where men would be gathered.  You know, you think of the Work-A-Days in our town in North County.  There are ancient writings, there is even this particular one from Persia, “We observed every morning, before the sun rose, that a numerous band of peasants were collected, with spades in their hands, wanting to be hired for the day to work in the surrounding fields.”  That’s an ancient quote from an ancient text in Persia, referring to the marketplace, these peasants out there with tools, just like the work-a-day programs  in our town.  The guys, they’ve got their cordless drills, it isn’t so much the spades anymore, the cordless drills, and they’ve got their skil-saws, just waiting, ‘Just hire me, I need a day’s work.’  So it’s kind of like that, this marketplace.  Well Jesus says the landowner goes there, goes a little later in the morning.  He’s gone there initially, evidently he’s hired this first group at a denarius, they’ve agreed.  Now he goes later in the morning and hires another group, at around 9am.  And they agree, and he says ‘I’m going to pay you whatever’s right.  That’s what I’ll give you.’  When he says ‘right’, basically, ‘whatever seems right to me, what’s fair, you’re going to be dealt with justly, whatever’s right.’  Verses 5-6, “Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.  And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing idle all day?’  They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’  He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’”  He then goes out on three more occasions.  He goes out at the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and then he goes out at the eleventh hour, 5pm, I mean, this is the end of the day.  There’s not a whole lot of time left.  There have been guys sweating, swatting off the bugs, and they are just exhausted and tired, and now comes this fresh crew, just showing up.  The heat of the day is past, it’s cooler, and there’s just a little bit left to do, and they come in and they work that last hour.  He also says to them, ‘Whatever’s right, that’s what I’m going to pay you too.’  They agree.  Of course when it comes to them he says initially, he says, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’  And they say, ‘Nobody’s hired us, man, we need work.’ He says, ‘Alright, I’ll put you to work in my vineyard, I need help.’  And so they go and they work that little bit.  Now, that last group, and inbetween the two groups, there’s variations of this, but the last group would be a representation of those who appear less deserving.  That’s the point, he’s actually giving some absurd contrasts to make a very simple point.  They would appear to us as being less deserving.  Of course, there’s been folks that have been sweating it out all day long, and this last group just shows up at the end, just kind of breezes through, they haven’t even had a chance to break a sweat.  You know what I mean?  Sure they’ve been part of the work-crew, but we’re not on the same standing here.  They would appear less deserving.  Now some see in them, again, the kingdom of God is like this, so some would see in them those who come into Christ later in life.  And of course if you look at the different times he hires people, you could say the different times of life, the 40s, the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s.  There are stories of people who have come to Christ, where they are on life-support, you know, they’ve been around a long, long time, and now the machine is keeping them alive.  And finally, you know, the spouse has been praying for him, there’s the pastor friend that says, listen George, you’ve got just a little bit of time, and they give their heart to the Lord, breaths before they die.  And you know, you’ve got the Chuck Smith’s, and then you’ve got the guy with the ventilator in his last breaths receiving the Lord.  They’re both saved, but different, different classes here, they are Christians of course, but different standards, I mean, there’s the big guys and the little guys, common, that’s clear.  So that’s the picture he’s contrasting, and he’s going to bring forth a point about his grace.  Some see that, and some of course see the Gentiles here represented, meaning, the Gentiles, less deserving.  At least the Jews would say so, they’ve been around forever, and they’ve gone through all that they’ve gone through, and here come the Gentiles.  Gentiles (to them) are but dogs anyway, in their eyes, to the Jews at the time.  They’d be less deserving.  And you know, you may be here too, and feeling less deserving.  And of course this parable is great if you feel that way, because the ultimate point that’s being brought out is it’s all about his grace.  It’s not about the more deserving or the less deserving, it’s about the grace of God and his love for us, and the work he wants to do in us and through our lives.  You know, you may be here and you may think of yourself as like that class, meaning, you haven’t yet given your heart to the Lord [asked Jesus Christ into your life], and you’ve lived a long life, maybe, and maybe you’re here and you’ve gone through, I mean, you have lived selfishly, you have done one foolish thing after another, you’ve lived carnally, and you may be thinking…[tape switchover, some text lost]…Or here you’re idle, maybe you’re a believer, and you’ve not yet really chosen to serve the Lord, you’ve been just plain old selfish as a believer, and you wrestle with that.  And Jesus is saying the same thing, ‘Why are you idle?  It’s about time to get to work.’  And you may be thinking, ‘Ah, I’ve been so selfish, I’ve wasted my life.’  And yet, if you look at what’s here, that’s not the case.  Quoting Charles Spurgeon, “Nearly seventy years of age, and yet unsaved, let us bestir ourselves, it is time that we went without delay to kill the weeds and prune the vines, and do something for our Lord in his vineyard. What but rich grace could lead him to take on the eleven o’clock lingerers.  Yet he invites them as earnestly as those who came in in the morning, and he will assuredly give them their reward.”  And it’s true.  You might be on the ventilator at 90 years of age, or you might be the 9-year-old in Sunday or Sabbath school, and he’s just as earnest, saying, “Come on, come work for me, man, come be part of the kingdom, come and get into the vineyard here, and watch what I’ll do in your life.” [to learn about one part of his vineyard that could use some laborers, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm.]  You know, you think of this latter case, the Bible of course has examples, you think of the thief, he’s a great example, the thief on the cross.  The guy is honestly dying in his execution, for the evil deed that he has done he is dying, and in the midst of his execution, it’d be like he’s on the electric chair, and the current was going, and then he turns to the Lord in the midst of that and says “Remember me when you get into your kingdom”, and Jesus says “I say today, you will be with me in paradise.”  I mean, that’s his example…so he would be an example of the 11th hour, last moment kind of deal. 

 

Everyone gets paid the same amount, it’s not related to what they did---His work in our lives, ministries, is a work of grace, we can’t take credit---This is also seen as a picture of Salvation, based on grace, not our works”

 

Verses 8-10, “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.’  And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more, and they likewise received each a denarius.”  Well, verse 8, ‘When evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call on all the laborers and let’s give them their wages.’’  Now, that would be according to the Law, as he’s sharing this parable, he’s also sharing what would be right.  The Law said clearly, I mean, you have folks working for you, that you should pay them before the sun goes down, Deuteronomy 24, verse 14, “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates.  Each day you shall give him his wages, and let not the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.”  So, the Law said, you’ve got these poor folks working for you, pay them at the end of the day, they need it.  They worked that day because they need the money to get some food.  And so the Law said “pay them.”  As a side-note, if you happen to be an employer here, and you have the means to pay your employees, sometimes in business we don’t have the means, let’s face it, things come our way and we can’t pay anybody, we can’t even pay bills, that can happen in business.  But if you’re an employer, and you have the means to cut corners and make sacrifices so your employees get paid, I’ll just use the opportunity to make a side-note, that is the right thing to do.  Clearly, even God had that in the Law for the nation of Israel.  Anyway, interesting, he calls them, and then beginning with the last to the first.  Again, our bookend, verse 30 (of Matthew 19), verse 16 (of Matthew 20), you know, “the many who are first shall be last, and the last first.”  Interesting, he set the order up.  Now they’ve worked. He takes the last ones, has them paid first, and then on down the line to the first, who worked first, all day, get paid last.  Clearly he’s setting up the order, because he’s seeking to draw out a point in this whole parable.  Now, not only does he pay them, the last from first, to the chagrin of certain ones for sure, he gives them all the same, gives them all the same amount of pay.  A guy who showed up at the very end, didn’t even break a sweat, he says, ‘Hey, here’s your pay, a denarius.’  Now if you’re one of the guys that started earlier in the morning, you’re probably thinking at that moment, ‘Hey, I guess we’re going to fare better, he’s giving them a denarius, I guess he’s got a little extra to let go around today.’  So then he gets to those who were hired a couple hours before and gives them a denarius.  And as it goes down, suddenly you’ve been there all day, and he hands you a denarius.  And of course, as you see in the parable, some folks aren’t too excited about that.  But notice, every one of them gets paid the same, and it’s not related at all to what they did.  It wasn’t related to the number of hours that you worked and how many grapes you picked and how well you did your work, they’re all paid the same, regardless, not based on their own merit.  It was solely based on his will, but also his generosity.  For the folks that started earlier, they were excited about the denarius, they were getting picked to begin with, they had work.  So he was being generous to them, and being good to them.  But for the folks who just showed up at the end, they were getting paid the same, he was also being generous, and it would seem he was being REAL generous with them.  But, everybody was being treated wonderfully and generously and graciously, but they’re all given the same.  So it was according to his will and to his generosity.  And then again with that, we’re reminded, of course as the Church, the point that Jesus is especially bringing forth here, and that is his work in my life and his work in your life, it’s based solely on his grace, and it’s based solely on his will.  When it comes to the kingdom of heaven, man, it is a thing of grace, it is a thing of the will of God.  When it comes to the kingdom of heaven, even the service, the work, the ministry that’s connected to it, it is by the grace of God, it is completely the grace and will of God.  The fact that I’m doing what I’m doing today, and you’re doing what you’re doing today in serving the Lord, it is by the grace of God.  I think of the Book of Revelation.  And you’ve noticed this, I’m sure, many of you, and I’ve thought about it, even taught on it.  But there in Revelation 4 and 5 is Jesus standing in the Throne Room, and you have the Elders, the 24 Elders, and to me, they represent the Church.  I’ve always understood them as the Church.  [Could be, could not be, we don’t know.]  And you remember that these elders take off their crowns and they cast them before the feet of Jesus when he’s there, it’s a beautiful moment of worship.  Well, I’ve always looked at that, it’s very interesting to me, because the crowns, as a believer, I’m going to be given crowns and rewards.  And so I’m going to be rewarded and blessed for my service to the Lord, and for my faith, and we see that.  There’s the parable of the talents, my faithfulness to the Lord.  And Jesus even said to Peter just a moment ago, verses 28 and 29 of chapter 19, ‘Hey, the sacrifices you’ve made for the kingdom, you’re going to be repaid.  You won’t regret it.’  So the Throne Room, and there’s the Elders, and so I see myself casting the crown before the Lord, but my very crown is something which, it’s only because of the grace of God that I have it.  Because I understand what I’ll be rewarded for is not my own fleshly works, it’s not my own fleshly doings, but it’s those things that I’ve done by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of him in me [cf. John 14 & 16], working.  It’s his grace, it’s faith in him, it’s really all through his grace.  So I look at my ministry that way.  Maybe you look at your ministry that way [or you should be].  And you know, that is so freeing, to look at it that way.  Oh, I try to stay there, because I start to lose it sometimes.  But if I walk through the doors of this place going, ‘This is because of his grace’, that takes the pressure off of me.  You know what I mean?  It’s just his grace, it’s his doing, it’s his work.  And but amazingly, I see myself on this Sea of Glass going, ‘Wow!’ throwing my crown at his feet, because that crown is all because of the grace of God.  The very thing that has value at that moment, I mean, for my life here on earth, that crown could represent that, is because of his grace, his work in me, saving me, giving me life, giving me spiritual gifts---1st Corinthians---and then empowering me by his Spirit to do the works that I do.  His grace, it’s his grace.  Well, we see here then that point, clearly, the thrust of it’s coming, it’s just the grace of God.  But the fact that they’re all paid the same, is often seen as a picture of the salvation that we receive, that we all are given, salvation.  The guy that got saved when he was young, and served God all his life, what does he get in the end?  Ultimately he gets salvation.  The elderly gal who gives her life to the Lord that last week of her life, she gets salvation.  And so when we enter into the kingdom of God, salvation is salvation, having eternal life in the kingdom of God is having eternal life in the kingdom of God, and I don’t believe that those who believed early on in their lives, they get a higher level, and for those who got in at the end, they’re just down there in the basement in the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God is the kingdom of God, it’s a pretty good deal.  And that’s the point, it’s the kingdom of heaven, they’re all paid a denarius, they all get the same.  And that’s true with eternal life, isn’t it?  [There may and probably will be various levels of reward that we get within the kingdom of heaven for our works, as the parable of the talents shows.  But the gift of eternal life, we all get, in that sense, we all receive that same “pay”, which is strictly by the grace of God, through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.  Also remember Peter and the other apostles have a bigger reward than we’ll be getting.  Each one of them is to be king over one of the 12 tribes of Israel, with King David as king over all of Israel (and Jesus as King of the entire Earth, cf. Zechariah 14:9).  “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God:  not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).]  I mean, nobody deserves to enter the kingdom of heaven, it’s a thing of grace.  And you know, for those who come in at the end, and barely squeak in there, I mean, there are real trophies in the kingdom of heaven, we’ll see the generosity of the Lord.  We’ll all be going, ‘Man, God, you’re so good that we’re even here.’  But yeah, those who just squeak in, they’ll be saying, ‘Oh man, praise the Lord, the glory of God, the grace of God.’…It’s all his grace, it’s based on his grace, it’s based on his will.  All my service, my life, my salvation, it’s all based on his grace.  And so the denarius, many people see it that way.  Now, I don’t say that the denarius for sure is salvation.  I think and believe it is, it’s a representation of that.  The main point is grace.  And the reason why I don’t say it 100 percent, is because of verse 30 [of Matthew 19] and verse 16 [of Matthew 20], the whole point is ‘many who are last will be first, and the first will be last.’   So everything is pointing ultimately to that, ultimately to that.  Now, I should note though, I do believe that denarius can certainly represent salvation, and so everyone’s given the same.  And that is a point the Scriptures make, throughout the Scripture, we are saved by grace through faith, not by works.  There’s nothing I can do to earn my salvation, it’s completely by grace through faith.  And so then doctrines, many people who will teach purgatory, or believe in purgatory, but you take the teaching of purgatory, and you put it here, and it just doesn’t fit.  It doesn’t fit into Ephesians chapter 2.  Purgatory doesn’t fit into the Bible at all, it goes against the teaching of the Bible, that suddenly some of us have to do a little bit more work later.  No, they are all paid the same, the guy who started early, the guy that started late, they’re all paid the same.  And salvation is an inheritance.  I was sharing with somebody between the services that, Ephesians chapters 1 through 3 is mind-blowing.  I mean, if you want to have a greater appreciation of the grace of God, and have that peace in your life, then go and meditate on the Book of Ephesians, maybe even memorize it.  Because Ephesians (1 through 3) Paul says, ‘Here’s what you already are as a Christian.’  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ephesians/Eph1-1-14.htm]  Chapters 1 through 3: Here’s what you’ve already got as a Christian, you have eternal life, you are seated in the heavenlies, you have the spiritual power, you have all this inheritance and all these wonderful blessings in your life.  That’s what you have as a Christian.  Boom!  Already settled.  Now, here’s some things, Ephesians chapter 4 to chapter 6, here’s some things you might want to consider doing as a believer, now that you have all those things, and that’s the Christian life.  I already have it, I already stand in the righteousness of Christ, I don’t have to try to be holy, I respond because of the grace, I love God with all my heart, and I live for the Lord.  Because I already stand in the righteousness of Christ, I already am seated in the heavenlies, which is mind-blowing.  [Comment:  And at this point, the understanding of grace can get a bit confusing, for we do have to try to be holy, but not under our own power, not under our own steam, so to speak.  For a whole section on what grace is and isn’t, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.]  So, the grace, it’s based solely on his grace, it’s based solely on his will. 

 

There’s no “less-deserving” and no “more-deserving,” There’s no place for envy in the kingdom of God

 

Verses 11-16, “And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 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.’  But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong.  Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Take what is yours and go your way.  I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?  Or is your eye evil because I am good?’  So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few are chosen.”  So then, with that, these guys, the point he’s bringing out here too, is the first folks who started earlier, verse 11, when they finally get their denarius, as you see, they complain, they’re upset.  That’s the human thing.  They’re like, ‘Hold on, here, this is not right.  This is not fair.  I worked ten hours, I got a denarius.  That works out to a tenth of a denarius an hour.  These guys worked one hour, they get a denarius, that’s a denarius an hour.  This is not fair.’  So they complain.  Well, Jesus says the landowner, of course representing him, answers and says, “Friend, I’m doing you no wrong, didn’t you not agree with me for a denarius?  You were pretty excited about it.  Take what is yours and go.  I wish to give this last man the same as you, that’s my prerogative, isn’t it right, lawful, I can give whatever I want.’  And then he says, ‘Or is your eye evil because I am good?’  And so there’s two other points we can make here.  One is, when it comes to the kingdom of heaven, there’s no place for feeling more or less deserving, there’s no place for it.  Sometimes it’s in the human heart, you know, I can feel, ‘Ah, boy I have just served the Lord so faithfully this week, and I have been such a man of prayer, and boy I’ve studied so hard, so at services, I just expect that man, when I teach the Word of God, I mean, God is going to be so pleased, that the power of God is going to show up.’  And then there are other weeks that, man, I’m more interested in watching college football, and I can barely study, I can barely think when I’m studying, I’m so not excited about that, and I’m thinking, ‘How are they going to be excited when I’m giving the sermon, if I’m not excited now?’ and I struggle through it, and I’m thinking ‘Oh man, am I in trouble.’  But the funny thing is, I often find, those weeks where I think I’m in trouble, people are lining up saying, ‘Man, that was the most powerful sermon I ever heard in my life, and boy, I ordered a hundred tapes’  [laughter].  And then I have other people, the weeks where I’m ready, thinking ‘God must be pleased’, and everybody like rushes out of the sanctuary [laughter].  It’s a funny thing, it’s a funny thing.  This most deserving, less deserving, God is teaching me all the time in my life, it’s by the grace of God, the grace of God.  ‘I am doing my Word, it is my grace, I saved you by grace, I’m using you by grace, it is my grace.’  And so you’re here thinking ‘I’m more deserving.’  Honestly that’s prideful, you’re not deserving of the favor of the Lord.  You haven’t done anything to be more deserving of the favor of the Lord.  It is because of his grace.  If you’re here feeling you’re less deserving of the favor of the Lord, that’s also prideful too, because you’re not less deserving, you’re not less deserving.  We’re all in it because of his grace, his incredible grace.  And when you know his grace, you walk in peace.  The other thing we note.  You know, the brother of the prodigal son, he kind of struggled with that deal, didn’t he too, with his brother?  The prodigal son goes off, spends the inheritance.  Jesus shared in the same parable, and it kind of brings in a similar truth, prodigal son, he’s out there with the pigs, realizes, ‘Man, I’ve lived a lousy life, I’m going to go back with my dad, maybe he’ll hire me as a servant.’  He gets back and dad throws a feast for his son, he’s so excited his son came back, he kills the fatted calf.  The brother, whose been serving with his dad faithfully all along, you know the story, he says, ‘Hold on, dad, that is not fair, it’s not fair that you do that.  I’ve been here with you just hanging out and being a good son, and he was out there living with harlots and you give him the feast?’, struggling with that same kind of thing.  [But in that parable, the dad says to the faithful son, ‘All that I have is yours’, i.e. the other son lost his inheritance, the monetary part of it, you still have all that I have, it’s yours.  So there is a difference in reward detected here in this parable of the prodigal son, where the faithful son does end up with more.]  Well, you remember the father said ‘Son, you’re always with me, and all that I have is yours.  It is right that we should make merry and be glad for your brother, for your brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’  The point being, if I understand this, it’s grace.  There’s no envy at that point, I just thank you for your grace in my life, God.  And if you’re just showing favor in a special way to my brother or sister, praise the Lord, that’s just beautiful, the grace of God.  You know what I’m saying?  With the grace of God, there’s no place for envy, that’s even what he’s saying in verse 15, there’s no place for feeling more than or less than deserving, neither is there any place for envy.  He says “For is you eye evil because I am good?”  The NIV translates that “Or are you envious because I’m generous?”  ‘And, ah, wait a minute, I am just being kind, and you’re having a problem with that?  I was fine with you, but I’m just being kind to somebody else?’  That’s envy, and that’s just an evil eye, there’s no place for that in the kingdom of God.  And when I know his grace, then that stuff just goes away.  Hey, you know it’s a beautiful thing, it’s a beautiful thing when we’re walking with the Lord, just amazed by what he’s doing in our lives.  When there’s another church in our town that we hear about, next year that’s suddenly busting at the seams, and zillions of people are coming to Christ, and they have this ten million dollar building project, and things are just going so great, and that we rejoice, praise the Lord, rather than, you know, the thoughts that we think at times like that, sometimes where we’re thinking ‘I know they’re doing something, they’re compromising over there, that’s, they’re clearly using carnal tactics, that’s what they’re doing, they’re manipulating, God is not in that place.’  I mean, we do that, rather than going ‘Praise God!  God is working.’  And the same thing goes for one to another.  You know, you’re looking for this opportunity, you’ve been serving God faithfully, you want that door to open, and you’ve prepared your life, and you’ve focused your life, and here comes Joe, who got saved just a little while ago…and suddenly he goes through the door, and you’re left there.  And now you’re thinking, going through those emotions.  But the grace of God, and I know his grace, ‘Well praise the Lord.  Gonna use Joe, that’s fine Lord, whatever you want to do in my life, I’m blown away that you’re even using me, Lord.’  It’s about his grace, and that’s certainly the heart of what he’s saying here.  Now, so the last will be first and the first will be last.  And I’ll be honest with you, that very statement is what makes this parable hard to me, is you put it all together, and how do you get back to “the first shall be last and the last will be first” and I think the point is…you know it’s interesting, as he’s saying what he’s saying Judas is standing in the crowd.  And here is Peter, you know, Peter’s given everything, and yet here’s Judas in the crowd.  Now Judas is a guy that they, we get from the Scripture, they thought a lot of.  When it came to who could be the betrayer, they were thinking, ‘It can’t be Judas, he is such a great guy, this guy is as godly as godly can be, and God must be so pleased with him.’  That’s the way they seem to view Judas.  But that isn’t the way God viewed Judas.  Jesus at one time in the Gospel of John said that Judas was a devil, from the very beginning.  I mean, he wasn’t even a child of God.  And so when he says ‘So the last will be first, and the first will be last’, there is that point, God’s perspective is not my perspective.  And so I just need to look to the Lord, and trust God, and rejoice in his work, and let him just, you know, in the end, you know there’s the point in 1st Corinthians that Paul makes, 1st Corinthians 4, verse 5, “Therefore judge nothing before its the time, until the Lord comes who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the heart.  Then each one’s praise will come from God.”  I think that settles it really well, that verse.  ‘Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, and he’ll bring it to light.’  And so it’s by his grace, it’s all about his grace, and it’s according to his will, and we just follow the Lord, and love the Lord, and let God do what he’s going to do.  When he says, “For many are called, but few are chosen”  we’re going to pick up with that in a couple chapters, chapter 22, verse 14.  Most would say there that he’s referring to, the invitation goes out to be in the vineyard, but there’s only those that are chosen, that accept the gift, that are chosen that come and work, in the vineyard, and I think that is a good way to interpret it, I agree with that interpretation. And we’ll pick up later with that.  Let’s close in prayer…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Matthew 20:1-16, given somewhere in New England.]      

 

Related links

 

Short-Term Missions:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm

 

Beware of the Health & Wealth Prosperity gospel.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation3-1-22.html

 

An example of a guy whose served a lifetime:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

 

History of Israel, in service to God longer than the Gentiles:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/exodus1.html

http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html

 

What is the Gospel?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm

 

Part of the Lord’s vineyard that could use some laborers:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm

 

The Grace of God in our lives:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/ephesians/Eph1-1-14.htm

 

Section on Law & Grace:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

 

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