Matthew 20: A Kingdom of Rejects

"The Red Vineyard" by Vincent Van Gogh

Today I had one of those “I’ve never seen that line before” experiences.

Jesus tells the crowds the parable of the vineyard workers.  The vineyard owner goes out at the various times throughout the day hiring workers, but then pays all of them the same fair amount — one dinar, a day’s wage.  No one is shorted, mind you.  The owner is extravagantly generous with the workers who came late in the day, especially those who only worked one hour.  Fifty dollars to pick lettuce for a whole day in California’s Central Valley is half-decent if you are a migrant worker; fifty dollars for working an hour in the same fields is a celebration!  This is a wonderful parable of God’s grace, and a sober reminder that there have always been and still are hard-hearted people of God who don’t want anyone to get something they don’t deserve.

"The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard" by Rembrandt (I love the contrast between the come-lately pair in the right foreground laughing about their good fortune and the consternation on the look of the all-day workers grabbing hold of the landowner who seem to feel like they have been cheated)

It is verse 7 that I have never seen before.  The vineyard owner asked the last group of hired workers why they were still standing in the marketplace with nothing to do.  Their response:

“Because no one has hired us,” they replied. (20:7a)

These are the rejects.  The picked-over leftovers.  The pathetic lot who couldn’t get a job earlier.  And the vineyard owner utters the most wonderful words to them too:

“Well,” he said, “you too can go into the vineyard.” (20:7b)

The landowner’s vineyard — God’s kingdom — is a place even for the rejects.  Praise God!

What did you notice in this chapter?  

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14 thoughts on “Matthew 20: A Kingdom of Rejects

  1. @”What did you notice in this chapter?”

    “Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?”
    – Matthew 20:13

    “…are you envious because I am generous?”
    – Matthew 20:15

    I believe the first workers are those who were under the first covenant.
    They have an agreement with God and they are to keep it.

    I believe the last workers are those under the last covenant.
    they are those who receive as much as grace with little effort.

    This is in parallel with the parable of the prodigal son.

    The son who left the house, was reinstate as son as equally as before.
    The elder brother was mad at the prodigal son,
    because “He was working for everything in the house” while the prodigal
    son receive the generosity of the father when the father ordered “kill the fattened calf”

    always loving to read your post brother… keep on keeping on.

    – grace and peace

    • Thanks for the encouragement to keep pressing on!

      A question for you, because I am not one to make a big deal out of covenantal differences. So many times in Matthew these parables have been aimed at the Pharisees. We will see this again tomorrow. Would you group the Pharisees as those under the first covenant?

      Do you think those under the second covenant have less to do than those under the first covenant?

      • @”Would you group the Pharisees as those under the first covenant? ”
        ————————————————————–
        yes in this period. but they made the Law keepable, that is why
        they did not see the object the Law is pointing to

        @”Do you think those under the second covenant have less to do than
        those under the first covenant?
        ————————————————————–
        The First covenant has greater than 1(one) work.
        God and Man is busy working in the first

        “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work
        to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
        – John 5:17

        After the creation God rested
        After the fall of man, God went to work again
        God gave the exact specification to man as the one
        in heaven.
        so God and Man was working

        when the work was done, the Man said “It Is Finished”

        then God rested. made a way for all man to enter His rest

        The Second covenant work is ONLY 1(one).
        The work in the second covenant is “BELIEVE”

        – grace and peace

        • I should say, “BELIEVE” that the first covenant is fulfilled

        • Do Christians have to obey?

          • Genuine Believers have the faith. the faith produces true obedience.
            as in romans 1:5

            “Through him and for his name’s sake,
            we received grace and apostleship to
            call people from among all the Gentiles
            to the OBEDIENCE THAT COMES FROM FAITH”
            – Romans 1:5

            our obedience is not generic liek that of the world
            ours come from Faith

            – grace and peace

            • As I recall from your past comments, don’t you also believe that this faith is also a gift from God? Thus it is given to some and not others, right?

            • yes. I believe it is given by God.
              “have ye the Faith of God” – Mark 11:22

              as even Lazarus who was dead, who literary cannot hear, heard Jesus voice.

              I can only assume God gave all of us a measure of faith. we receive that faith by Hearing and Hearing the words of the Christ.

              even Faith was created by God. for a dead man spiritually and physically to conjure faith is impossible. so faith comes to them by hearing and hearing the word of Christ.

              interesting discussion 🙂

              – grace and peace

  2. I should say, “BELIEVE” that the first covenant is fulfilled

    • Yes, interesting!

      I struggle with this one a bit. Not what I believe. Not at all. I struggle with the best way to describe salvation, the best way to talk about it. I have a deep appreciation for the emphasis placed on grace and human need in a tradition like Calvinism, yet I also hold an extremely high view of freedom and human responsibility, such as you might find in a tradition like Arminianism. So I guess I would say a human most certainly can and must conjure up faith in response to the hearing of the word. And I have been struck very strongly this year as we have been reading along how much doing, acting, obeying, and works are emphasized as absolutely integral parts of true Christianity. So I don’t want to fall into cheap grace and easy believism but I also don’t want to make it seem like our works somehow earn something for us or somehow cause us to merit some portion of salvation. I am still struggling to find the best way to describe exactly HOW I believe it to be. My best attempt is my James 2 post.

      I appreciate the chance to hash this out a bit. I am sure we will return to this.

      • I see your point.

        I honestly don’t want to sound “some are predestined to be saved”

        and also dont want to sound “all are saved”

        keeping a balance between this two is a huge struggle.

        thanks for your replies

        – grace and peace

  3. Pingback: the symbolic language of God’s way of heavenly peace « the magic of language blog: partnering with reality – by JR Fibonacci

  4. Pingback: Problem with Inequality–Laborers in the Vineyard « The Good News

  5. “This is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”

    Lord, help me have this servant attitude today with the one who is a hostage to his anger and selfishness.

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