Parables of Jesus: Vineyard Workers

Matthew 20:1-16

A man was driving along the highway, and saw a rabbit hopping
across the middle of the road. He swerved to avoid hitting the rabbit,
but unfortunately the rabbit jumped in front of the car and was hit.
The driver, being a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulled
over to the side of the road, and got out to see what had become of
the rabbit.

Much to his dismay, the rabbit was dead. The driver felt so awful, he
began to cry. A woman driving down the highway saw the man
crying on the side of the road and pulled over. She stepped out of
her car and asked the man what was wrong.
“I feel terrible,” he explained, “I accidentally hit this rabbit and killed

The woman told the man not to worry. She knew what to do. She
went to her car trunk, and pulled out a spray can. She walked over
to the limp, dead rabbit, and sprayed the contents of the can onto
the rabbit.
Miraculously the rabbit came to life, jumped up, waved it’s paw at
the two humans and hopped down the road. 50 meters away the
rabbit stopped, turned around, waved and hopped down the road,
another 50 meters, turned, waved and hopped another 50 meters.
The man was astonished. He couldn’t figure out what substance
could be in the woman’s spray can!!

He ran over to the woman and demanded, “What is in your spray
can? What did you spray on that rabbit?”

The woman turned the can around so that the man could read the
label. It said: “Hair spray. Restores life to dead hair. Adds
permanent wave.”

Today we are going to look at another parable of Jesus
The parable of the vineyard workers
This one is found in Matthew 20:1-16

This is another parable about the kingdom of God.
We have seen several of these so far in our exploration of
the parables.

The first thing we notice as we read the parable is that
there are two groups of workers.

The first group of workers the landowner agreed upon
the wage for the days work ahead of time. It was clear
and defined and fair for the amount of work and the time

They started work at the beginning of the day, around 6
am and they would work for 12 hours until 6pm.
The second group of workers are the ones that are hired
throughout the rest of the day.

We see the land owner needed more workers so he went
back to the town square to find more day laborers. This
was the spot that workers would congregate to signify
that they were ready for work.

When the land owner went back at 9 am he found some
more workers and told them he would give them
‘whatever is right’ They were certain they would get a fair wage for the hours they worked, even though they weren’t going to work for 12 hours.

Again at noon he found more workers and again at
3 pm more workers. Each were told they would get
‘whatever was right’

But then near the end of the day, the work was still not
completed the landowner goes out one final time to find a
few more workers to finish the work. They agree to
come help for ‘whatever is right.’

This second group had no idea what they would be paid.
They knew that a denarius was the standard pay for
working a 12 hour shift. But they hadn’t done that. They
had worked only a fraction of the day. Some only worked
1 hours. They would likely just get a tiny amount.

At the end of the day the landowner does something out
of the ordinary, he tells the foreman to pay the workers
in reverse order. Pay the ones who started last first and
the ones that started first will get paid last.

Now, I didn’t mention it at the beginning, but did you
notice the last phrase of chapter 19 says, but many who
are first will be last; and the last, first.
It’s almost the same phrase that shows up in v. 16 so the
last shall be first, and the first last.

If the foreman had paid them in the order they came and
started working and paid them the same wage no one
would have been the wiser would they?
But God doesn’t always do things the way the world does

The guys who worked a 12 hour shift saw the guys who
worked 1 hr receive the same pay they had agreed upon
and they became upset.
They felt they had been cheated, but in reality they
received exactly what they worked for and had agreed

The problem was they saw the generosity of the land
owner and thought they would also be recipients of that

Now, let’s think again about the two groups of workers.

The first group received exactly what they were told they
were going to get for their work. This is the justice of
God. The kingdom of God is like this parable because
God always keeps His word and does what He says He
will do. And yet they grumbled because they was the
generosity of the owner and presumed that he would be
generous with them and give them more than they
agreed upon.

The second group, those who worked a partial day
received a full day’s pay. They experienced the
abundance of God’s grace. His wonderful, marvelous,
matchless grace.
Grace is when we get what we don’t deserve. And they
have just hit the grace jackpot. As Paul called it, grace
upon grace!

God’s Grace

Here’s what I want to make sure we don’t miss this

God’s grace is not divided based on when we receive it!
No matter when we receive it we get all of it.
Not a fraction of it or a percentage of it. We get all of
God’s grace!

That’s why the kingdom of heaven is like the landowner
who hired laborers to work in the field.
Everyone who works in the field (receives God’s grace
unto salvation) receives his wage.


Be Thankful for Your Salvation!

Your story is not the same as my story or anyone else’s
story. God called you into a relationship with Him at the
exact right time He wanted you.

Salvation is a gift and we should be thankful that God
provided it for us.
David understood this and wrote around half of the
Psalms in order to praise and thank God for his grace and
mercy. Spend some time this week reading and
meditating on the psalms of praise.

Be Not Envious of others Salvation

We must not be envious of those who were converted at
an earlier age or a later age then we were.
I used to wish that I had a testimony like Paul, being
saved in a dramatic way on the road to Damascus. I was
envious of God doing something incredible in the lives of
others and saving them out of a terrible life. But then I
realized that God knows exactly what He is doing and His
timing is always perfect. He wanted me to be saved at
the exact time He saved me. My testimony is unique to
me and God saved me just the same as He saved Paul. I
have nothing to be envious about.

Be Not Angry at God’s Mercy Towards Others

We must not be angry at God for saving someone who
we feel isn’t worthy, because at the end of the day, none of us are worthy of salvation. It’s only because of God’s
great love for His creation that we are able to be saved.

Are you thankful this morning that God loved us so
much that He sent His only Son to come and die on the
cross and be raised on the third day so that we can be
reconciled to Him?