As I was studying for this Sunday sermon I came across an interesting insight that I had not seen before…and I would like to share it with you. It is found in Matthew 20:1-16. Jesus is telling a story, a parable of a land owner who goes out and hires workers; he negotiates a reasonable wage for some for the full day (6am to 6pm) you know those talented workers that everyone wants, then the land owner goes out after some second string workers at 9am, again at noon, then at 3pm, and even goes out takes in those last picked, the not so talented, even those workers that are a bit incompliant and even could be called an unworthy worker and put them to work at 5pm, just one hour before quitting time.
When it comes time to pay these workers, the land owner does something counter to the customs of the day and pays the last workers first, and the first workers last. However, the land owner does something even more shocking by paying the last workers what the first workers negotiated, and on down the line to even the worker who worked the whole day, they all go the same pay! I’m sure these first hired workers feel like we do, that doesn’t seem fair…but is it?!?
The first workers agreed on the wage and yet, is it not the right of this land owner to be generous and grace-giving however he wishes? Giving grace is to give unmerited favor, an undeserved gift. This land owner chose to give grace, even to all the workers by providing them a job.
Ok here is the interesting insight. As Jesus concludes the parable He says this…
Matthew 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last.
As I wrestled over this trying to figure who and what is last and first, none of it made sense until I saw this. The ‘last’ are those unworthy workers, incompetent, in desperate need of grace. Yes they are extended great generosity and grace and according to the parable they get the same reward as the first workers. Now the first workers are those very competent workers and what I believe Jesus is saying here is a warning to them, and to us who have been Christians awhile, that we are just as unworthy for we all are like the last workers.
It is so easy for us as we live our Christian life to think we deserve more or have earned more favor with God as we obey and align our life God’s way. But that is not true. We do not earn any more favor or love from God than anyone one else. First or last we all enjoy the reword of being children of God…that’s grace!
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:37-39 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
John 11:25-26 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
And I could go on and on all through the Bible of the great and amazing promises God, through His grace, has given us! But be careful, take the warning and know your own unworthiness/depravity and be thankful for the great grace God has given you!
Seeking to humbly recognize the great grace of God with you,
PS We will be speaking from this passage, Matthew 20:1-16 this Sunday and invite you to join us either in person or listen on line. To find out more information please see our website for details www.cypresschurch.net