II Corinthians 8.9
I suppose many of the parables that Jesus taught revealing the kingdom of God are interpreted many ways, often without much insight into what the kingdom of God is really like. Too many times we walk away none the wiser for having heard them, read them or been taught them. This parable from Matthew 20 is one such story.
The parable is simply; A master`goes out to hire workers for his vineyard, he finds laborers who agree to work for a denarius for the days work. At nine in the morning he goes back to the market place and hires more men without agreeing on a price. This happens every three hours, until about five in the afternoon when he hires men for the last hour. When it comes time to pay, everyone gets a denarius. Of course there are complaints from those who have worked the whole twelve hour day, reasoning how unjust the master was, they should have been paid more. The master responds ,”Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or is your eye envious because I am good? Thus the last shall be first, and the first last.”
So we have the variety of views that argue for workers rights, that the apostles who were with Jesus from the beginning gain no more than the thief on the cross who repented, that the Hebrew nation is worth no more than the last gentile nation to be reached with the gospel, and on and on.
If in the context, this is a glimpse of the kingdom of God, I see a very different message here. The complaining workers want more, this is human nature, albeit a little unjust, they did agree to the wage. The master is willing to give a more generous amount to some. He chooses to be poorer while the workers want to be richer. It definitely is not fair, but then neither is grace.
The kingdom of God is grace, the master gives generously, salvation is offered to all, some come early in life, some come late, some have many gifts and work tirelessly, some have fewer and aren’t called to do much, but the underlying base to it all is II Cor. 8.9 ” For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
I prefer grace to justice every day, thank you Lord Jesus.