CAMPFIRE STORIES | Wk 1: “The Workers in the Vineyard”
Pastor Mike Overstreet | 08.30.2020
Message recordings available at: https://vimeo.com/element3
Ground Rules for the Parables:
- The parables are stories that create parallels between something understandable to Jesus’ audience & Jesus’ identity, mission, & the Kingdom of God.
- The parables’ primary purpose is to make us wrestle & ask questions – not give us clear answers. They never have one single, simple interpretation or lesson.
- The parables are universal & timeless in their truths, but highly contextual in their content.
- The parables are always meant to be provocative in a way that demands a response from their audience.
Matthew 20:1-12 (NIV)
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
Matthew 20:13-16 (NIV)
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
The first workers hired don’t resent the Landowner because he was being “unfair.” They resent being treated as equals with people they believe are less deserving than themselves & they lament the ability of their fellow workers to live.
THE LAYERS OF THE PARABLE
- THE LANDOWNER – God seeks us out where we are at & His love/care is not divisible because it’s poured out infinitely on everyone.
- THE LAST WORKERS HIRED – We do not determine whether someone is worthy of God’s love, care, or invitation. He has declared that His Kingdom is being generously, freely & equally given, which is His right.
- THE FIRST WORKERS HIRED – We often see our world through a lens of merity & scarcity, which produces jealousy, resentment, & greed.
THE CHALLENGE OF THE PARABLE
- It challenges us to realize that God’s Kingdom is concerned with what God declares is right, not what we think is fair. It’s about everyone getting enough, not us getting more.
- It challenges us to develop a mindset of abundance, not scarcity.
- It challenges us to adopt the new values of the Kingdom by recognizing & repenting from where our broken attitudes of “fairness” have cost our neighbor.
- It challenges us to change how we treat other people in the here & now through our Godlike generosity – especially those we want to see as “less deserving” than ourselves.