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I Love My Job

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God graciously invites us to work with Him, and rewards us because he loves us, not because of our fruitfulness. Were he to do otherwise, we would receive little, for we bring nothing of which He has need. He gives us, by contrast, exactly what we need fo reach day.

Notes & Transcripts

Prayer

Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

Why I am Called to Gary, IN

Dr. Harry Ironside told of a man who gave his testimony, telling how God had sought him and found him. How God had loved him, called him, saved him, delivered him, cleansed him, and healed him. It was a tremendous testimony to the glory of God.

After the meeting, one rather legalistic brother took him aside and said, “You know, I appreciate all that you said about what God did for you, but you didn’t mention anything about your part in it. Salvation is really part us and part God, and you should have mentioned something about your part.”

“Oh,” the man said, “I apologize. I’m sorry. I really should have mentioned that. My part was running away, and God’s part was running after me until he found me.”

Matthew 20:1–16 ESV
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Setting the Scene

Matthew 20:1 ESV
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
Matthew 19:16–17 ESV
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
Matt 20:1
To fully understand the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, you must go back, not in time, but in the text. The Parable begins with the word, “For,” or, in the Greek text that lies behind our ESV,
To fully understand the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, you must go back, not in time, but in the text. The Parable begins with the word, “For,” or, in the Greek text that lies behind our ESV,
“γάρ (Hom.+) conj. used to express cause, clarification, or inference.”
conj. used to express cause, clarification, or inference.”
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 189). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
“For” works similar to “because” in that it begins to explain something to us. In this case, the explanation lies in . Jesus had just finished blessing some children, while correcting His disciples for their overzealous efforts to guard His space. If you don’t know what that’s like, try approaching one of these megachurch superstar pastors, and watch how fast their so-called “armor-bearers” will interfere. But we’ll save that sermon for next time.
Anyway, this man comes up and asks Jesus an interesting question. The text tells us:
Matthew 19:16–17 ESV
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
Matthew 19:16 ESV
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
Now, this is not the first time that Jesus gets asked this kind of question. In , a scribe overhears a dispute about the Resurrection and marriage that some Sadducees try to get into with Jesus, and after Jesus puts them to shame, he tries to get in a round of Bible Trivial with the Lord of his own regarding “most important of all” the Commandments. Jesus shuts him down, and, Mark said, “after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.”
Now, this is not the first time that Jesus gets asked this kind of question.
In , a lawyer asks Jesus a question that is very similar to the man in , but in his case, Jesus turns the question back to the Lawyer, and acknowledges his answer, telling him to “do this, and you will live.” That leads us into the parable of the Good Samaritan, which we’ll get into on another day.
Back to our passage for today; Jesus answers the man, “If you would enter life, keep the Commandments.” I’m thinking that this guy is serious, because he keeps on going. He says to Jesus, “Which ones?” So Jesus gives him some to work with: “And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Ok. that might have stopped some of you dead in your tracks… You might not have wanted to push that envelope. This guy, though, he’s good - he’s one of those nice guys that always does the right thing, and he says so. Yet, he still feel that he’s not quite there yet. Something’s STILL out of place for him. “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” (). So Jesus puts it to him, right where no one else can see it, right in the sweet spot: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” ().
Matthew 19:22–26 ESV
When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
After that, everybody got humble, except one guy - Peter! How many of you all know somebody like Peter - I mean, beside yourself? (I’m just playing with you). Somebody that is pretty sure that they REALLY have it all together, somebody that, quiet as it is kept, KNOWS that God should be thanking him for accepting His offer of salvation, for joining the church, for helping out in God’s Mission.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). ().
Yes, that’s the background to this parable.
The reason why, “with God, all things are possible” when it comes to the saving of souls is because God watches over His Word to perform it () ().
Jeremiah 1:11–12 ESV
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
Isaiah 55:10–11 ESV
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
In this case, in describing the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus likens it, not to the laborers, but to the Master of the House (οἰκοδεσπότῃ). The point of view from which we understand this is not that of the workers, but of the Master. He goes out to hire workers for His vineyard to work for the day. He hires in the morning, about 6 am, then at 9 am, 12 noon, and 3 pm. Finally, at 5 pm, he goes out one last time, and finds that there are still men who are available, and after asking about their circumstances, hires them as well. The differences between each of these trips to the marketplace lies in the compensation. The first group agrees to go into the vineyard at the standard rate of a day’s wages. The second group is promised a fair, but unspecified wage. Finally, the third group goes into the vineyard with nothing more than a direction of “you all also go into the vineyard.”
When evening comes, the Master directs His steward to call the workers to receive their wages, “beginning from the last until the first.” Those who were hired an hour before the end of the work day receive, to their joy, a day’s wage (δηνάριον, ου, τό: a worker’s average daily wage). Those who agreed, back at the beginning of the day, for that same amount, assumed that they would get more, based upon their hours worked. They also received, to their shock, a day’s wages, and in response they grumble against the Master.
Is it all about justice? That seems to be the argument. Yet, the Master was nothing if not just. He paid the first workers exactly what he promised and they agreed to accept. The fact that other workers received the same reward for helping out is a function of the Master’s choice regarding what He does with what He owns. “Thus, the first shall be last and the last first” (this explains Jesus’ initial use of these words in response to Peter ()).
Dr. Luther used these words as well in his “Disputation for Clarifying the Power of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses” (1517). Beginning with Thesis 62, Luther wrote the following:
62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
63. But this treasure is deservedly the most hated, because it makes “the first last.”
64. In contrast, the treasure of indulgences is deservedly the most acceptable, because it makes “the last first.”
65. Therefore, the treasures of the gospel are nets with which they formerly fished for men of wealth.
66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the wealth of men.
Wengert, T. J. (2015). [The 95 Theses or] Disputation for Clarifying the Power of Indulgences. In H. J. Hillerbrand, K. I. Stjerna, & T. J. Wengert (Eds.), The Roots of Reform (Vol. 1, p. 42). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
In , God says something that we, perhaps, don’t take as seriously as we should.
Isaiah 55:8–9 ESV
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:10–11 ESV
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Thinking that the measure of life is the end of our noses, many take moral or justice positions based upon their feelings of fairness rather than upon God’s clear declarations in Scripture. While well-meaning, these positions usually do little to establish justice, and much to bring about confusion, because, as says,
Psalm 127:1 ESV
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
Don’t get me wrong, the Bible has something very clear to say about sin and righteousness. tells us:
Proverbs 14:34 ESV
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
We are instructed in the Small Catechism, concerning “The Fourth Commandment:
The Book of Concord The Fourth Commandment

[7] The Fourth [Commandment]

You are to honor your father and your mother.

[8] What is this? Answer:

We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

proclaims God’s Word regarding government. It says:
Romans 13:1–7 ESV
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Of course, all authority, whether parental, governmental, or vocational, is derived authority, and the ultimate authority belongs to God, as it is written in
Psalm 62:11 ESV
Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,
Further, instructs us:
Philippians 2:5–10 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
We cannot do justice on earth any other way but through Christ, we cannot be “good without God,” because He is the standard by which Good is defined and righteousness is revealed. The Cross is the place where, according to ,
Philippians 2:9–10 ESV
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Psalm 85:10 ESV
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Unlike us, Jesus lived out steadfast love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace, towards us and towards His Father for us. If your righteousness is not rooted by faith in Christ, it is filthy rags in God’s sight. It is a fraud and you are self-deceived, no matter how many others pat you on the back and declare your goodness among men. the world can keep its praise, just give me Jesus:
Philippians 3:8–14 ESV
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Keep your fame - give me Jesus, whose word gives me life!
Keep your wealth - give me Jesus, whose mercies are new every morning!
Keep your power - give me Jesus, who has all power in heaven and on earth!
Keep it all, if it only takes me to hell! Give me Christ alone, who is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day!
Give me Christ alone, who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I could ask or think.
Give me Christ alone, whose name is “the only name given under heaven whereby we must be saved!
That is what will revitalize Gary, IN, Orange CA, and Lake Forest, IL, and any other place where the children of men dwell - God’s Word to us, in these last days, the Word made flesh. His name is the name above every name. His hand is mighty to save. His blood washed away my sins. His Word is the Word of Life.
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