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Grapes and Grace

Kingdom Come, pt.2: Stories of the Kingdom  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Thank God he is just not fair.

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Introduction

Any parent knows these three words:
“It’s Not Fair!”
It’s the battle cry of every child from whatever age they begin talking until . . . well, does it ever really stop?
ILLUST - Kids complaining about fairness
Definition of fairness: Aristotle, who said that "equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally."
Whining about the fairness of ice cream scoops is a bit different than struggling with our perception of fairness as it pertains to how God blesses (or withholds blessing) from one believer as compared to another believer.
Ex, Thief on the Cross
Have you ever felt God was unfair?
‘I’ve served God faithfully all these years and look at what I’m going through. Look at him/her, they are not nearly as spiritual and look at how God is blessing them!’

Hear the Story

Unequal pay and equal grace

Matthew 19:30–20:16 ESV
But many who are first will be last, and the last first. “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. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 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?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 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.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 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.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Matt 19:30-

Understand the Story

One main point

The common grace of God is anything but common.
Thank God he is just not fair.
Unlike many other parables, this parable is not about those who are in the kingdom and those who are not. This parable is about equality within the kingdom.
Master of House’
vineyard
in the plains of Israel are planted the wheat and the hills are terraced for vineyards.
Generally, the master of the house would have hired servants to plant, prune, care for the vines throughout the year.
Sept - harvest time - also rainy season - rain can spoil the grapes so there is a short window for harvesting the grapes
The master would need more than his usual servants in order to be able to harvest the grapes in time.
‘early morning went out to hire laborers’
day laborers - not like bondservants - These laborers did not have a steady job instead they would gather in the marketplace each morning hoping someone will hire them for the day so they can, at the end of the day, buy food for them and their family.
day laborers - not like bondservants
early morning = 5 or 6 AM
Jewish day was 12 hours from sunrise to sunset with first hour being 6 AM, third hour being 9 AM, etc.
For some reason, these men did not have a steady job so they
‘agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day’
denarius = full day for soldiers
This was extremely generous for a day laborer
This was what they needed in order to be saved - to help their families
‘third hour. . . others standing idle’
third hour (9 AM)
These were men were likely victims not sluggards. ‘No one has hired us’ tends to indicate that they were available but passed over for whatever reason - least skilled, weakest, etc.
If no one hired them by the end of the day they would go home empty-handed and would not have any money to buy food for themselves or their family.
**If it is true that the men were not lazy, then the landowner chose them based on their willingness, not their ability.** (remember who the landowner represents)
‘whatever is right I will give you. . . sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.’
The master went back the marketplace at noon, and 3 PM, finding more workers who had not been hired. He gave them the same offer of paying them ‘whatever is right.’
‘eleventh hour he went out and found others standing’
about 5 PM - about an hour before quitting time.
they were likely not lazy
These were men were likely victims not sluggards. ‘No one has hired us’ tends to indicate that they were available but passed over for whatever reason - least skilled, weakest, etc.
If no one hired them by the end of the day they would go home empty-handed and would not have any money to buy food for themselves or their family.
**If it is true that the men were not lazy, then the landowner chose them based on their willingness, not their ability.** (remember who the landowner represents)
‘Evening came. . . owner of the vineyard said to foreman, “Call the laborers and pay them their wages.’
Leviticus 19:13 ESV
“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.
Deuteronomy 24:15 ESV
You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.
‘beginning with the last, up to the first.’
‘Those hired at eleventh hour . . . received a denarius.’
A denarius for a day laborer was generous to begin with. This was extremely generous - a full day’s wage for an hour’s work.
‘Those hired first. . . through they would receive more but each received a denarius.’
they grumbled
They were the ones who had struggled in the heat
‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong.’
The master was not being unjust. They had agreed on a denarius so they are getting what was agreed upon

Apply the Story

What were your reactions to the story?
How would you feel as the first-hired workers?
How would you feel as the last hired workers?
Second or third-hired workers?
I think if we are all honest we can sympathize with the first string of workers. They were out in the hot field the longest, they worked the hardest - the natural reaction is that they should receive the most pay. When that doesn’t happen, I feel their pain.
Technically, as the master of the house pointed out, there was no wrongdoing beyond extreme generosity.
(France)
‘Why then do we still feel that there is something wrong? Because we cannot detach ourselves from the ruling convention that rewards should be commensurate to the services rendered. When one man is “rewarded” far in excess of what has been earned while another receives only the bare sum agreed, we detect unfair discrimination. Any union leader worth their salt would protest at such employment practices. Anyone who took this parable as a practical basis for employment would soon be out of business.’
[Sifra ]
(remember context)
- Rich young ruler
Would not admit his sin
Would not submit to Jesus
He was unwilling - thinking he had the ability to DO something to make it into the kingdom.
Matthew 19:27–30 ESV
Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Matt
Following
There are three key characteristics that this story teaches us. The story poignantly reveals the absence of these characteristics in our lives:

Grace

Grace is what the story teaches.
(It’s all grace)
The fairness of God is oftentimes overrated while his justice is under-appreciated.
None of us deserve the kingdom. None of us have a rightful claim to God. We ALL deserve nothing more than eternal damnation.
Second thing is that salvation is EVERYTHING.
ffffffffffff Humility
(France)
‘The extraordinary behavior of this landowner in adding extra workers after he has already recruited all he needs in the early morning therefore probably indicates not that he could not calculate his labor needs in advance but that he was acting compassionately to alleviate the hardship of the unemployed. It is unlikely that he needed the extra workers, and his excessive payment of them speaks for itself. Commercially, the man is a fool. And God is as uncalculating as that.’
If God were truly fair, we would all be dead and on our way to hell.
Romans 6:23 ESV
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Fact is, God is NOT fair and that is a good thing.
Grace sets Christianity apart from other religions.
The central tenet of Christianity is that you are NOT able to do anything to warrant or deserve God’s favor, kindness, mercy.
Grace makes Christianity and the kingdom unfair.
Romans 6:23 ESV
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:8-9
(France)
‘The extraordinary behavior of this landowner in adding extra workers after he has already recruited all he needs in the early morning therefore probably indicates not that he could not calculate his labor needs in advance but that he was acting compassionately to alleviate the hardship of the unemployed. It is unlikely that he needed the extra workers, and his excessive payment of them speaks for itself. Commercially, the man is a fool. And God is as uncalculating as that.’
Did you also notice, the landowner keeps coming back? He is not satisfied with offering grace to only the first round of workers, or even the second.
**This story has less to do with the renumeration for employment practices and everything to do with the extravagant grace toward people who cannot save themselves. 
God is also just:
1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
How is it that God is just? Being just, God cannot simply let the offense go. That might sound kind, but it wouldn’t be just.
The offense must be paid for - and it was - through Jesus - his substitutionary death for us on the cross.
1
God is just not fair.
I think we can sympathise with these first hired workers because we:
misunderstand the transaction of salvation
misunderstand the extravagance of
misunderstand the satisfaction of our salvation
‘The extraordinary behavior of this landowner in adding extra workers after he has already recruited all he needs in the early morning therefore probably indicates not that he could not calculate his labor needs in advance but that he was acting compassionately to alleviate the hardship of the unemployed. It is unlikely that he needed the extra workers, and his excessive payment of them speaks for itself. Commercially, the man is a fool. And God is as uncalculating as that.’
First, I believe we have a misunderstanding about the richness of salvation. When we see Jesus face-to-face will be less concerned about what more we can get and so completely stunned at what he would give us That all comparisons fadeaway.
Second thing is that salvation is EVERYTHING. There is nothing more to offer. You receive God’s complete inheritance. God is not holding anything back for you to enjoy.

Humility

Humility

Humility is what the story creates in us.
It is interesting that those who had been judged by every landowner, every boss, every person who would enter the marketplace and see these men who did not have a steady job are now the ones judging others.

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.’

I’ve never heard of anyone complain that God has been TOO gracious toward them. We are ok with grace being lavished upon us, but sometimes we struggle when we see grace given to others WE deem less deserving.
These men are essentially saying ‘We are worth more than these other men because we have done more than these men.’
What they are forgetting is that the payment the master is giving the laborers is not based on the value of their work, it is based on their value as a person.
A denarius was more than a day laborer normally received for a day’s wages, and given the master’s offer and payment to other men who had been passed over, grace was always his motivation.
I’ve never heard of anyone complain that God has been TOO gracious toward them. We are ok with grace being lavished upon us, but sometimes we struggle when we see grace given to others WE deem less deserving.
The Master loves you not your work; he loves you because of you not because of your work.
Comparing ourselves to a holy God will help keep us from comparing others to ourselves as if we are God.
Remember who you are before God and you’ll rightly see others who are before you.

Focus

Focus is what the story calls us to do.
What would have happened if the master had the foreman reverse the order of payment - If those hired first had been paid first?
There would likely not have been any grumbling because the men would not have seen what the others had been paid.
The problem was, they were more concerned with what the master had paid the other workers than they were about how generous the master had been with them.
I believe this is what gets so many of us in trouble today - being more concerned with how God is dealing (or we think not dealing) with others instead of recognizing the grace with which he dealt with us.
John 21:20–22 ESV
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
John 21:20-
Our role as followers of Christ is to follow Christ. It is not to watch how others follow Christ.
If we lose focus, we lose faithfulness.

Conclusion

Thinking about your initial reactions to the story, which one of the three key truths did you lack the most? Which do you need to work on the most?
Some need to know the master chooses you in grace
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