For the kingdom of heaven is like a land owner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard, He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About 9 in the morning, he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them you also go work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right, so they went. He went out again about noon and about 3 in the afternoon and did the same thing.
About 5 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? Because no 1 has hired us, they answered. He said to them, you also go work in my vineyard. 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 onto the first.
The workers who were hired about 5 in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more, but each 1 of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the land owner These who are hired last worked only 1 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. But he answered 1 of them. Am I not being unfair to you friend?
Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the I want to give the 1 who has hired the last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money, or are you envious because I'm generous So the last will be first and the first will be last. Let's pray.
Let's pray together as we open up God's words now. Heavenly father, we, we do thank you. We do praise you for for this reason to come tonight, and that reason is because of the lord jesus Christ. We pray father god that, that right now you would be gracious to us, help us to pause. From whatever is is going on in our minds, as we may be, tempted to think ahead and plan ahead to the day tomorrow, and of what is in store for us.
Father god give us, give us the ability now to concentrate, to give you our minds, to give you our hearts, as we, as we come to hear from your word. So father be with us, we pray in Jesus' name. Oh, men. That's not fair. That's not fair.
If I say that's not fair, who comes to mind? I'm a primary school teacher. That's not fair. How about if I say it like this? That's not fair.
Who comes to mind? Children, perhaps, I'm 1 of 4 kids, siblings come to mind as well. That's not fair. If you're a parent, you've heard this, if you're a sibling, you've heard it or you've had it said about you. That's not fair.
In my house growing up, this was said. I know that this was said because looking back, there were 2 rules instituted by mum, and those rules were instituted because we kept saying that's not fair. So the first rule that was instituted, was because we would run to the car and the shotgun rules are whoever gets there first gets to ride shotgun with mum, gets the glory of controlling the radio and I would cry. That's not fair. He's obviously gonna win.
He's faster than me. He's older than me. That's not fair. So mum put on the fridge a roater for who could go in the front of the car. And still, well, it wasn't your month.
That's not fair. That's not fair. We also, we also had a biscuit rule. And, that rule was instituted because, the way biscuits were handled in the, in the household was, you'd ask, mum, mum, can I have another biscuit? Well, no, you wouldn't say another.
That's that's your first issue. Ma'am, can I have a biscuit? Ma'am, can I have a biscuit? Yes. Yes.
You can have a biscuit. Ma'am, can I have a biscuit? Have you had a yes. Fine. You can have a biscuit.
Mom can have a biscuit. No. You've you've had plenty. Hope that's no fear. Gariss had 5.
Gariss had 5 biscuits. What are you talking about? That's not. Fear and mom introduced the 4 biscuit roll. Very gracious.
The 4 biscuit roll There was some wiggle room within the 4 biscuit rule because you'd run home, you'd open the biscuit cupboard, open the biscuit tin, you take out 4 biscuits. Those rebiscuits, put them on the kitchen counter. Take out another biscuit in it goes and 1 biscuit into the pocket. And then the 4 biscuits smart enough to take a nibble out of the top 1 to account for what's in the mouth. That's not fair was said a lot at our house.
That's not fair. The wine that's not fair's children we we don't need to be taught this attitude. We learn it. We see the slice of cake that somebody else has and we don't have to be taught to say that's not fair. We can see it.
We approach the world around us with glasses of fairness. Is what he's got fear. I've got this much. It's what they've been given fear. We approach the world around us with with glasses of fairness.
That's not fear. And I think actually as adults, although we may not say it, although we may be may have taught ourselves to be slower to shout, that's not fair. We may still have that attitude residing within us. We look at someone's house, the career maybe we look at their well behaved kids. And nothing ever seems to go wrong for them.
Look at their health. And we think we think. We look through the glasses of fairness, and we think that's not fair. That's not fair. It may be internal, but there is often a little niggle of that's not fair.
Now this parable that we're looking at here tonight deals with with this attitude, it answers the question of how do we relate to the things around us and the people around us? Do we look at the world through glasses of fairness? Crying out in our hearts, that's not fair, or do we look at the world through glasses of grace? Glasses of grace or glasses of fairness to what's the parable about. This 1, if you look with me.
This 1, the parable is about what the kingdom of heaven is like. It is like a land owner who goes out to hire workers for his vineyard. To the parable. A land owner goes to the marketplace early, a roughly sort of 6 AM. Now, this would have been custom for for men to stand idle in the marketplace waiting for someone to come to hire them for for the day.
What we've got here is essentially a job fair, but the landowner needs somebody to come to work today. The first time he goes out would have been about 6 AM in the morning. The land owner goes, he finds a group and it's interesting because with this first group, He finds he agrees terms with them. Verse 2, he agreed to pay them a denarius A denarius is a day's wage. So he agrees to pay the first group a day's wage, a denarius So they agree.
Get the image of sort of them shaking hands and the land owner sort of says, you know, come and follow me and I'll take you the vineyard, and I'll I'll show you show you what the work is going to be today. And, it shows them where the equipment is, shows them where the aprons are to find and they start their work 6 AM. And the land owner goes off. It goes to find another group in the marketplace, goes back to the marketplace 9 AM this time. And this time, He he doesn't agree to pay them a denarius.
It's interesting. It's ever so slightly different this time. First 4, he agrees to pay whatever is right. And back they go. Back they go.
The second group now, the land owner having a similar conversation of I'll show you where the equipment is. I'll show you sort of the jobs that we're going to be doing today. You know, what size apron do with that sort of thing? And he takes them back to the vineyard. 6 AM, 9 the lander hookers off again.
12 noon this time. Not brave enough to say AM OPM. Nobody knows if 12 noon is AM OPM. It'll be arrogant. 12 noon.
Land owner goes back to the marketplace. Another 3 hours have gone by, has a third group. We're not told of any talk of payment here. We're not told he's gonna pay them whatever is right. We're not told he's gonna pay them in 10 areas.
He hires them. And then perhaps hoping they're going to get something for their work. And 3 hours later, 3 pm. It goes back. It gets a fourth group.
And finally, 1 last time that Landona goes back at 5 pm. Verse 6, 1 hour until the end of the day. 1 hour until closing time, and he hires whoever he can find. There's a little conversation this time, verse 7, Why have you done nothing all day? Because no 1 hired us.
Okay. Well, there's only 1 more hour until closing time, but Come with me and you can do some work on my vineyard. They walk back, see all the other groups, get their equipment ready, and they join in the work. For that hour. So 1 land owner, 5 groups of people, 6 0 am, 9 0 am, 12 noon, 3 0 pm, 5 0 pm.
All working in the vineyard and now 6 pm, closing time. This time, the land owner calls the foreman over and he says, to pay them. And if you notice in verse 8, he says, pay them their due starting with the last ones hired is a sort of hint hint nudge nudge there. Pay them they're due starting with the last ones hired. So starting with the fifth group, he has them line up.
Now let's not forget, let's not gloss over. They've worked at maximum an hour. At maximum an hour. They probably haven't quite worked for an hour. They with the the journey back to the the vineyard, the sort of explanation of what they're going to do for the remaining time that they've got, the showing of the equipment, they're finding the apron that all this one's dirty.
Can I have a new 1? They probably haven't worked a full hour. So this group, this fifth group probably aren't hoping for much. They certainly don't have a claim to the denarius. They don't have a claim to a day's wage.
But look, verse 9, look at them. A whole day's wage. You can imagine the shock, can't you? The surprise? How kind?
How generous they think that the the landowner has been here? They would have thought, oh, yeah, we we didn't deserve this. And the parable moves on. It doesn't doesn't talk anymore about the other 3 groups. And move straight to the first group, those who were there from 6 AM.
And we were told this time that they expected to receive more. So It's almost this picture of the first groups. They see this fifth group. This fifth group come in as they're working. They see You come in at this time, and then they see the land owner call the foreman over, and they see them each get a shiny denarius, and they're thinking, oh, this is exciting.
There's some mathematicians in this group, They worked 1 hour. We worked 12. We're owed 12 times as more. 12 times as much. They're they're salivating aren't they?
They're already thinking about what they're gonna spend their money on. That's what that's what this first group is doing. That's that's where their heart is right now. We've worked for 12 hours from 6 AM until 6 PM. We've worked in the scorching heat If he's given them 1 denarius.
Oh, what do you think he's gonna give us? What do you think he's gonna give us? But look, look with me at verse 11. When they received it, the Denarius, they began to grumble against the landover. 1 denarius gives?
You gave the fifth group the same as they were here for an hour max. You gave them the same as us. They begin to grumble. They say in verse 12. They only worked 1 hour but they've been paid the same as us.
What gives? We've worked all day in the heat. That's not fair. That's not fair. And the land owner responds, doesn't he?
Responds with 3 questions. 3 questions to their claim of that's not fair, and we'll look at each of these 3 questions in turn. Verse 13 to 16, but he answered 1 of them. I am not being unfair to you. Friend, question 1.
Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give you the 1, I want to give the 1 who has hired the last the same as I gave you. It's question 2. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?
And question 3, or are you envious? Because I am generous. So the last will be first and the first will be last. So question 1, didn't you agree to work for a denarius. In other words here, I want to ever so slightly rephrase this question for the purposes of what I'm going to say next.
Didn't you agree to work for a denarius is what the land owner says? I want to rephrase it ever so slightly to, haven't I been true to my word to you. Haven't I been true to my word to you? See, the workers come back, don't they and they they think that the land owner is being unfair because he gives these wasters. Those who are there for an hour, he gives them the same as he gives to to to them.
The slackers get the same as those who've been there for 12 hours. And if we're honest, We stand back and we think, yeah, what gives? If my boss gave me the same for working a full year or a full day as she does to somebody who's worked for an hour, I'm not pleased to say to say the very least. That's not right. That's not fair.
They didn't get what they deserved. They they put in this amount They put in this amount and they get this doesn't seem to work. You know, when you go to a restaurant with friends, And, you're not massively hungry. Or, just a side of chips, please. Yeah, go on.
I'll have a ginger beer. T bone. You have the t bone? That looks nice. Just the chips for me.
Just the chips. Yeah. No. Food was food was lovely. Thank you.
If we could have the bill and the bill comes and, oh, t bone, what does he say? Should we split? Should we split the no. Absolutely not. Because that's not fair.
That's not fair. I I I put in this and I should get this. I'm only putting in 4 or 5 pound. I should get my chips because that's all I got. I put in this amount of work, this is what I should get.
That's what they're saying. That's not fair. And I think we can be like this in the kingdom. We can have, almost blessing police. Or we can be the blessing police ourselves, looking at what other people have.
And and that's the problem with that is We're concerned with what the other group has. We're concerned with what god has given to the other group. But the question here, the question that the land owner asks is haven't I been true to my word for you. The issue here I want you to think about is hasn't god been faithful to his words for you. Has god delivered on the promises that he has made to you?
Has he been true to his word for you? That's the point that's being made here in the first question. Did I not promise you a denarius? Did I not give to you what I promised? I gave exactly what I promised.
And god always always always gives exactly what he promises. Now, we may miss some of some of the detail here and some of us may still be caught up in still not still not quite fear. But the the biblical commentators here would within a range would say that a Roman soldier their annual salary would be roughly roughly 200 in areas. I say roughly because there's a bit of some people think around here, some people around here, but roughly 200 denarius for a Roman soldier. So Roman soldier wasn't necessarily earning a denarius a day earning about 200 a year.
So even a Roman soldier wasn't receiving a denarius per day. So this is a generous and kind wage This first group have totally lost sight of what has happened today. Because their eyes have become so used to wearing glasses of fairness. They've lost sight of the kindness that the land owner has shown them. The land owner has given them a whole denarius.
Don't look at what the other group has got. Look at what god has promised you. Look at what god has given to you And don't miss the other detail. How else has the land owner been generous to this group? He's been generous in calling them.
He's been generous in going to the marketplace. And in calling them into his vineyard. They've lost sight of the kindness. So the first question, is addressing the issue of has god been true to his word for you. So if you think of some of the things that god has promised you, If you look back on your life and the praise that you have prayed, hasn't god been true to his word for you, If I look back to my life and I see how how god is has sanctified me, how god has made me look more like Jesus If I look back to the time where I was a teenager or in uni, and the amount of time I used to waste the lazy boy that I was.
Oh, if I could be lazy now, it'd be lovely. But I've been made more like Jesus. God has been true to his word for me. He has given me my denarius. Hasn't god been true to his word for you?
And the second question, don't I have a right to do what I want with my own money. There's 14. There's 15. Sorry. Don't I have a right to do what I want with my own money.
So they were complaining about their rights. That's not fear. That's not fear. That's not fear. But the land owner sees this issue of rights a little bit differently.
He says in effect, you have a right to exactly what I promised you. That's your right. You have a right to exactly what I promised you. That's your right. So take your paycheck and go.
You have a right to it. But then he says, let's talk about another right. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Whether they arrive at 6 or 9 or 12 or 3 or 5, It's the kindness of the land owner to call you in, to hire you, to promise you, and to give you what he has promised. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?
You see, god's kingdom doesn't operate like we sometimes think it might. It's not a HMRC relationship. It's not a, if I put in this much I'll get a, a blessing rebate back. That's not how god's kingdom works. It's not I've been a pretty good dad recently.
I've been a pretty good follower, and I'd like to put an order in for a bit of a a bit of a bigger house, or a bit quieter children. That's what I'd like to put an order in for. That's not how god's kingdom works because god's grace owes nobody nothing, anything, whichever one's right there. Now, the point of this parable in Jesus' that I don't want to miss here was firstly about the tax collectors and the sinners because they were coming into the kingdom. And then second gentiles would come into the kingdom.
So, and in Isaiah 5, Isaiah 27, we've got the language of vineyard being used there, where the vineyard is being used as a metaphor for god's people. So the vineyard is a metaphor for god's people, and Jesus is speaking of a time when sinners and tax collectors and gentiles will come into the vineyard, will come in to be a part of god's people. And who there will be the 1 saying that's not fair. Who there are the ones who have been there since 6 am, who there who have been the ones who have faced to the scorching heat and the trials and the sun. The Jews who had been this in 6 in the morning.
They had the patriarchs and the laws and the traditions and they went through the exodus and the captivity. And all that they've done in the heat of the sun, and now some gentiles come in. And it's 5 PM. And they get a denarius too. They get the same thing that we get.
Hardly seems fair. We've been through all this. Hardly seems fair. Don't I have a right to do what I want with my own money? This is what the land owner says.
Don't I have a right to do what I want with my own money? That's what the land owner says. And the third question, final question, or are you envious because I am generous. The ESV puts it. Do you begrudge my generosity?
Do you begrudge my generosity? With this third question, the land owner seems to say let's get to the heart of the matter. This isn't about your labor or your denarius This is about your heart. You are upset because I'm generous. A literal translation of this could be, is your eye evil because I am good?
Are you the type of person? I wanted to think about this question. Are you the type of person who when faced with god's generosity, when faced with god's grace that he chooses to lavish on his people generously giving them the denarius. Are you the type of person that goes, thank you, lord, for your grace? Or are you the type of person who takes yours and goes?
I deserve more than him. I deserve far more than him? That's isn't fair. Are we looking at it with glasses of fairness or glasses of grace. This could be true as parents.
I'm not a parent. But, this could be true as parents. Perhaps you look at other sets of kids. And you think, gosh, that set of kids looks like a dream. They look, and they, they're quiet.
They never seem to stop reading And you go to the other parent and you say, fit brilliant. They never seem to stop reading. And they said, yeah, it's a problem, isn't it? Can't get them off the book? Or you see that Facebook status that comes in, and it says something along the lines of Oh, to be woken up to the sound of hymns being sung by your little ones.
Prone to jealousy, prone to looking at what god has given to other people. Looking around the the the world around us, we are always being tempted to jealousy. There's a perpetual temptation to jealousy around us. If you're on social media, if you're following blogs, if you have eyes to see the world around you, there is a perpetual temptation to jealousy. Perhaps you're thinking Well, that's fine and well, but the thing you don't understand, Little Welsh, is if I did have those things, if I did have that career, that house, if my health was fine, I wouldn't be prone to jealousy.
The reason you're saying that, Garrett is because you're a 27 year old man who's yet to get on the property ladder who complains about his hip and who's got all sorts of other things going on. Yeah. Perhaps if if I had everything sorted in life, if I was the 1 with the mansion, and I was the 1 with, the the biggest paycheck and all this. Perhaps it would carry more weight. Perhaps you'd think it would carry more weight, but The reason that is a terrible way of thinking and that is really poor theology is because that assumes that we get jealous and we want things because of what's up there.
That assumes I only want that house because it's out there. I only want that job because it's out there. And it doesn't assume that I want those things because of something wrong in here. There is always somebody with a bigger house, somebody who seems to have a better ministry or somebody who gets all the promotions some of these children never seem to stop reading. You know, if it's intelligence that you're after, there is going to be somebody who is better at the Pub quiz.
If it is golf that you are after, there is going to be somebody who can drive better than you can. Don't fool yourself into thinking that if you got into that position, then the envy would go away because it it is right through the human heart. Do you begrudge my generosity? Is your eye evil because I am good? 1 of the measures of Christian maturity that I am learning more and more and more.
Is that we root for 1 another. That is a measure of Christian maturity that we look to those around us and we see the denarius that god has given to them and we say, yes. Brother, yes. And we say to our youth tonight, you were brilliant. Amazing.
Amazing. You've encouraged me so much. And you have you have the youth tonight. You have been an encouragement to me. A real encouragement, a real blessing to me.
And I don't want to begrudge the father's generosity in giving you far more gifts of music than I have. Oh my goodness, if I was up there tonight, there would not be this many people left. I do not want to begrudge the father's generosity to others. That is 1 of the marks of Christian maturity is that we root for 1 another. I'm just so thankful for what the land owner has given to you.
I'm excited to see more of that. I'm excited to see more of the landowners generosity. I'm excited to see it. I'm excited to see it in my brothers and sisters, whether or not they've been here since 6 AM. 9 AM, 12 noon.
I'm excited to see how the, how the land owner will be generous to you. Or are you envious because I am generous? It's a big vineyard and the landowner needs a lot of workers. And may the lord bless as many as he chooses with as many gifts as he pleases. I'm talking here about people who are within the vineyard.
That's the context that this passage is set. Those who have been called by the land owner, those who have been shown immense generosity. We praise God for his generosity. We say, look at how you are growing brother, and we look through glasses of grace, As I as I may have my own struggles going on, I look through glasses of grace and I say, praise god for how he is working in your life. We praise god for what he is doing in the vineyard.
We praise god for what he is doing in the vineyard. Because it is not our vineyard. It is his vineyard. That is why we praise god for what he is doing in in the vineyard. And do you notice the kindness in this parable?
The land owner doesn't go to the marketplace at 6 AM and hire some workers and think, job done. Put my feet up. I've got some people. They'll work on the vineyard. It may take may take a few days, but I've got some people.
What does the land owner do? The land owner goes back, time, and time and time and time again. Back he goes. This is a big vineyard. And the land owner, and I really, really want you to get this, especially, especially if you're not used to going to church.
If you wouldn't call yourself a Christian, the land owner is a picture of god, the father, God of the father going back time and time and time again to call people into his vineyards to make a people for himself. That is what God the father is doing. And perhaps for you, perhaps you've been sat in that marketplace a fair few times and you've come to church a fair few times and you've heard the message a few a few times and you've heard the land owner come in. And you've said, I may see if there's a better offer that comes later in the day. Perhaps that's you.
And perhaps tonight, for the first time, you want to say, no, I want to go to the vineyard. I want to go with a land owner. I want to go with god, the father. I've heard his call, and I want to go. And if that is you, grab somebody that you know grab rory, grab myself and talk it through with them, pray it through with them because that's an important thing.
But if it's you and you're thinking, I'm going to wait until 5 PM. That's not the application of this passage. If that's you and you're you're not a Christian here, And you're thinking, I should go to the vineyard. I should follow God the father because of the kindness that he has shown. But I'm going to wait.
That's not the application. Of course, this is a parable, but we don't know when the eleventh hour will be. We don't know when our eleventh hour will be. So if that is you, please can I urge you to answer the father's call? And you see what Jesus says in verse 16, so the last will be first and the first will be last.
That's the point of the 3 questions It's not a riddle. It's not 1 of those. Okay. How can the last be first and the first last? Because if the last are first, then therefore they're lost and therefore they're first It's not a math equation.
It's nothing like that. It is simply saying the kingdom of heaven is not of this world. It doesn't work like this world works. It's not based off first come first served It's not based off of works, it's not based off of seniority. The king is not keeping track of who has worked the hardest to give the most to.
Now, if you want to be happy, If you want to be happy, you you should go through life thinking, I should be last. I should be dead last. But look at me. Look at me. I'm first.
I know full well that I should be last. Because of some of the things that I have done in my life. But I am first because the last shall be first, and I am first only because of Jesus Christ. Only because of what Jesus Christ has done in my life. That's why I'm first.
That's why I get the denarius. That's why I get god's blessing. If you want to be happy, you go through life thinking, I should be last. But look at me. Look at me because of what Jesus has done.
And if you want to make everyone around you miserable instead, have this big chip on your shoulder that says I should be first. I should be first. I don't get the respect that I deserve. Nobody knows me. People dishonor me.
Look at how hard I work, and I'll get the things that I deserve. But if we trust this gracious employer, who comes time and time and time again to the marketplace. Looking for workers for his vineyard, If we trust this gracious employer who gives everyone who knows him the same denarius at the end of life, Then we can trust him with the first place ribbon at the end of our days. We can be humble and confident people who are wonderfully unimpressed with ourselves. We can be a humble and confident people who are wonderfully unimpressed with ourselves.
Are not concerned with what we're owed or our status or our fair share. Because we've taken off our glasses of fairness. God is generous and good, and he sovereignly dispenses his blessings as he sees fit. And so family, brothers and sisters here, let's do ourselves a favor and everyone else a favor and take off the fairness glasses and put on the gospel glasses of grace. For the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
We praise the land owner, our glorious god, for his glorious grace. We need to give it a couple of moments for us to spend a couple of moments quietly ourselves thinking some of these things through. And then Rory will will draw us together then.