What is the parable of the workers in the vineyard?

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By BibleAsk Team


The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Mathew 20:1-16

Meaning of the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Jesus resembled the kingdom of heaven to a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the first set of workers a denarius a day. Then, he went again around the third hour, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours and hired more helpers. So, at the end of the day, he gave the wages to the laborers, beginning with the last to the first giving each a denarius.

So, the first laborers complained about their wages thinking they would get more. But the landowner answered them saying, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? … I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? … So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:1-16).

Jesus wanted to show that those who were hired first represent the Jews who had been first to accept the call of the Lord to work in His vineyard. But His invitation was later given to the gentiles who gladly accepted it. Jesus declared to the chief priests that publicans and harlots would enter the kingdom of heaven ahead of them (Matthew 21:31, 32). In fact, from all over the world the faithful would come to “sit down in the kingdom of God, while the religious leaders of Israel would themselves be “thrust out” (Luke 13:29, 28).

Jesus, here, made plain that divine acceptance is not earned, as the religious leaders of His time taught. If God were to deal with men merely on the grounds of justice, no one would qualify for the rewards of heaven and eternal life. It is not a matter of justice or injustice but of generosity from His side. It is not education, position, talent, amount of labor, or qualifications that count in the sight of Heaven, but the spirit of willingness and faithfulness in doing God’s will.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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