Part Timers

A brief look at the parable of the vineyard workers, Mat. 20: 1-16.

Painting of the parable, by Jacob Willemszoon de Wet, mid 17th century.

When Jesus told the parable of the vineyard owner hiring workers, did he know he was drawing unexpected parallels with the modern world?

Each of the men the owner hired was paid one denarius for the day, no matter the time of day he was hired. This, of course, seemed unfair to the workers employed from early in the morning and had worked longer for the same pay as those hired later in the day.

The point of the parable isn’t just about fairness to the men hired, but also about the owner having the right to choose how he spent his money. He was not being hard on the employees who worked long hours. He was being generous to those who he employed later.

The parable is an allusion to God and the world, where everyone will be given the same riches of God’s grace, no matter when they come to Christ. It is also an illustration of another of Jesus’ teaching of the last being first. Although for some workers it looked unfair, it was not. Fairness need not be measured by comparison to another, but by what is contracted for.

God does not contract with us; we have a covenant, based on trust, with Him which He has never broken; we have, many times

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