The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard teaches us about how God rewards us when our time in this flesh age is done. Do you feel like you deserve to be rewarded much better than your fellow-servants in Christ? Well let’s see what Jesus had to say on the subject.
(Mat 20:1) 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.
This Householder is God/Christ and has been with this world (the vineyard) since the foundation of this age (and before). How has He chosen these particular laborers? He has chosen His workers very carefully based on their merits and shortcomings, and He knows how each will perform and serve Him based on what they did during satan’s rebellion before the foundation of this age.
So He goes to the marketplace at about dawn and chooses a group laborers that will be in His vineyard from the beginning.
(Mat 20:2) And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
The Householder is choosing those who will serve Him first in this vineyard. These laborers will work for Him this entire day and they have agreed that they will do so for a penny. This penny is our reward for making a choice to serve Him. And when we are His servants, our labors for Him will show our dedication to Him. The reward we receive for our dedication is eternal life.
(Mat 20:3) And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
It’s now about 9am and the Householder needs more workers and goes back to the marketplace to choose who else will serve Him. He finds some workers standing around waiting to be hired on themselves to earn some wages. They are standing around because they have yet to be chosen, so they really have no idea what to do. They haven’t yet received any guidance, but they are ready and willing to work if they are called.
(Mat 20:4) And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
These workers agree to be paid a wage that the Householder determines to be fair for the work they have done, and they go into the field to do what the Householder would have them to do. Notice they didn’t actually agree on a particular wage. They trusted the Householder enough not to even question Him. Did they even understand what their reward was to be?
(Mat 20:5) Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
He goes back to the marketplace at about noon and 3, and again hires more workers for His vineyard.
(Mat 20:6) 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?
This question is rhetorical. Now, it’s getting close to sundown, about 5pm, the Householder goes back to the marketplace one last time to choose who will serve Him in His vineyard for the final hour, that Hour of Temptation, or Tribulation. There He encounters some men who have been standing Idle and waiting to be hired all the day. The Householder has actually been saving them specifically for this last hour.
(Mat 19:30) But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
The word ‘first’ here is protos in the Greek. It means, not only first, but ‘chief’ or ‘best’. These particular workers were predestinated from before the foundation of this age to serve in this last crew. They were chosen first, because they were the best, to serve last, during the last generation, specifically in the tribulation.
(Mat 20:7) 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.
The Householder knows why they haven’t been hired yet and purposely hasn’t selected them until this time. However, they don’t really understand His true plan or methodology, but they don’t question it either. They agree to work for compensation that He decides to be proper and fair.
(Mat 20:8) 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.
Now we arrive at sundown, about 6pm and Householder calls all His employees in to receive their payments. This is the Householder and He is the Boss of His workers, so He’s able to pay His laborers in whatever fashion He chooses. So He decides to pay the last group of workers He hired first and work backward to the ones who began working in the vineyard earliest.
(Mat 20:9) And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
When He came to reward the workers of the first group, which He hired last, He gave them the same reward as what the earliest workers had agreed to. Is this fair?
(Mat 20:10) But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
Likewise, the Householder paid the three subsequent groups the same wage, and when He came to the group He had hired first, He also gave them each that same penny’s wage. Now is this fair? You better believe it. He is paying each group according to their prior arrangements.
(Mat 20:11) And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
That earliest group of workers begins to whine and complain that it’s not fair because they had been working in the vineyard the longest, yet they believed it to be fair when they were first hired.
(Mat 20:12) 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.
The earliest group believed, though they had agreed to earn a penny for their day’s work, that they should receive more than at least the last group that was hired on.
(Mat 20:13) But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
The Householder, however, tries talking sense into this murmuring bunch. He’s giving them exactly what they had agreed to be paid for their services.
(Mat 20:14) Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
He tells them to take their earnings and be happy with what they have received.
(Mat 20:15) Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Who can tell Him what to do with His own money, or anything else that is His? These earliest workers were jealous that the latest workers seemingly were paid much more than what they should have earned, but the Householder didn’t cheat them because when they were hired they believed this penny to be a fair wage.
(Mat 20:16) So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
There is a plan behind everything God does. He chooses each person fairly based on what He knows he can handle and what he deserves. During the rebellion of satan against God, some people made an immediate stand for God and against satan. Some men took a little bit longer to decide to act. Many didn’t do much of anything because they were on the fence, and were basically lukewarm about the whole thing. And then there were those who followed satan.
Regardless of when you begin to serve or how much you do, you will receive the same reward from God. God will make sure you are well compensated, but you need to make sure that you first accept Christ, and then dedicate your life to being a servant to Him. Don’t worry about how much others have done to serve Him, everyone will be justly rewarded.
(1Co 7:22) For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.