The parable of the workers in the vineyard and the generous landowner, found only in Matthew, is addressed first to Jesus’s disciples. In the scene right before it, Peter laments, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” And shortly after it, the mother of two other disciples wants to make sure Jesus gives her sons their rightful reward for being early adopters.
The parable was also addressed to Matthew’s community, made up of Jewish Christians who weren’t all too happy that Gentiles were coming into the fold as well. Surely the landowner’s unconventional generosity is meant to say that all who serve the Gospel will be rewarded.Certainly, we are comforted by Jesus’s assurance that the last will be first and the first will be last. But is that all? Are we 21st-century disciples good to go? Click To Tweet
But what can this parable say to us today, who are all latecomers compared to the original twelve and those early Christian communities? Certainly, we are comforted by Jesus’s assurance that the last will be first and the first will be last. But is that all? Are we 21st-century disciples good to go?
“You have made them equal to us” is the complaint of the laborers hired first. The grumbling here is not about timing but of equal treatment for those we do not consider equal to us. And oh, how we grumble still today. How grateful we are that there is still time to seek the Lord and forsake the wicked’s ways.