Matthew 20: Calvary in Sight (2)
Pray Psalm 23.6.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Sing Psalm 23.6.
(The Gift of Love: Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire)
Goodness and mercy, full and free, shall ever after follow me,
and in the house of God, my Lord, shall I abide forevermore!
Read Matthew 20.1-16; meditate on verses 8-16.
1. How did the owner of the vineyard describe his action?
2. Why were some of the workers upset?
A comment from C. S. Lewis can perhaps help us to put this strange parable into its proper perspective. In his essay, “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis wrote, “The promises of Scripture may very roughly be reduced to five heads. It is promised (1) that we shall be with Christ; (2) that we shall be like Him; (3) with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have “glory”; (4) that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and (5) that we shall have some sort of official position in the universe—ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God’s temple. ” There’s nothing new here for believers. These are things we look forward to with hope and joy.
But it’s what Lewis wrote next that helps us understand the owner’s action in paying his laborers: “The first question I ask about these promises is ‘Why any one of them except the first?’” When we realize the first and greatest promise of our salvation – to be with Christ without obstruction or interruption, in perfect peace and joy forever, why would we even care about the others?
There are good reasons, of course, and Lewis sketches them out. But his follow-up comment here is the point of Jesus’ parable. It doesn’t matter whether we come to faith in Jesus early or late. Or if our life in Jesus has been easy or hard, long or brief, fraught with trials or paved with ease. The reward for all who believe in Jesus, and who are faithful in the works He appoints to them, is the same: Jesus! What more could we ask than that? And who of us will begrudge anyone that same privilege and eternal joy? Only the most selfish of heart would wish to have others stand in line behind them when Jesus is handing out the reward of Himself.
We are called to be faithful and to focus on the promises of Jesus as the hope of our calling, that one day – and that right soon – He will bring us to Himself, give us Himself, and be with us Himself for all eternity; and we will rejoice and be glad in our good Master and Lord, without jealousy, without comparing ourselves with one another, and without wanting anything more than Him. The first will be last and the last will be first, which simply means that all will be one together in Christ. All who are chosen and called will respond to the assignment to work; and all those will share equally in the one great reward of Jesus.
What a day that will be!
1. Jesus promises that we will dwell with Him in His house forever. What makes that such a great promise?
2. But that promise is made to those who have heard His call to labor in His vineyard. Does that mean that salvation is gained by works?
3. The Owner of the vineyard has called each one of us to labor. What work does He have for you to do today?
What then can we say? In the kingdom of heaven there is no one who justifies himself or blames others in this way; perish the thought! That place is pure and free from envy and jealousy. For if the saints when they are here give their lives for sinners, how much more do they rejoice when they see them there enjoying rewards and consider their blessings to be their own. John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 64.3
Thank You, Lord, for saving me and sending me into Your vineyard. Help me today as I…
Pray Psalm 23.1-5.
Seek the Lord’s Presence for your journey today, and thank Him for the eternal Presence that awaits in glory.
Sing Psalm 23.1-5.
Psalm 23.1-5 (The Gift of Love: Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire)
Because the Lord my Shepherd is I shall not want, for I am His!
He makes me lie in pastures full; I rest in Him by waters still.
My soul He quickens and will bless; He leads in paths of righteousness.
Though I may walk through death’s dark vale, I shall not fear – He will not fail!
The Lord is ever by my side; His rod and staff with me abide.
A table rich for me He spreads; with oil my Lord anoints my head.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).