“Short Stories by Jesus — The Laborers in the Vineyard”

On Aug. 5, Pastor Katy preaches on Matthew 20:1-8.

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

A landowner hires people to help in the vineyard, then a while later he hires more people, a couple hours later even more, and two more times he hires people that day. The parable opens that the kingdom of heaven is like this landowner, and we settle into a warm-fuzzy understanding of Jesus’ words. We grasp that God is going to pursue us, to gather us together, and God isn’t going to give up on us. Then, when we receive our rewards it won’t matter to God if we worked our entire lives for God, or came at the final call, we will all receive the same. Thinking of this parable as an allegory teaches us about God’s nature, but is that all it teaches us? What if we didn’t read this story as an allegory, what would it teach us then?