The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is a difficult piece of scripture to deal with. Issues of fairness, justice and the value of a days work are all themes that emerge from this reading. However, at its core this is a teaching from Jesus about the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is once again instructing the disciples of what things will be like when the Kingdom of Heaven comes. While it might be helpful to read this parable as a social critique of economic disparity both now and in the time that Jesus dwelt among us, is it the central aim of this piece of scripture?
Certainly there is value in appealing to this aspect of the parable. Jesus often spoke of the least of these which is an image that this parable evokes especially with Jesus final words in verse 16, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” However, as is often the case with Jesus we need to look beyond the words that Jesus is saying and look at the words which remain unspoken.
Some questions to ponder as your prepare for worship this Sunday:
- Who do the various workers represent in society?
- Why does the landowner pay everyone the same wage?
- What does this parable tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven?
A prayer for Sunday:
Loving God, open my heart and mind to your word and your ways. Allow my eyes to see and my ears to hear the way in which you are at work in my life. This I ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Text: Matthew 20: 1-16