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8. The Equal Wages to All Laborers
(Matthew 20:1-16)
1“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.2Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.3And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,4and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went.5Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.6And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’7They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’8“So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’9And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.10But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.11And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner,12saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’13But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?14Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.15Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’16So the last will be first, and first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (Romans9:16,21)

This parable intends to show us the secret of the rewards and wages of the coming of the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus had said at the close of the foregoing chapter that “many that are first shall be last, and the last, first”. That truth, having in it a seeming contradiction, needed further explication.
There is no greater mystery than the rejection of the Jews and the calling in of the Gentiles. The apostles confess that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs. Nothing was more provoking to the Jews than this intimation. Now this seems to be the principle scope of this parable, to show that the Jews should be first called into the vineyard, and many of them would respond to the call. Eventually the gospel would be preached to the Gentiles, and they would receive it and be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with the Jews. The idea of gentiles sharing the same privileges is for the majority of the Jews found unthinkable and difficult to accept.
Christ declared His sufferings and death to His disciples. He confirmed to them, at the same time, that He was the Lord who would rise from the dead, and rule at His Second Coming. He would be seen visibly glorified by everyone, bringing the kingdom of His peace on earth, and renewing everything by the power of His love. This divine kingdom is dominated by supreme principles with respect to rewards and rights that are different from what is found in our world. In our world we receive our wages according to our labor, abilities, and time. But in heaven, everyone will receive the same if they get ready to come at God’s call to enter into the service of His kingdom. God’s call surpasses the reasoning of our minds, because our privilege is God’s grace and permission to serve Him in His holy purposes. Serving Him is our joy and reward. Our presence with Him is sufficient reward.
God is the greatest Householder, to whom we belong and whom we worship. As a Householder, He has a work to be accomplished and servants should do the work. God hires laborers not because He needs them, but He employs them out of compassion, saving them from idleness and poverty.
But the human mind finds injustice in the Lord’s arrangements. We may think that those who believed, ministered, suffered for Christ’s sake, prayed and fasted practicing great self-denial more than others should receive better payment and higher rank than others. Those who have sacrificed money, donated much, served the sick with toil, and testified of Jesus’ name amidst dangers, may think that their own names should be lifted up to the top of heaven. Yet Jesus changed these human calculations completely with respect to wages and reward. The idea of preference is not prevailing in heaven, for we are all sinners and unworthy of entering into God’s fellowship. The Lord’s calling into His service is but grace and privilege given to us on basis of redemption alone. No man is entitled to serve God. However Jesus justifies the criminals so that the Most Holy may be glorified through their repentance and clean conduct. Therefore we receive His grace as salvation and fellowship with God, our Father, without charge. He is our wages.
As usual, the day-laborers were called and paid in the evening. Evening time is the reckoning time. The account must be given up in the evening of our life, for after death comes judgment.
The Jews thought they had preference over the unclean Gentiles, for the Scriptures were proclaimed to them 1,350 years before Christ. They suffered because of their covenant with the Lord and expected special blessing, prosperity and honor among the nations. However they had experienced brutal colonization and contempt. As a result they hated Jesus when he invalidated their alleged preference and threatened them to be the last if they continued in their pride without repenting. It is true that there were some elect from among the Gentiles who entered the Lord’s ministry and dedicated their lives to the King of Kings, while the majority of the sons of Abraham are still disobedient and refusing to worship the Redeemer of the world.
Yet, we believers must not look down on any one of Abraham’s family, for our faith is not ours, but we obtain it every day as a grace in our spiritual struggle. He that thinks himself somebody, let him watch out that he may not fall. We do not build our hope on our good works, but on the grace of the cross only. We are all at best useless slaves who have not yet finished what we have to finish.

Heavenly Father, We bow down to You and dedicate our life to You, because Your son called us to serve in Your vineyard. We are not worthy of worshipping You. Thank You because You did not destroy us for our sins. We love You and beg You to guide us to a faithful service and to continuous toil. Help us to call many of our friends into the service of Your kingdom that they may participate in glorifying Your holy name.
What is the secret of Christ’s reward?