Tag Archives: Matthew 20:15

More Than A Story: Obedience

[The Vineyard Workers: Matthew 20:1-16]

Isaiah 1:19 – “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.” [HCSB]

God uses EVERYONE obedient to Him – Peter asks “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME”?

“Then Peter chimed in, ‘We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?’ Jesus replied, ‘Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.’” – Matthew 19:27-30 [MSG]

“Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”- Matthew 20:15-16 [NIV]

1) This parable is not about salvation or eternal life

Salvation is not earned by works

Ephesians 2:8-9“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” [NASB]

Titus 3:5-6He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” [NLT]

2) This parable is not about rewards for service

God rewards differently

1 Corinthians 3:8 – “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.” [ESV]

LABORERS WHO BEGAN AT 6AM FAILED TO BE THANKFUL – SELF-SERVING ATTITUDE

We all will receive great rewards for following Jesus (see Revelation 22:12)

OBEDIENCE – act of obeying, words or actions denoting submission to authority, dutifulness

  • Obedience expresses faith in His wisdom and love. (Hebrew 11:6)
  • Obedience expresses hope in a future blessing. (Mark 10:29-30)
  • Obedience expresses love (John 14:15, 2 John 1:6)
  • Obedience glorifies God (Matthew 5:16)

Bible Study Questions:

1) In this parable, we read about a Landowner, Laborers, a work day, a Vineyard, and the end of the work day. What do you think these people/things represent?

Landowner –

Laborers –

Vineyard –

Day of work –

End of the work day –

2) Those who were hired last were unworthy of what they received. They were receiving a day’s wage despite working less than a day’s work. They were paid first. They were treated equally.

How does this resemble God’s grace?

What reminds us of our unworthiness?

3) Those who were hired first were paid last. It was their opinion that they were treated unfairly though they were paid an equal amount and given exactly what was agreed upon.

Why was it difficult for these workers to accept God’s grace towards others?

What made this an unfair transaction (from their vantage point)?

4) Before this parable, Peter asks what the disciples will gain for leaving everything behind. Jesus twice speaks of the Great Reversal. Those who are first will be last; those who are last will be first. It wasn’t about the difference of the reward. We should all be thankful.

How can we obey with an attitude of gratitude? What does this look like?

What should be our motivation of service?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

Angry Like Jonah

We all have moments when we are angry. Jonah got angry. He wasn’t angry because the boat ride was shaky. He wasn’t upset that he was swallowed by a fish. He was irritated by the fact that God showed compassion on Nineveh. Jonah was sent to tell the people of Nineveh to change their ways, and he ran at first, because he did not think they deserved the grace and mercy of God. It upset him that people who were so evil would be given the opportunity to repent and be forgiven.

We all are undeserving of the love, the grace, the mercy, the compassion that God shows for us. Jonah recognized that God was “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (4:2 NASB). Jonah saw all this good in God, and yet he did not immediately follow God’s instructions. Why?

There are often moments in life when we are not so easily supportive of God showing His grace and mercy on others. It is difficult for us to see people who have destroyed the lives of so many, and know that God has forgiven them. We believe our wrongs, our sins aren’t as bad as the sins of others. Why should someone who abused his wife and threw away his marriage and his children receive the same love from God as a “good Christian” who only lied a bit and missed a few church services? Why should someone who committed murder be shown the same love as someone who only took a tank full of gasoline from the local station?

These are tough questions that are sometimes difficult for us to accept and to keep ourselves from asking. We know the answer. Jonah knew the answer. God is gracious. He is compassionate. He is “abundant in lovingkindness.” But it made Jonah angry. Nineveh was filled with bad people. Why should they be forgiven for all they did simply by changing their ways and following God?

There should not be any question for us to ask except one. Why has God sent His one and only Son to be our Substitute and pay for our sins for we are unworthy? The answer, again, is that He is a compassionate, gracious God. He shows us grace– which is a gift– and we have no say on who He does and does not show His grace. Remember the parable of vineyard workers, where the workers who were there all day were paid the same as those who came to work late? “Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:14-15 NASB).

Jonah did not appreciate the generosity of God. God asked Jonah if he had a good reason to be angry. He didn’t. He actually told God that death was better than life. Jonah thought rather than see God show compassion on those he thought were undeserving, it would be better to be dead. That is a lot of anger to have simply because God was gracious to people. I wonder if there are times when we also get a bit upset at His graciousness, at His mercy.

I pray that if you are angry today, that you may take the time and steps needed to give it to God and let it go. I pray that you are able to “take what is yours” and move onward. God gives us the greatest gift of all. I pray that we never lose sight of that great gift, and that we continue to offer a heart of gratitude toward our loving, compassionate, gracious Father.

“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You… You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.”
– Psalm 86:5, 15 [NASB]

I recommend reading this wonderful article “What Do I Do If I’m Angry With God?” written by Alexandrea J. Wilson, founder and director of the Mt. Ephraim Center, for some great insight.