The Last Minute

Matthew 20:1-16:

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”


Many of us know what it’s like to wait to do something until the very last minute that the “thing” needs to be done. Right, wrong, or indifferent, if the thing gets done in time, then, hopefully, everyone affected is happy about it. But, for many of us who like to “get things done early”, “knock-out tasks quickly on our ‘to-do-lists’”, “arrive at least 5 – 10 minutes early”, etc., watching someone else wait until the last minute to do something can be exceptionally-painful; especially if it affects you directly (many Parents of teenagers really get this!). Well, it’s no different in the Gospel here. How “painful” it must have been for some of vineyard workers who worked many hours (up to a full-day’s work) to watch the workers who worked just one hour get a full-day’s wages! Is that really “fair” to those that worked longer? And, therein lies the “rub” on this one – when we don’t think it’s “fair”. Jesus is more focused on getting the “Thing” done, than being “fair”. If it takes Him our entire lives to capture our hearts for Him, then He will celebrate that by granting us Eternity with Him. It’s often very hard to watch someone sin their lives away in all kinds of ways, but their Salvation in Christ shouldn’t have a “time-stamp” on it. That’s not how Christ works. He wants Results and Souls reconciled to Him and He’ll take us any way He can get us. For most of us, our Salvation is not a story of a “full-day’s work”; meaning a lifetime of devotion to Jesus. No, for most of us, we won’t work for our entire lives for Jesus. And, many of us, will only work “1 hour”. Eternity is not based on a “full-day”, “1 hour”, or anything in-between. No. Eternity is based on accepting Jesus into our hearts at whatever point that is for each of us. So, the next time we’re not happy about another Sinner getting a “full-day’s wages” (Eternity) through being Saved, let’s be sure to remember that none of us deserves a “full-day’s wages” (Eternity) either. If we did, the Landowner (Jesus) wouldn’t have had to be crucified for our sins.

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