God's Great Grace - Part 1
September 6, 2021
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1).
With this verse Jesus introduces us to The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. It is a parable of God’s great grace. There is one simple truth to this parable, as there is one simple truth to every parable of Jesus, but there are many spiritual and practical lessons that can be learned from it. Every Christian should study this parable again and again to draw from it a more complete understanding of the grace of God and how it operates in the lives to those it is offered.
Before analyzing the parable, there are some matters we need to review. First, this parable is about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 20:1). It is a short story on how the Kingdom of God operates. Second, the parable focuses on God’s great grace. His grace is expressed in the statement Jesus made to the disciples in Matthew 19:30, But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Third, Jesus’ statement is a summary of His response to Peter’s statement and question (Matthew 19:27), See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have? Fourth, Peter’s question resulted from Jesus’ statement on the impossibility of a person acquiring salvation (Matthew 19:26), With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible, which was precipitated by the disciple’s question, Who, then, can be saved? (Matthew 19:25), which was the result of Jesus’ metaphor regarding the difficulty of a rich person entering the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24). All of this stemmed from Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man who came to Jesus asking, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16).
This review is vital in understanding The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. It illustrates (1) the arbitrariness of chapter and verse designations in the text, which break up the flow of the narrative, and (2) context, context, context. Without context the parable stands as an island in the stream. Know the context and the meaning and purpose of the parable becomes clear.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is about God’s great grace and how His grace operates in His Kingdom and to whom His Kingdom is offered. The rich young man wanted to enter the Kingdom. Jesus offered the Kingdom to him. The man went away grieving because he believed the price was too high for him to pay to have eternal life. Don’t forget that. The price is too high for any of us to pay. That’s why God paid the price for us by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross. And that’s His great grace through which His Kingdom operates.
“Father in heaven, there is so much about Your grace we do not understand because we do not take the time or put forth the effort to understand it. Teach us, through this parable, just how great Your grace truly is to those of us who have experienced it, so that we might appreciate it even more. To the praise and glory of Jesus Christ I ask, Amen.”