Sunday, January 31, 2010
Septuagesima: A Devotional Commentary
God is represented here by a man who owns a vineyard. At about 6am He goes to the place where the laborers gathered and agreed to pay them a standard day's wage--let's say $115. About 9am He realizes that He's going to need some more workers. So he finds some other men who haven't been hired by anyone else yet and agree to pay them "what is right" if they will come and work in His vineyard. He does the same thing at noon and 3pm. He comes back again at 5pm with one hour left in the workday and does the same thing. The quality of the workers must have been declining as the day went on. The master of the vineyard hired the guys that nobody wanted to hire and brings them in to work for one hour. Each group assumed that they would get paid a certain amount based on how much of the day they worked. Those who came in at 6am probably expected to get paid about $115. Those who came in at 9am expected to get paid about $87. Those who came in at noon expected to get paid about $57. Those who came in at 3pm expected to get paid $29. And those who came in at 5pm expected to get paid about $10. They may have even expected less--these guys had a hard time getting anyone to give them a job. They were probably lazy and slept in because they were hung over from the night before.
When the work day is over, the owner of the vineyard tells the manager to pay the workers. He pays them in reverse order of when they started working. So he calls the guys in who had only worked for one hour and pays them $115. Not only were they guys who started at 6am surprised, they started calculating how much they thought each group of people were going to get. If this guy is paying $115 an hour, they should get $1380. That's what any rational employer would do.
But instead he gives everyone $115 and the guys who started work first are ticked off. It's the amount that they agreed to but they had spent all day working in the hot sun and never dreamed that the owner would pay people who only worked an hour the same amount as them. The master tells them to take what is theirs and get off his property.
If you want what you deserve you will get it. If you want a god who is bookkeeper, that is the God who will meet you on the judgement day. If you want what is yours, if you want what you've got coming to you, you will receive it by suffering in hell in eternal separation from the gracious God who gives of His grace in a crazy way.
How often do we act like God is unfair in His dealings with people? It's easy to think that the kindly old lady down the street from you is going to heaven. But what about the murderers and prostitutes? Jesus came to die for real sinners. Jesus invites everyone to the party. The only way you get kicked out of the party is by trying to claim that you earned your way in and trying to get Jesus to kick out the riffraff.
Jesus gives us above and beyond anything we ever expect. He does not bestow His blessings based on our yearly review. It's all grace. It's all mercy. It's all love.
Posted by Chuck Wiese at 12:01 AM