Proper 20 (2023)

Tell Us a Story -- Pentecost  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  22:03
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GOSPEL Matthew 20:1-16 Sermon Notes/Introduction
The goal of the sermon is that we will be happy that God is so generous to all.
The problem is that we sometimes live more under Law than under grace and do our share of pharisaic grumbling about others receiving more than we.
The means to the goal is God's amazing and undeserved generosity to us all.
The wage question can be troublesome. Strikes and marathon negotiations are part of the economic picture the world in which we live. In fact, the United Auto Workers are striking today.
In today’s gospel reading it is natural to sympathize with the workers hired first. It seems only fair that they should have received more than the last workers. But that is precisely the point Jesus is making. God operates differently from labor and management. God is so generous that we have difficulty accepting it.
When Jesus first spoke this parable, the grumbling of the first workers was a reference to the grumbling of the scribes and Pharisees over the graciousness of Christ toward the tax collectors and sinners. The Jew were jealous that others had been treated generously. These others (tax collectors and sinners), who were considered last, were nevertheless the first to receive God's gracious offer, while those considered first (Pharisees and scribes) were the last to receive it, if they received it at all (Matt. 20:16).
In reality, God is not fair; rather, he is inconceivably gracious. One-hour workers receive the same as those who bore the heat of the day. This parable carries both warning and promise for us—a warning that all comparisons based on merit or work do not belong in God's kingdom and a promise that our relationship with God is based solely on grace, which he lavishes in abundance.
The story only offends our sense of fairness when we compare ourselves to other workers. Even though they were promised 12 thrones, Jesus wouldn't allow his disciples to make comparisons. How much less would he let us make such comparisons when our work in His kingdom is so late and light? When we keep our eyes where they belong—fixed on God—then we have a correct view of our worth and labor. Then, when God rewards us on the Last Day, we can marvel that the Lord isn't fair — thanks be to God! He doesn't give us what we deserve; no, he gives us what we don't.
The point of today’s gospel reading:
Be happy that God is gracious to all. Why? Because Wages are Based on Grace and because Wages are Uniformly High.

Wages are Based on Grace.

God's pay scale contradicts our notion of rewards.
The Jewish leaders grumbled about Christ's gracious offer to sinners (Matt. 20:11-12).
Even Peter thought he and the other disciples should receive more than those who had not left their homes and jobs (Matt. 19:27).
We too get jealous when God seems to be blessing others more than us.
Yet God deals fairly with us.
No injustice has been done, for we have received the agreed wage (Matt. 20:13-14).
God never promised to give us what we think we deserve for our efforts.
And thank God that He doesn’t pay us what we deserve.
The truth of the matter is that we have not been 100% faithful. We have taken advantage of God’s goodness. We let opportunities to share the gospel slip by. And, we continually sin in our thoughts, words, and actions.
Our grumbling also reveals our loveless and unmerciful attitude and shows that we are under the Law instead of under grace more than we perhaps realize.
In other words, we think our time and effort should merit some bonus in God’s Kingdom. We’ve done more so we should get more.
I’ve been a faithful Christian all these years, compared to these new people and this is what I get?
Nevertheless, God is more than fair. In fact, those who become Christians last and enter into God’s vineyard will receive the same blessings as those who have been walking with Christ for years.

Wages are Uniformly High.

God is generous to all (Matt. 20:15).
God is a real equal-opportunity employer.
Whatever we give up we receive back a hundredfold, and finally we receive eternal life (Matt. 19:29).
Isn't it wonderful that even those of us who have only been a Christian for one hour also receive blessing as those who have been for years?
Being a Christian and our sins forgiven is itself is already a reward.
Just to be a Christian is a privilege — not a wearisome duty but a happy service, no matter how long God lets us serve.
There is no richer, fuller life than that of a disciple of Christ.
The wage question in the kingdom of God need not trouble us, for in the kingdom there is no unemployment, and the wage level is uniformly high.
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