Matthew 20:1-16

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.' When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 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 20:1-16

With this parable Jesus gives us a picture of the last day – when it’s quitting time for everyone he has called to be his believers. They will rest from their labor of service to the Lord. Some people he calls to faith early in life, even as infants through baptism, and they work their whole life long to help spread the gospel for more people to come into the kingdom of God. Others are called to faith later in life and they join the spiritual workforce. And there are some who are called to faith very late in their lifetime; they have just a little time to work for the Lord.

On Judgment Day all those who were called to faith in Jesus as their Savior, no matter how long they labored for him on earth, will receive the same reward. Each will be given the gift of eternal life in heaven. The important point that Jesus wants to impress upon us is that heaven is not WAGES or payment we receive for our labor as his believers. Heaven is a GIFT of God’s grace to all those who are called to faith in Jesus. Jesus’ parable emphasizes the Scriptural truth that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God—NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Our labor for the Lord is properly motivated by his love for us by which he called us to be members of his kingdom and by his rich generosity to give us the gift of heaven. When we set our hearts on his generous love, there’s no place for jealousy or envy of other Christians who seem to have it better. By faith in Jesus, we are all going to receive the SAME REWARD of heaven – a gift of God’s great grace. Praise the Lord!