1. This is one of the most meaningful parables in Scripture, yet meaning is sometimes missed. Christ was continuing His discussion of salvation and eternal life. What He now wished to was show the marvelous grace of God in salvation in giving eternal life.
· God’s grace provides work for man – a field to tend
· God’s grace seeks and calls men to work
· God’s grace pays the promised wages at the appointed time, at the end of the day
· God’s justice will reign in paying what He has promised.
2. An employer who asks workers to join his working force meets all kinds of responses.
There are the willing and eager workers. These are always out early, needing and looking for work.
· There are those whom Christ calls idle. They have little if any interest in work at all.
· There are the self-seeking or pleasure workers. These move around, questioning each employer about what kind of work is to be done.
· There are slothful workers. These are just lazy, not interested in a full-day’s work.
· There are the complacent workers, the slow-movers, they sleep late, move slow and are always late in getting to the workplace.
The promise of wage is promised not an amount. The Lord merely said, “I will pay you whatever is right.” A late-comer, the person who does not respond to God until later in life, must simply trust God to be fair and just.
3. There is nothing more tragic in this world than men and women who are unemployed, those whose talents are rusting in idleness because there is nothing for them to do. One great teacher used to say that the saddest words in all Shakespeare’s plays are the words: Othello’s occupation is gone.’ In that market place, men stood waiting because no one had hired them; in his compassion, the master gave them work to do. He could not bear to see them idle.
4. There are people who think that, because they have been members of a Church for a long time, the Church practically belongs to them and they can dictate its policy. Such people resent what seems to them the intrusion of new blood or the rise of a new generation with different plans and different ways.
5. God’s pay is not based on works and energy. It is based on God’s grace and justice, and it is based on God’s concern and care for all. Who would have every thought that the willing and eager workers who immediately responded to the Lord would expose a grumbling, jealous spirit? To prevent His servants from judging and showing preference among themselves, Christ closes His discussion of eternal life and salvation with a strong warning: the last will be first.
At the outset the action of the Master may seem to be not really justifiable. He should not have treated everyone equally. But we should always remember that God’s standard of judgment is totally different from the human standards. God is teaching the great lesson of ‘Righteousness’ to the people who dwelled in self-righteousness. In our work place or in our institutions, whenever someone new comes and gains prominence it creates a sort of bitter feeling for those who were there for sometime. Right from our childhood we have learnt to compare ourselves with others. It is a hard lesson for all us; we should stop comparing ourselves with others simply because God will give us our due and we are not given the authority to judge the others.
The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible
William Barclay’s Commentary