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Matthew chapter 20's parable of the vineyard workers is one that I have at times had challenges with. I, like the workers who labored all day, would think - "that's not fair!" Well.... but then I came to realize that I believe this story is a parable of Grace. God's grace. And you know what - God's grace is not "fair." And thank God for this being so! God's grace is so powerful and all-encompassing and life-giving and healing and saving. And God's grace is offered to me. And to you. And to our neighbors. And to everyone. God's grace is offered to people that have sinned against God. Me. You. Our Neighbors. Everyone. God's grace is offered to people who become Christians early in their lives and live wonderfully giving lives. And God's grace is offered to people who become Christians on their deathbed after living destructive lives, but who finally repent and surrender to God. God's grace is given freely. Like these workers in this story, we may accept God's grace at different points in the "day" of our life. Though, of course, some never do ultimately accept God's grace and there is grave risk as the day grows longer... How about you? What part of the "day" are you in? Have you accepted God's gift of grace? Will you do so today? While it is still "today" for you? Below is an oil painting by Rembrandt from 1637 of "The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard":
Jesus' teaching in Matthew 20 verse 16 has always been convicting to me: "And so it is, that many who are first now will be last then; and those who are last now will be first then." I see the wisdom in this verse... but yet, I still think that I try to be "first" in many ways in my life. I don't like being "last". I like being honored. I like being the star. I don't like being the servant. I don't like to be the guy supporting the star. And yet, Jesus is calling us to be last. To serve others. To let others go first. How about you? Are you trying to be "first" in your life? Or do you see the eternal wisdom in being "last"? Continuing this thought of serving others - below is a painting from 1856 by British painter Ford Maddox Brown of "Christ Washing St. Peter's Feet":
As this chapter proceeds we read about Jesus prophesying his own death and resurrection. And then, we see Jesus prophesy about the end of James & John's life when their mother and they ask to sit at Jesus' right & left in heaven. Check out verses 22 & 23: ""You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink?" "Oh yes," they replied, "we are able!" "You will indeed drink from it," he told them." You will indeed drink from it... James ended his life being martyred for his faith in Jesus. And John ended his life in exile on the island of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation. And I wonder again about us today... sometimes we hear about the "health, wealth and prosperity gospel", and think that's what we've signed up for as Christians. But... do you think that it might be possible that at some point in your life that you might be called to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow that Jesus drank from? If you are called to drink from that bitter cup, will you indeed drink from it? Below is a painting by Flemish artist Pieter van Mol from the early 17th century of "Jesus with the cup":
The last 10 words of verse 28 remind me of the Passover Lamb / Jesus parallels discussed above in this post: "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many. Do you believe that Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for you?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 20 titled "Workers in the Vineyard" is at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of Third Day’s song “My Hope is You.” Here they are singing it at their final concert ever at Red Rocks in 2018:
Where is your hope these days? Click here to put your hope in Jesus!
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