The Parable Of The Last One First

Matthew 20:1-16

Goal of this paper
Understanding the parable that has a man working only one hour, and getting the same amount of pay, as the man who has worked for 12 hours.

Matthew 20:1-16 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you. So they went."

"Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, Why have you been standing here idle all day? They said to him, Because no one hired us. He said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive. So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first."

"And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day."

"But he answered one of them and said, Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen."

I would like to paraphrase the above parable in the following way.

A man was hiring workers for the day and at daybreak he hired 6 workers and agreed to pay each of them $100.00 for the day. At 9 AM he hired 4 more workers. At noon he hired 5 more. At 3 PM he hired 17 more men to work for him for that day. Then at 4 PM he hired 23 more men to work for him. At 5 PM he called an end to the work day and paid each and every worker exactly $100.00. No more and no less.

But how in the world can this be fair?

All these workers, every single one of them, represent saved believers who have found the Lord. The length of the workday represents that specific period of time in each of their lives, when each believer found Jesus Christ. The $100.00 pay that each worker got at the end of the day represents eternal salvation and eternal life. So what this parable is telling us is that the believer who has come to Jesus Christ 60 seconds ago, is as much of a saved believer as is the believer who has been working tirelessly and diligently for the Lord for the last 60 years.

This is the principle expressed in the Bible that explains to us how the good thief on the cross was able to gain eternal salvation moments before he died on the cross next to Jesus. This is how people who have rejected Christ their entire lives, can on their deathbeds, gain eternal salvation moments before they die by finally coming to Jesus Christ.

But at first glance it appears that there is very little if any difference between when a person finds Jesus. All the above believers eventually found Jesus Christ so there really is not much difference between any of them. But there is ! There is a tremendous difference between the one who found Jesus Christ later in life and the one who has been surrendered to Jesus for most of their life.

The believers that have been following Christ ever since their early years are indicated by those workers who have been working since daybreak. Those are the believers that have led Godly lives and have been blessed by God for all those many years. The ones that have followed Christ their whole lives are the ones that have been truly blessed because they are the ones who had the Godly wisdom to judge things rightly or wrongly all through their lives. They are the ones that have had a lifetimes ability to see things as they are and not as they appear to be. They are the ones who have had the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong, good and best, wise and unwise. They are the ones that have constantly asked direction from God and in return have received the very best. They have sought out God's will and were given the ability to see below the surface and thus were better able to analyze and understand, so that they could make right Godly decisions.

For they are the believers who did not have lives filled with guilt or remorse. They don't have to lay in bed at night and be haunted by all the horrible memories of the evil that they have done through out their lives. They are the ones who don't look back on their lives and see a path of hurt, pain, bad feelings, and regrets. They don't have to lie there and think to themselves, how could they have been so foolish to have done so many stupid and hurtful things to themselves and to so many others. They are the ones who don't have to go through so many days filled with so much regret and remorse.

You will not find the ones who have followed Jesus Christ their whole lives, living lives that are in turmoil. They are not wondering about all the wrong choices that they have made. They are not the ones who have had to wrestle with such things as alcohol, pornography, and anger their whole lives. They are not the ones that have to worry about all the disasters that they have had to experience. All the hurt and pain they have inflicted on themselves and on others. They are the ones who have been able to make Godly decisions, have been able to react in a Godly manner, been able to see good and evil in all kinds of situations, and to know which road to take when faced with different roads.

They want what God wants and are always looking for God's best. They were better able to distinguish between truth and error. With help from the Holy Spirit they were able to see the deceptions and pitfalls that line one's walk through this life. The ones who have followed Christ their whole lives are not as easily deceived by sin for they have a discerning spirit. And this discerning spirit is what prevents the believer from messing up their lives.

All the workers in the above parable will receive eternal life, but the ones who have been faithful and obedient to Jesus Christ their whole lives are the truly blessed ones, because they have discovered how to lead peaceful, happy, rich rewarding lives. Lives full of productivity and fullness. Lives lived in Godly service to the Lord. Lives that have great satisfaction regardless of the turmoil swirling around them. These are the ones with a clean heart, a heart not clouded by sin. A clean heart whose actions were always guided by Jesus Christ. Lives lived in Godly service to the Lord. These are the ones who have received a whole life time of Godly blessings.

Picture for a moment how much more enjoyable and peaceful your life would have been had you found and followed Jesus Christ early in your life.


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