Thursday 14 November 2019

Bible Book:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.” (v. 1)

Matthew 20:1-16 Thursday 14 November 2019

Psalm: Psalm 104:1-23


God likes an early start! But more than that God is a very unusual employer, spending all day going out to look for people to do the work, including just before knocking-off time. The Bible loves repetition to drive the impact home, but mostly there is only one repeat. (Job’s story is striking in that four successive servants arrive to bring him bad news.) But when God does it, there are five recruitment trips to the marketplace! It’s important to read the story slowly, don’t rush over the landowner going out on his horse, or in his chariot or Transit van. It’s also extremely odd that random people keep turning up at the marketplace throughout the day – did they spend all day in bed before deciding to look for work in the afternoon, and is there a theological meaning attached to this?

Of course this eccentric landowner sets everything up for maximum discomfort and irritation. Yes, Jesus (and God) has a huge sense of humour; I wonder whether he kept a straight face while telling his odd stories? In passing we note that this is an effective case study in agreeing employment contracts, but then we collide with Jesus’ shocking repetition of his 'last will be first' verdict. God and Jesus are always looking for the last, the first are easy to find, only God keeps going to the end. There may also be a subtext about religious supremacy, something which we all do well to avoid if we don’t want to hear these words addressed to us “take what belongs to you and go". (v. 14)


To Ponder:

  • What does the kingdom of heaven look like in your thinking?
  • What does this passage have to tell us about working practices?
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