The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard – Matthew 20:1-16
What are the wages of the kingdom?
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
2 “Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 “And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 “and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went.
5 “Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.
6 “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?’
7 “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.’
8 “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.’
9 “And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.
10 “But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.
11 “And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner,
12 “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.’
13 “But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?
14 ‘Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.
15 ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
Food for Thought
1. What do you think of death-bed or death-row conversions?
2. What is the most generous thing anyone has ever done for you?
3. What is the main reason why you work?
4. To what situation did Jesus compare the kingdom of heaven? (20:1)
5. What did the landowner go out and do? (20:1)
6. What wages were agreed upon by the landowner and his hired hands? (20:2)
7. In the parable, what happened at about 9.00 a.m. (third hour)? (20:3)
8. What wage was agreed upon between the landowner and his second batch of workers? (20:4)
9. How many additional times did the landowner go out and hire workers? (20:5-6)
10. What explanation did the last group of workers give when asked why they were standing around doing nothing? (20:7)
11. What happened to the last group of workers? (20:7)
12. What did the landowner tell his foreman at the end of the day? (20:8)
13. What wages did the workers hired at the eleventh hour receive? (20:9)
14. What did the landowner pay to the men who worked all day? (20:10)
15. How did the workers respond to the landowner’s system of payment? (20:11-12)
16. What rationale did the landowner give for his actions? (20:13-15)
17. In what way does God’s grace seem unfair?
18. Why are identical wages given to both early and late workers?
19. Who earns less, those who are late or those who are early?
20. What are the wages of the kingdom?
21. If you were one of those first hired at 6 a.m., how would you have felt?
22. What does this parable reveal about God and his kingdom?
23. Do you ever wish you had waited, or feel jealous of others who waited until the “eleventh hour?”
24. Do you ever envy God’s blessing on others? Why?
25. Who are you most determined to please in your place of work and how: your employer, yourself or your Father?
26. Who do you think works harder and longer and why: mothers of pre-schoolers, lawyers, bank workers, okada drivers, or pastors?
27. How do our cultural values resist the idea of grace?
28. Why is it dangerous to compare your own situation with someone else’s?
29. How would you answer the argument that God is not fair in the way he forgives?
30. How does it make you feel to know that heaven will include ex-murderers, former child-molesters, and people who put their trust in Christ only minutes before death?
31. What would happen if God gave each of us what we deserve?
32. How does the world today display its hatred for Jesus and God?
33. What can you do today to help someone who needs God’s grace begin to understand the love of God?
34. In what way can you say thank you to God every day this week for his amazing grace in your life?