Pastor Ronald E. Krause
Zion Lutheran Church, Grant
The parable that Jesus tells in our Gospel reading this coming Sunday is a little hard for us to understand. He related how this landowner went out in the morning and hired men to work in his vineyard that day; and then, throughout the day, he went back into town, saw others standing around doing nothing—and sent them out to work for him also. The parable ends with these workers receiving their pay. The last ones hired were given a full day’s pay—even those who had only worked for one hour!
Thus when those who had worked all day long stepped forward, they naturally assumed that they would be given something extra—for the extra time they had put in.
How disappointed they were when they received the same pay as those other guys; but the landowner rightly asserted that he had not cheated them, and that he had a right to be as generous with his money as he wanted to be.
The point of this parable was to teach the people something about the nature of God’s Kingdom; and what Jesus was telling them was that life-long Christians, and those who became Christians later in life were all going to receive the same eternal blessings in Heaven.
Of course that might not set too well with some people either. It goes against our natural way of thinking to allow everyone to get paid the same—no matter how hard they’ve worked. That’s why we’re uncomfortable with this parable. The one who works the hardest ought to get the greatest rewards, right?
The problem with that, though, is we end up making our Christian walk through this life out to be something that is a burden on us—while those late-in-life coverts to faith got off easy.
How about the thief on the cross, he became a Christian—what—two or three hours before he died, and still hears Jesus say to him, “today you will be with me in paradise.” How fair is that? But consider all that this man had missed out on during his life by not knowing Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He didn’t get off easy, he lived his whole life not knowing the love and mercy of God to guide and comfort and uphold him.
And so it is with us. We do not envy those who have not come to know Jesus until later in life, they are to be pitied. Our lives have been so blessed by our Lord’s presence—with the assurance of his unfailing love and forgiveness, that we would never consider our walk with him a burden that we must bear. We have received the best of both worlds: a lifetime of God’s blessings here, and the promise of eternal life with him in Heaven!