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Sep 28 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Fifty-seven – Matthew 20:1-16

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. Matthew 20:1-2

With the exception of Jesus’ prediction of his death and resurrection, the structure of this chapter is built around wishes. Twice the landowner in the parable did what he wished (vv. 14-15). When the mother of James and John came with a special request, Jesus asked her what was her wish (v. 21). Jesus explained to the disciples that the person who wished to become great had to make himself a servant (v. 26), and when Jesus stopped to answer the cry of a blind beggar, the Lord asked him, “What do you wish Me to do for you?”

Returning to the parable, the landowner is unique in that what he wished was to use his wealth to be generous. It is sad that he was put in a position where he had to defend his generosity. But there were believers in Jesus’ day, even as there are believers today, who did not understand grace but were fixated on merit and were convinced they could work their way into eternal life (Mt. 19:16).

The landowner says, in effect, “You have no room in your heart for grace. You are not thankful that you were able to get work today and you can now go home with a denarius. You are not happy for your fellow workers who hit the jackpot. People like you, who do not know or appreciate grace get only what you deserve, what you have earned, and no more.”

So what have we learned from this parable about the kingdom of heaven? Well, yes, the last shall be first and the first last (v. 16). But what are we to do with this information? We are to open our hearts to grace, both to receive it and to share it. Let go of the cause and effect thinking that defines work and wages in the corporate world. God’s grace is the reason he “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good” (Mt. 5:45). Whatever blessing God gives you, give it to someone else. When God then gives you more, give that away too. Keep progressing in this upward spiral until the day you find yourself in the ultimate, eternal, and infinite grace of God.

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