Can I quickly take you through a parable recorded in Matthew chapter 20?
There was a Man who had a vineyard and one day, He decided to employ some labourers to work in His vineyard. First, He employed some set of Labourers EARLY IN THE MORNING and they ‘agreed’ for a penny as their wages for the labour. (Vs 2) Then He went ahead and employed more labourers later in the day! (Vs 3-5). Later on, at the eleventh hour (when the day’s work was almost ended), He saw some labourers in the marketplace and employed them too. (Vs 6-7). Hmm…
Now it was time for them to be paid. The bible grouped the labourers into two categories:
– those that came AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR
– those that CAME AT THE EARLY HOURS.
Those who came at the ‘eleventh’ hour received their wages first and were paid ONE PENNY EACH. When those who came at the early hours came to receive their wages, the Owner of the vineyard gave them ONE PENNY too! (Vs 9-10) Now this is where the story begins! Those that came EARLY began to ‘murmur’ against the Employer for giving them A PENNY….thereby making them equal with those who came at the ELEVENTH hour! See their words:
‘Those people worked only ONE HOUR, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked ALL DAY in the SCORCHING HEAT.’ (Vs 12)
Hmm… These guys were making a good point! They had been working since morning! And now they are receiving the same wages with those who only worked for ONE HOUR when the SUN was no longer intense! But why would the Employer give those who came late the same wage as those who came early? Could it be that the Employer was not wrong for His actions? Hmm…
Now hear the response of the Employer to the complaint of those who had been working since morning under the Sun:
‘Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou AGREE WITH ME FOR A PENNY’? (Vs 13)
Oh! There is something hidden here! Those that came early had already AGREED to be paid ONE PENNY before they started the work at all!
‘…when he had AGREED with the labourers for A PENNY a day…’ (Matt 20:2)
So those ‘early’ guys had an INITIAL AGREEMENT to be paid ONE PENNY! Hmm… But those that came at the eleventh hour made NO AGREEMENT with the Employer! See how they got to start the job:
‘…He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and WHATSOEVER IS RIGHT, that shall YE RECEIVE…’ (Matt 20:7)
Wow! ‘whatsoever is RIGHT…’ This means they simply choose to be rewarded according to the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the Employer!Hmm…
Now listen carefully: those who came early represent believers UNDER LAW…while those who came late represent believers UNDER GRACE!
Under Law, you AGREE to the terms and conditions of the Law before you can claim your blessings!
The Law says: IF YOU DO…THEN GOD WILL DO!
Grace says: GOD WILL DO…BECAUSE you believe JESUS HAS DONE!
The Law makes you agree with God to bless you based on your self-effort! You work in the HEAT of the sun and then claim your wages at the end of the day! Grace makes God agree to bless you based on what Jesus has done for you on the Cross! You receive rewards based on the gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS Jesus wrought for you.
The Law says: ‘…Ye shall SERVE the Lord your God and He shall TAKE away SICKNESS from you…’! (Exodus 23:25)
Grace says: …surely HE (Jesus) has TAKEN away our SICKNESS….and by HIS stripes (not by how much we serve Him)…we are HEALED’! (Isa 53:4-5)
Hmm… Under Law: you must serve before God can heal! Under Grace: You must be Healed because Jesus has served!
Oh, Hallelujah! Am I against serving God? Lol….not at all! You either AGREE with God to heal you based on how much you serve Him…or based on His AGREEMENT with JESUS…to heal you because you BELIEVE Jesus has taken your sickness away! That will make you serve God as a ‘son’ and not as a ‘servant’! You will begin to serve God NOT AS AN OBLIGATION… but out of APPRECIATION! Hmm…
The reason why Jesus went to the Cross was to establish a new covenant, which is totally different from the covenant of the Law! And when He was about to die, He cried out IT IS FINISHED! (John 19:30)
Hmm…what was finished? The LAW and its consequences!
‘For Christ is the END OF THE LAW unto righteousness to everyone that BELIEVETH’! (Rom 10:4)
Oh, I love how the NLT renders the above verse:
‘…For CHRIST HAS ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE LAW was given. As a result, all who believe in him are MADE RIGHT WITH GOD…’ (Romans 10:4)
Wow! Can you imagine what would happen if every believer understands the above verse? If you are a Believer, God is Judging you based on WHAT HIS SON DID!
‘…For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; THAT WE MIGHT BE MADE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD in him…’ (2Cor 5:21)
Hmm… Stop praying like someone under Law! Stop saying …‘Lord, you have to heal me because I serve you in church’!
Why not stop AGREEING to be blessed based on your self effort! Jesus has already AGREED FOR YOU! Instead pray like this: ‘Lord I decree this sickness out of my body ….for I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and Jesus TOOK away my SINS AND SICKNESSES by His death and resurrection!
Which one has more weight? Which one has more rewards? What you DO or What Jesus has done? Hmm… Therefore, serve God…not so that HE WILL BLESS YOU! But serve God…BECAUSE HE HAS BLESSED YOU!
Don’t be like the elder brother of the prodigal son who was BUSY working in the field FOR what has ALREADY been given to him! Else you will start murmuring like him and like those who were working since morning……that how come God is blessing the ‘prodigal son’ and those that came at the Last hour…more than you! See what he told the Father :
‘..these many years do I SERVE thee, NEITHER TRANSGRESSED I AT ANY TIME thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:….But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf…’ (Luke 15:29-30).lol…
Did you notice this guy was using the same language those who had been working since morning used?
‘…These last people have worked for only ONE HOUR, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the BURDEN AND HEAT of the day…’ (Matt 20:12)
Hmm… Listen: Jesus has ALREADY borne the BURDEN AND HEAT of the day for you on the cross! JESUS HAS ALREADY AGREED ON YOUR BEHALF TO GIVE YOU A PENNY!
Don’t go and start making an agreement with God to bless you based on self-effort! You are a SON… don’t reduce yourself to a servant! Hmm…
I’m sure you enjoyed going through the book of Matthew 20 with me. JESUS HAS ALREADY AGREED FOR YOU! Simply Believe! And you won’t have to bear the burden and heat of the day.
Remain under Grace.