By Colleen Donahue

We have in this story a situation that happened often in Palestine. The grapes would ripen at the end of September and then the rains would come on quickly. A vineyard owner would go to the market place where men would be standing and waiting for work. Anyone would be needed, even for a short period of time. These men were like a migrant farm hand of today. They were the lowest of the work forces, and always at the mercy of chance employment. A Jewish work day went from 6AM to 6PM.

Jesus is telling this story so that we will see more clearly what the kingdom of Heaven is like and especially about ......


The Generosity of God

Studies continued from Matthew 20:1-16



Day 1-If you haven't already read Matthew 20:1-16 take the time to read it all at once.
Matthew 20: 1-16

Day 2- In this story who is taking the initiative for the work in the vineyards?
Matthew 20: 1,3,5,6

The landowner is God Himself. He is the one who takes the initiative to seek for men who will work for His purposes in this world.
Luke 19:10

Day 3- Who did the landowner make a contract with?
Matthew 20: 1-2

Who didn't get a contract and how was compensation arranged?
Matthew 20:3-5

Who got hired without even a mention of reward?
Matthew 20: 6-7

These details are significant because they were and are a warning.

A Warning to the Jews

Day 4- This is a warning to the Jews who were God's privileged, chosen people. God chose them in love to do His work on this earth.
Exodus 19:5-6 / Deuteronomy 14:2

Day 5- They become a very prideful nation because they were the "chosen people" right from the beginning.
Luke 3:8 / John 8:31-33, 39

Day 6- But they (the Jews) turned God's love relationship with them into a contract.
Romans 2:23-24, 28-29

Day 7- They expected and deserved God's grace and favor because they were His chosen people. They looked down at anyone not chosen (i.e. the Gentiles) and they made a pretense of superior piety while separating themselves from the common people.
Matthew 15:6-9 / Matthew 23:1-5a,28

A Warning to the Disciples

Day 8- This parable is also a warning to the disciples who had the privilege of being with Christ from the beginning. Remember just a few verses earlier Peter had asked the Lord a question which was probably also on the hearts of the other disciples.
Matthew 19:27

The disciples were similar to the first workers that the landlord hired. They had been with Christ through "the heat of the day" and surely they would get a greater reward from God than new disciples!

God's Character

Day 9- We see in these verses a great deal about God and His love for men. We have already seen that God is the one that goes seeking after us. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us working in his field. What is his message to all of us in one word?
Isaiah 55:1 / John 7:37 / Revelation 22:17

Day 10- Then, we see that no matter when a man comes to God he is equally precious. In this parable the landowner hired men the first, third, sixth, ninth and then the 11th hour. Right up until the end of the day he wanted and needed these men for the work. What is a constant truth in God's word?
Matthew 9:37

So no matter when a man enters God's kingdom he is equally loved and needed.

Day 11- Then we see God's compassion on the men still without work at 5PM. With only one hour left in the work day they were still available to do some work. No mention of compensation is made for these men. They just wanted to work. As the last hired, they were the first to be paid.
Matthew 20:6-9

For one hour of work they received a day's wage -- enough to feed and care for their families. They did not earn or deserve what they received.

Day 12- We see in the paying of these men the generosity of God. All service ranks the same with God. It is not the quantity of serving but the love with which it is done.
Matthew 20:9-15

Day 13- The men hired later in the day did not know what their compensation might be. They just wanted to work. But those hired at the start of the day had a contract. Beware of being a professional, paid worker for God. If love for God is not your motivation there will be no lasting work in God's kingdom.
Deuteronomy 10:12 / Ephesians 6:7 / Colossians 3:23-24


Day 14- Finally, we see in these verses a lesson about God's grace. God's grace is His generosity to us that we don't deserve.
1 Timothy 1:12-13

Day 15- It can't be earned by hard work.
Romans 9:16 / Ephesians 2:4-9 / Titus 3:5

Day 16- His grace is a gift not a payment.
1 Timothy 1:14

Day 17- God gives it freely -- not reluctantly.
Romans 3:24

Day 18- And -- it's available to all men who will receive it regardless of race, gender or creed.
Titus 2:11

Day 19- Jesus finishes this parable with the same point He had made earlier in His discussion with His disciples.
Matthew 19:30 / Matthew 20:16

All service for Christ will be rewarded. For every person that is faithful to serve in the opportunity they are given, there will be a reward. But only God can adequately access each person's motivation and work. Thus, the human judgements we make will see some reversals in the Kingdom of Heaven.

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