Robert Griffith | 19 April 2024
Robert Griffith
19 April 2024


Ephesians 2:8-9   “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Jesus presents a vision of grace in the tale of the vineyard labourers that the disciples would never forget. The disciples battled with grace, just like us. They connected God’s acceptance with their performance, purity, or heritage – which is anything but grace!

Grace is never payment for services rendered or a reward for our performance. That’s religion and God hates religion! Grace is not something we can buy, labour for, or earn. Jesus uses an example of how people enter the Kingdom of Heaven to help us understand. He uses a similar quote at the start and the finish of the story to bookend it.

Matthew 19:30  “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Jesus relates the story of a landowner who went out early one morning to hire labourers for his vineyard in between these bookends. The landowner hired several workers who were idle at 9:00 a.m., assuring them he would pay them whatever was fair at the end of the day. He then went around the marketplace. He followed the same routine at noon, 3:00 pm, and 5:00 pm. He instructed the foreman to pay all of the workers that night, starting with the last ones.

This is where the narrative becomes captivating. Those that were employed the day before received a full day’s pay from the vineyard owner! Those who were employed first assumed that because they had put in more hours, they would be paid more. They objected when they received the same pay! They grumbled, saying,

Matthew 20:12  “These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

Now look at the owner’s answer to them:

Matthew 20:13–15   “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

This parable is about salvation, not about rewards for good deeds. It’s a beautiful, but confronting portrait of grace. It depicts the benevolence and kindness of God. It takes the same grace to redeem you whether you came to Christ early in life and served him forever or whether you came to Him later! Redemption came at the same cost! Early converts to Christ are no more worthy of His grace than the criminal who was hanging besides Jesus on the cross – to whom Jesus gifted eternal life!

Similar to those who were employed early in life, we may grow conceited and even harbour resentment towards people who turn to God in their final hours, believing that they are less worthy of God’s mercy than we are – even if nobody is worthy of eternal life! Salvation is God’s grace to unworthy sinners – whether they come early or late.

This parable serves as a helpful reminder to new converts to Christ who may have discovered Him later in life that they are equally loved and forgiven to those who have known and followed Him all their lives! The Bible states says God saved you by His grace when you believed, regardless of how long it took to come to Him. Furthermore, this is a gift from God; you cannot claim credit for it. We cannot brag about our salvation because it is not a prise for our good deeds.

Since grace is a gift that must be accepted, thankfulness is the best answer we can give! Express gratitude to God for His grace towards you and ask Him to help you in showing others the same grace.

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