Palms Baptist Church Bible Study
Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard: The Great Reversal
March 1, 2022

Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard: The Great Reversal

March 1, 2022

The Gospel System intends to reverse the Values of the World:

  • The Kingdom reverses the world value of and (Matthew 19:1-12)
  • The Kingdom reverses the worlds value of (Matthew 19:13-15)
  • The Kingdom reverses the worlds definition of (Matthew 19:16-22)
  • The Kingdom reverses the worlds value of (Matthew 19:23-26)
  • The Kingdom reverses the worlds understanding of and (Matthew 19:27-30)
  • The Kingdom reverses the worlds understanding of (Matthew 20:1-16)
  • The Kingdom reverses Jews understanding of the role of (Matthew 20:17-19)
  • The kingdom reverses the disciples understanding of (Matthew 20:20-28)
  • The Kingdom reverses the worlds understanding of (Matthew 20:29-34)

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.

  • Takes place at the time of harvest known as the Crush
    • When harvest came, every hour mattered
    • Too much sun exposure over a couple days would spoil the unharvested grapes
    • If it rained, it would ruin the grapes
  • Parable assumes a grim, grey, matter-of-fact environment in which work is nothing but toil
  • The Land owner was probably well-off but not so wealthy he can leave oversight of his vineyard to agents

 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

  • 1 Denarius a day was standard
    • Conservative estimates say you needed around ½ denarius a day to live on
    • 200 Denari a year was the poverty line
    • If a day laborer was not hired for at least half a day, his children would go hungry the next day
    • Day laborers were not hired every day…
    • Each day was a 12-hour work-day
    • Poverty was so obvious that Torah charges day laborers to be paid at sunset due to how bad they need the money (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15)
      • Rabbinical writings such as M. Baba Mesi a 9.12 teach the same
      • Rabbi Tosefta mentions the deceit among land owners who promised higher pay for to workers but did not deliver
      • Tosefta also discusses workers who experience heat exhaustion or prostration I this time should receive additional compensation for work (M. Baba Mesi a 7.1-3). Thus, to work in the heat of the day and get paid AS MUCH as those who only worked in the cool of the day was anti-cultural, anti-teaching, and offensive

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 

  • The land owner represents God in this parable, His field is the kingdom
    • He recruits workers for his field…and when he finds them, they are DOING NOTHING
  • Notice the payment is whatever is right, not 1 denarius a day like the first group
    • Every hired worker after the first is promised what is right

*To be hired is the same as to be called in church terms

So they went.“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.

  • Five in the afternoon is the last in the parable
  • Notice how at the end of the day, verse 6 says he went out and STILL Found others standing around. They respond that NO ONE HAS HIRED them
    • Jesus question:
      • Why are you idle in life? Because we have no purpose/calling/job

*My Question: If you have been hired for the kingdom, then why are you idle? What word describes someone hired but does not work?

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

  • In the world, a landowner would never do this…he knew it would create problems
    • But Gods kingdom is not like the world…Jesus wants to confront us with our junk
  • The land owner wants the first workers to SEE the others payments and develop an expectation for their own payment

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 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.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 

  • Landowner reminds the worker that He did him no wrong. It was not unjust. He paid what they agreed on

Ex.: My work salary

14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?

  • Literal Greek says “is your eye evil because I am good?”
    • Greek word agathos means good, suitable, excellent, and proper
    • The land owner giving the last the same as the first, therefore, was good, suitable, excellent, and proper
  • Does God not have the right? Or do you think you have earned a say?
    • Human opinion doesn’t matter in the Kingdom because all are un-worthy
    • Exam: Cinderella and the fairy god-mother
  • The workers tried to disguise their envy in the form of justice and fairness
    • Workers used their time to ponder their own superiority over the last worker instead of pondering the generosity of the land owner

*In an instant, this parable interrupts the grayness of every day life and work that something new and different explodes in history. This something upsets the characters in the parables and listeners as well – a new system of payment

*How often do we hide our vice under the banner of virtue, and worse yet, we turn Gods virtue into vice

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

*Everyone who believes in God talks about His goodness, but TALK costs nothing. If Jesus had only talked about Gods goodness and generosity than He would never have been nailed to the cross

Parable Speaks of Gods

Parable Speaks to Salvation by , not by

Parable Speaks to the Gods and for Salvation

Questions for Guided Discussion

  1. The set of Matthew 19 and 20 discuss how the Gospel reverses the worlds value for Gods values. What is the biggest thing God has reversed in your life? How you view love? Justice? Mercy? Your purpose? How you treat people? How you view yourself?
  2. Like the day-laborers, have you ever felt life was grey, full of toil, and joyless? Has a generosity, mercy, or grace of God ever given you immense joy and blessing that offended others? Do elements of Gods mercy or grace towards others ever offend you?
  3. You needed ½ a denarius a day to live. If a day-labor could not find work for two days, or only worked a minimal day, then their family would go hungry. Think about how God gives you a greater wage than you could ever earn, not just in salvation, but in every day life.
  4. The last workers in this parable were found idle because they were given no job, no purpose, and no direction. Can you relate to these workers as applied to God kingdom? Are you idle now?
  5. Often, we like to hide or spin our vices into virtue. We pretend our attitudes, responses, or offenses are out of a sense of righteousness, but in reality, it is out of our own sin. Share some examples of how we disguise vice as virtue.
  6. Just as we disguise our vice as virtue, we also turn Gods virtue into vice. What virtuous character of God do we turn to vice? His holiness? His Judgment?
  7. Jesus spoke a lot about Gods goodness, but He ultimately demonstrated Gods goodness on the cross. As Disciples, we like speak of the goodness of God, His gospel, and His kingdom, but do we demonstrate it in our own lives or simply leave it as platitude we say to others?
  8. Honestly, think about your values and priorities in life right now. If you made a list, would that list mirrors Gods values and priorities? Do you have priorities and values in agreement with the world? Have you considered that chances are, those shared priorities are the exact opposite of Gods priorities, or that your priorities may be the exact opposite of Gods?


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