Looking here at Matthew 20:1-16 shows us a strange parable told by Jesus about a vineyard owner and a day of service under him. This passage is a metaphor for how God works and what is within his rights as God above all.
The parable goes something along the lines of this: There is this vineyard owner who hires his help by the day. One morning he sets out to find workers for the day and finds some in the city. He tells them that he’ll pay a full day’s wages to come work for the whole day. They agree and go to work. 3 more times, noon, three o’clock and five o’clock, the owner does the same thing and tells them that he will pay them whatever is appropriate at the end of the day. When the day’s work is over, all the workers are called by the foreman to be paid. The owner pays the last-hired workers first and gives them a full day’s pay. He then works his way toward the men who were hired first. Against logic, however, he only pays them one days worth of pay (the same as the guys who probably only worked a few hours). Naturally, they start complaining, but the owner rebukes them and says “Isn’t it my money to pay out how I see fit? What do you care if I want to be super nice to others? I paid you what I said I would.”
This passage is extremely important because it gives us, as followers of the Judeo-Christian God, some insight on how he operates his “vineyard” that we live and work in. Basically it tells that God is all-powerful and that everything belongs to him to do with as he pleases. Therefore, we should not be envious or feel indignant when we have worked harder than others but receive a smaller blessing than they receive. Every breath we take is a blessing and for that alone, God is doing more than he is obligated to do, so we should be content that he is holding up his end of the bargain toward us.
This parable helps people cope in the times in life when things get hard. It reminds us to remain humble and grateful for what we have. As Americans, we tend to get spoiled and somewhere along the line, we pick up this idea that we’re owed something by someone. This is simply untrue as God is the only one deserving of anything and we are extravagantly and obscenely blessed here in America. I know I can apply this parable to my life when looking at the success of friends and coworkers and learn from it to just be happy for God’s favor on their life because they are no more and no less deserving than me.
Upon first reading this scripture (though I’ve heard it many times), I immediately started trying to assign meaning to every character. Vineyard owner is God, foreman is Jesus when he returns and workers are God’s followers. But then I stopped myself and thought “though some of these meanings may be true, what is the point of this scripture?” Truly, I think that the point behind the parable is gratitude and humility. This is what we as readers and believers should take from this scripture.
Thanks for reading!
Peace, The Dread