Merciful and loving God will be calling sinners into His kingdom until the very last day.
Work in vineyards was common in Jesus’s time. The workday began early, at about six in the morning. In our parable, the workers who started early in the morning were not paid by the hour but were promised a lump sum of one denarius. This was the standard daily rate for an experienced worker. During the day, the owner of the vineyard went out many times to recruit more workers. He promised them all the standard pay. Some new workers came as late as the eleventh hour.
When the evening came, work in the vineyard was finally finished. It was time to pay the workers, but everybody was astonished at the way the paying was done. The workers who came last were paid first. And even they were given a full denarius!
Quite understandably, any experienced worker would have felt upset about this. Should not those who only worked for an hour get only part of the full pay? The owner of the vineyard addressed the protesting worker gently. “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matt. 20:13–15.)
”My grace is sufficient for you”
The vineyard in this parable stands for God’s kingdom, and the owner of the vineyard is the Heavenly Father Himself. Jesus spoke this parable to teach us to be content with God’s grace, for the power of God is strong in those who are weak in themselves. Jesus reflects the essence of God, full of grace and truth. Grace always comes before truth, and it is unmerited love towards us. “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom. 11:6.)
The workday in the parable stands for the length of human temporal life, or the time of grace. A person can enter God’s kingdom even at the very last moment of life. For as long as there is life, there is hope. Even those who believe their sins forgiven at their last breath are promised the full reward in heaven. God sanctifies the sinner in His congregation on earth, and the living gospel is proclaimed by the followers of Jesus (John 20:22–23).
It is sad that many workers leave God’s vineyard before the end of the day. The work that they did until their departure is not rewarded. Who could have done such great and noble deeds in his life as King Solomon did? Yet even he strayed and began to worship alien gods before his death. (1 Kings 11:4–11.)
The criminal on the cross had done horrible things, but he wanted to believe. Jesus promised him a place in Paradise (Luke 23:43). In the Letter to the Romans we read, ”where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20–21). Sin brings death, but grace eternal life, because our Lord Jesus Christ gives each believer the gift of righteousness.
Workers will be rewarded
In an old Finnish hymn we sing about reward: ”After the war there will be peace, and workers will get their reward.” The worker in this hymn means anybody who feels poor and humble in himself and has a heartfelt desire to rely on the power of the Heavenly Father. The most important thing for each child of God is to believe their sins forgiven today.
We should not grow tired in our endeavour of faith, thinking there will be time to repent later. We get new strength for our endeavour when we, again and again, look at the initiator of our faith and the reward we will ultimately receive. Even Moses preferred to be mistreated with the people of God in Egypt rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the indignity suffered by Jesus greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Heb. 11:25–26.)
God is a loving father who allowed his Son to die for the sins of mankind. “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” (Ps. 103:10–11.)
Tuomo A. Komulainen
Published in Päivämies on 20 Jan. 2016
Monet suunnitelmat ovat tänä poikkeuksellisena keväänä muuttuneet. Muun muassa perhejuhlien järjestelyjä on pitänyt miettiä uudelleen. Tämä on koskenut myös avioliittoon vihkimisiä. Nyt vihkimisiä on toimitettu niin, että koolla on ollut vain joitakin läheisiä, ja muu juhlaväki on seurannut tilaisuutta ehkä virtuaalisesti. Hääjuhlia on jouduttu siirtämään myöhäisempiin ajankohtiin. Jotkut hääparit ovat siirtäneet tämän vuoksi myös avioitumistaan.