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The Parable of the Vineyard Workers

By:  Scott

For a link to the scripture I'm referencing, follow this link!

I'll give you a second to read through it...

Did you click it?  Isn't that dog funny?  Okay, seriously, here's the real link to the scripture.

So this parable is famous mostly for it's last line of "The last shall be first and the first shall be last."

But this is a great parable, for more than just one line. It's also misused a lot because of that last line. 

People think "Oh, that's just Jesus telling us that the little guy will get ahead in heaven." Maybe, but that's not all that I think is important.

Whenever I read parables, I choose to look at the characters I feel are the most relatable. Take this parable. I look at the workers, and the soon-to-be workers. These are the guys I can relate to, so I try to understand them as people, not just characters. The landowner goes and hires some men throughout the day, each time promising them the same wage at the end of the day.

An interesting line in the parable is verse 7. When asked why they are standing around doing nothing, a group of men say simply, "Because no one has hired us."  See, if these guys had been hard at work in another field, they would have been unavailable for hire. Just as people who are distracted by career, or addiction, or personal glory cannot be "hired" by God. We must be available for hire.  And we must be willing to work.

And then I notice the fact that these workers seem only concerned about their wages in the end. I know Jesus was trying to get just one point across, but I'm surprised he never mentions that the men seem completely disinterested in what their work is contributing to. See I think the bigger issue in the Parable of the Vineyard Workers is not that the men want to be payed more for their work, it's that they seem to only care about the wages at the end of the day.

They work on a vineyard. They are a part of the process of making wine. The problem is, no single laborer in a vineyard gets to see the whole process from start to finish. The field workers toil on the vines, then there's the stompers, the sifters, the barrelers, the tasters, the bottlers, and finally the merchants. The only one who see's the master plan is the landowner. He carefully watches every step along the way. He knows every grape from seed to first sip. Imagine being the laborer; it's your first day in the field, you have never set foot on a vineyard before. How are you to understand the scope of the system you've just stepped into? All you're concerned with is getting payed after sweating all day long.

Now imagine being a worker who understands his critically important role, who understands that without him the vines will never grow, the grapes never stomped, the juice never gathered, the wine never fermented, the bottles never sold, the glasses never filled. If you understand why your work is vital, then the work is payment itself.  To go from standing around doing nothing to being a part of creating the most complex and carefully-crafted drink man can make... Well which would you rather do?

See I think the more important question to ask ourselves when we read this parable is not "How do I get my denarius?" We should be asking "Can I taste the wine?"

And to close, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite youtube classics.  I give you, "Grape Lady Falls"...


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