I will say to those who were not My people, “You are My people!” And they will say, “You are my God!”
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard is not a lesson about labor relations; it is a lesson about how God rewards us. Remember, the laborers in the parable who worked a full day got the same compensation as those who worked only one hour. Jesus closed the parable with this statement: “The last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).
I believe the primary application of this passage has to do with salvation. Jesus was trying to silence the criticism of the Pharisees, the religious adherents of the law in Jewish society. They were bent out of shape over Jesus teaching that Gentiles were going to be fellow heirs in the kingdom of God. After all, in Jewish thinking, the Gentiles were third-class citizens while the Jews were God’s chosen people. How could it be that at the eleventh hour, God would say, “Gentiles, you, too, can be a part of the kingdom of God”?
But Jesus was saying that because God’s chosen people, the Jews, had rejected Jesus Christ, those who had been first in the kingdom of God were now becoming last in the kingdom of God. And the Gentiles who were embracing the gospel and coming to Christ had become first in the kingdom of God.
Most Christians today do not have a problem with the idea of Gentiles being saved–after all, most of us are Gentiles. But sometimes we do have a problem with the kind of people God chooses to save. Maybe you became a Christian at an early age, and you have been faithfully serving God all your life. Then you see a person who has dissipated their life in immorality and rebellion against God, and late in life they choose to trust in Christ as their Savior. We say, “Are you trying to tell me that person is going to the same heaven as I am? That does not seem fair.”
But God’s reason for saving you and me has nothing to do with us; it is all about God’s grace. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” This parable reminds us that salvation is God’s to give to whomever He chooses. If God wants to save somebody on their deathbed who has rebelled against God their entire life, that is His business. God’s system of rewards is different than ours. Grace turns our idea of who should be saved upside down.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Lesson In Workman’s Compensation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org