The Parable of the laborers continues from Matt 19 The parable of the Rich Man...who shall be the greatest.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
At the eleventh hour of our dispensation, the Master is hiring servants. The existence of the Word in our midst, is evidence of this. What infatuation to disregard or treat coolly the call. We may be of the number of that glorious company that will spring into being at "the manifestation of the sons of God;" but we must be like them.
We must be men of faith, men of service, men of benevolent hearts; for those who are not of living hearts are not of God; and men and women of good consciences, who would not do wrong to save their lives.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
"They supposed"- the word is nomizo, from nomos-"law." The thought seems to be, not just that they anticipated more, but that they considered they were entitled to more. And, naturally thinking, if we were in the same position we would immediately exclaim that it was not fair and just to give the last, who had only worked one cool hour, the same as those who - as they truly said - had borne the burden and heat of the day. How universal is this spirit in the world! No matter how well anyone is treated, they complain bitterly if another appears to be treated slightly better.
But this thought only betrays the selfishness and envy of the natural mind. Jesus sums it up in the words of the householder -
"Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" (v. 15).
The first men had had the opportunity of working a day and receiving a day's wages. They had agreed beforehand and had received a full and just recompense. Their ground of objection was solely that someone else had been treated with kindness, and men who had no opportunity to work all day had received a day's wages. Instead of being glad that others had been treated so well, they were envious and bitter.
When we look at it in the light that Jesus, through the words of the householder, presents it, we can see how evil and small was their reaction to his kindness to the others.
But it is when we translate it into spiritual things that we perceive the enormity of the evil of this attitude of envy. And let us not think that we are free from this danger. Let us not say that we would never take such a selfish attitude. In the parable it is put in a very obvious and striking way to drive the lesson home, but in the realities of life it is far more subtle and deceptive.
Who of us can claim to have learned that one eternal, needful lesson - to forget ourselves, and to derive all our joy and comfort from the blessing and happiness of others? Who of us is big enough to spontaneously rejoice when we see others favoured at our expense? Jesus says the two basic Divine commands are-
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . . AND THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF"
If we can accomplish the first part with all our heart, then all our own inner needs are satisfied. We then possess within ourselves everything that is worthwhile possessing, for to love truly and completely is to have, and if we have God we have everything. One with the inner assurance of possessing everything is freed from selfishness and smallness. He does not say, in anxious self-concern-
"What shall WE have, therefore?"
He has learned to rest content in his glorious heritage-
"ALL THINGS are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's!" (1 Cor.3:23)
He is then ready for the second great half of the way of life-
". . . And thy neighbour as thyself."
He is overwhelmed with the dazzling revelation of the freely available abundance of spiritual wealth - he has no fear that there will not be enough to go around. He does not feel compelled to seek a guarantee of a chief place in the Kingdom (Mk. 10:37)-
"Grant us that we may sit on thy right and left hand."
When Jesus was about to leave his disciples, he said -
"If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said, I go to the Father" (Jn. 14: 28).
They thought they loved him, but they did not yet understand the SELFLESSNESS of love -
"IF ye loved me, ye would rejoice."
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
The paying of the penny is a mere part of the drapery of the parable, but if a specific counterpart to it is insisted on, it is found in the fact that the Lord is just, and will give all that the holders of the covenant can justly claim to receive -- which is merely resurrection. Everything beyond this is favour-grace: and the Lord bestows this of His own bounty, and only where men find favour in His eyes.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 30
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
Depart from me. If we selfishly take our stand upon the claims of justice, we are lost. If we question the extension of mercy to others; if we are too small to sincerely rejoice with them when others seem to be more abundantly blessed than ourselves (and perhaps, it seems, for less cause), then we stand with these unlovely murmurers who are told to take what is theirs and go their way - paid in full for their ill-humored service - leaving the fruits of love and mercy to those they despised as "these last."
There is another gross misconception into which these murmurers fell, which further reveals the smallness and falseness of their outlook. It is illustrated in Jesus' remark at Jacob's well (Jn. 4:34)-
"My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me."
As it was prophetically recorded of him in Psalms-
"I DELIGHT to do Thy will; O my God!" (40:8)
Do we remember the very first instruction given by God to Moses when he went to the top of Sinai for forty days and nights?-
"Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with the heart ye shall take My offering" (Ex. 25:2).
This was in preparation for the building of the Tabernacle. We know that the Tabernacle symbolized the Household of God in whom He dwells by His Spirit-
"Ye are the temple of the living God" (2 Cor. 6:16).
It had to be "willingly-with the heart," to be accepted. They had to realize the privilege and blessing and JOY of service. Those typified by the murmurers in the vineyard missed this point completely, in their self-centered ignorance. They thought they were doing God a favour. They thought they were earning something!
They failed entirely to realize that they had been given the greatest blessing of the longest and earliest joy of service in the vineyard. Instead of petty, self-pitying envy, their hearts should have been uplifted and enlarged with a gratitude that would overflow in the joy of seeing unearned blessings showered upon others, regardless of how little their opportunity of service.Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
It is not fitting that any class of the saved should be represented by those who "murmur against the good man of the house," or who have an "evil eye."
What then is the teaching of the parable? That not every one who labours in the vineyard will receive the Lord's favour at the last; that not even the forsaking of houses and lands and relations, or the bearing of the burden and heat of the day, will commend to God a man who is a murmurer, or has an evil eye, or who is great in his own eyes: that it is a necessity that a man recognise the absolute sovereignty of the Lord of the vineyard, both as to possession and the right to do as he wills, uncontrolled by any will, or wish or whim, on the part of those whom he favours with employment: in a word, that
"except a man humble himself as a little child, he shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 30.
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
As the labourers represent the "called," this makes it certain that they are not intended to stand indiscriminately for the saved. They stand for the called -- not for the chosen, though they include the chosen.
The parable is employed expressly to teach that it is not everyone casually employed that is selected as a permanent servant by the owner of the vineyard.
If salvation primarily depended on "works" no man could be saved: for "all have sinned, and the wages of sin is death." One sin is quite enough to ensure death, as shown in the case of Adam in Eden. Salvation, to be possible at all, has to be "by grace," by favour. This favour takes the form of the forgiveness of sins, by which a man becomes justified in the sight of God, and an heir of life eternal. But forgiveness is on conditions.
The preaching of the Gospel is a proclamation of the conditions. The conditions not only determine the question of forgiveness or no forgiveness, but they also affect the question of how high in glory those who are forgiven will rise, for there are degrees of attainment in Christ: and it is here where the element of "account" comes in. It is here where "works" will determine a man's position. The man who in this connection exclaims "Not of works" does not "rightly divide the word of truth," but wrests it to his own destruction.
Nothing is more plainly or more frequently indicated than that the called will be judged with reference to their works, and that their position will depend upon their account. Let these examples suffice: --
"Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be" (Rev. xxii. 12);
"The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. xvi. 27);
"Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour" (1 Cor. iii. 8);
"He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor. ix. 6);
"Have thou authority over ten cities ... be thou over five cities" (Luke xix. 17-19).
Nazareth Revisited Ch 30.
There is the heart of the parable. When the secrets of all hearts are made manifest, then nothing will be counted as anything that was not done for the sake of love. What a tremendous rearranging of all present values and positions there will be, when all inner motives are revealed, and first shall be last, and last first, and many of the called will not be chosen at all - all because they have not learned the lesson of love and largeness of heart that this parable teaches!
Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
In all the "times of the Gentiles" the saints are a mixed community, in which are found fish of all sorts, good, bad, and indifferent. The good are answerable to the "few who are chosen, 'and find eternal life (Matt. 20:16; 7:14): while the bad and indifferent are those who "begin in the Spirit" and end in the flesh - those who at the outset of their career seemed to "run well," but were hindered from a "patient continuance in well-doing," or "obeying the truth," in being "bewitched" by the sorcery of designing knaves, who "by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Gal. 3:1,3,7; Rom. 16:18).
In our generation, as in that of the apostles, the ecclesia or general assembly of the many, who are called, is composed of these heterogeneous materials. It has been thus in all generations before and since Satan, in the days of Job, mingled with the Sons of the Deity when they presented themselves in the Divine presence (Job 1:6). The satanic element has ever been among them with its "depths as they speak" (ch 2:24), corrupting and perverting the weak.
In the wisdom of the Deity Satan has been permitted to practice, and to deceive the hearts of the simple, who are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 3:7) without judicial interference. The Satanic element in an ecclesia is always prompt and vivacious for mischief. If it fears to attack openly the most prominent advocate of the truth, it has recourse to underhanded and secret influences. Handling the word of the Deity deceitfully, deceiving, and being deceived" are its characteristics.
While inspired with personal hatreds, it affects zeal destroying it, or making it of none effect by the traditions of its monstrous ignorance and folly Yet the Judge of the living and the dead" is profoundly silent save in the word of his law and testimony. There are reasons for this.
The truth as it is in Jesus is entrusted to the ecclesia, or House of the Deity, which is the Pillar and foundation support of the truth . The members of this house are held responsible and accountable for their relations to this, as a treasure committed to them to be contended for earnestly, and to be upheld at all hazards in their day and generation. This house being furnished with vessels of' all sorts, some to honour and some to dishonor, the truth receives a characteristic treatment at the hands of each sort.
The vessels fitted to capture and destruction set forth traditions, or heresies which nullify the Word. If men speak or write upon the things of the Spirit, they are commanded to do so as oracles of the Deity;" and if they disobey this injunction it is because "there is no light in them ". Nevertheless, they will give utterance to their folly. This cannot be helped, Fools will be fools come what may.
From these premises it is inevitable that, as Paul says, "there must be heresies among you" They are permitted to exist , though not approved. Their existence arouses the flagging energies of sterling and faithful men, "who are able to teach others" (2 Tim. 2:2). It sets them to contending more earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 2), which manifests them as the approved, who are grounded and settled in the faith, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel (1 Cor. 11:19; Col. 1:23).
This manifestation of the approved after this process is one reason why Yahweh keeps silence, and permits Satan to continue their Operations among the Sons of the Deity, without any present judicial interference. There is also another very good reason for present non-intervention, and this is, because He has appointed a set time, styled by that infallible and incomparable exponent of the truth the Lord Jesus, "a Day of Judgment," hemera kriseos (Matt. 12:36); and by the no less accurate Paul, "THE DAY when the Deity shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to the gospel" Paul preached: "therefore," saith he, "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come; who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness' and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts;" and "who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and kingdom" (Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:1) and styled by the earnest and faithful Peter, "the Day of Inspection", hemera episkopes (1 Pet. 2:12) "the time that the judgment begins at the house of the Deity" (ch. 4:17); when, as James testifies, the saints shall be judged by the law of liberty (ch 2:12)
These are two all-sufficient reasons why the Satan should be Providentially tolerated among the sons of the Deity, until the Ancient of Days come. Now is the day of salvation," says Paul; but this, in effect, the Satan denies. He turns it into a day of judgment, saying, that there is no other day of judgment for the saints than this.
Satan, of course, exceedingly dislikes the idea of being judged, and rewarded according to his works. He does not approve of the doctrine of eternal life based upon an inspection of faith and practice after resurrection. He demands resurrection with immortality, not resurrection unto eternal life. He wants to spring out of the dust immortal, and no questions asked; for he knows very well, that neither his faith or his practice will bear the light. Be this, however, as it may, his pleasure and satisfaction will not be consulted.
Inspection and its consequences begin at the house of the Christ: and Satan, who had received the one talent, and was afraid of the truth, and hid it in the earth, is purged Out as a wicked and slothful servant from among the sons of the Deity; and cast into the darkness of the outer world, where weeping and gnashing of teeth are the order of both day and night (Matt. 25:14-30; Apoc. 14:11).
This day of inspection is "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of the Deity; who will render to every one according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:5,6). It is a day in which He will separate the satanic goats from the sheep who have heard his voice, and done the Father's will. Those slothful, unprofitable, and wicked professors are "cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone," in which are destroyed the beast and the false prophet, by that portion of the last plagues which is executed by the Second and Third Angels, who have power over fire.
In other words, the judgment given to the approved, who enter into the joy of their Lord, affords scope in the execution of it upon the Diabolos and Satan of the world, for the punishment also of the unprofitable servants of the house of the Deity; who are "condemned with the world" to the calamities of the last plagues, which to them will be "a sorer punishment" than to the adversaries at large (Heb.10:26-30).
Eureka (Apoc 15 'The Sign in Heaven')
17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
Jesus took the disciples privately aside and solemnly informed them of his approaching betrayal and crucifixion. They are at this time on their last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem.
25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Heedless of the imminent burden and suffering of which he spoke to them, James and John, with their mother, come to ask the highest places of honour in his Kingdom.
This concern over self-how deeply it is ingrained in human nature! Jesus constantly labored to show them the true picture of life's meaning and purpose -"the first shall be last, and the last first." Could he have put it any more plainly or forcefully? But still it is so hard for us to get these teachings through our minds, and to adjust our lives to them.
It does not just mean we must choose to be last as a calculated method of getting to be first. It goes far deeper than that. That is just a higher and more refined form of self-seeking. We must cease completely from any desire for position or importance, realizing that all such desire stands in the way of peace with God.
"Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall have rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:29).
"What shall WE have, therefore?" must completely cease to be our basic motive. Jesus' final words on the subject, after the incident of the request of James and John, carry the deepest lesson
- "Even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (20:28).
He came to teach the cramped ugliness of the natural way of self-seeking, and the beauty of selfless giving, even unto death.
"What shall WE have, therefore?" does not just apply to possessions and positions. It cuts into the roots of every personal desire - every form of self-satisfaction - every gratification to self and pride. Every instance of hurt feelings or offended pride is an outcropping of this universal disease.
Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?