SEPTEMBER 21 “Unequal wages” matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the Vineyard
READER 1) ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, READER 2) “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.”
READER 1) So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them,
#2) “Why are you standing here idle all day?”
R #1) They said to him,
R #3)“Because no one has hired us.”
#1) He said to them,
#2) “You also go into the vineyard.”
#1) When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager,
#2) “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.”
#1) When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
# 3) “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”
#1) But he replied to one of them,
#2)“Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
#1) So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’
BACKGROUNDJensen (Preaching Matthew's Gospel) writes:
“In chapters 19 and 20 Jesus begins to address his disciples about the nature of following him and how differently the children of the kingdom live from the normal cultural expectations of the day. These chapters cover such topics as marriage, divorce, celibacy, children, rank, privilege and money!”
Eugene Boring (Matthew, New Interpreter's Bible) offers this introduction to the section Matthew 19:1-20:34: "Instructing the Disciples En Route to the Passion."
Matthew 19:1-26 is quite literally devoted to the new understanding of family (cf. 12:46-50), dealing with the place of divorce, remarriage, celibacy, children, and young people in the new Christian community. Matthew then grounds the radical reversal of cultural understandings called for by inserting …a parable intended to deal with the resentment generated within the community by this grand and gracious reversal (20:1-16). Matthew understands the theme of …the parable to be "the last shall be first and the first last" (19:30; 20:16).
For the church in Matthew’s time there was an issue about new, Gentile converts coming into the community who were not well versed in the Jewish law, etc. Understandably, the more long-term disciples resented this, and the parable was cited as a corrective to such resentment . What is being questioned is the idea of how one is “paid” in the kingdom of God.. not by what one does -- either by doing good deeds or keeping the commandments or working in the vineyard -- but by the graciousness of God. (Jonathan+)
A denarius for a days work does not indicate a generous landowner. It was the minimum wage a family in poverty could exist on.
The word for "think" (nomizo) does not refer so much to a rational process (as logizomai), but "to assume," "to presume," "to suppose," based on what one expects to happen or what is "customary" or the "rule" (which are meanings for the root nomos). Usually such assumptions are wrong as in its other uses in Mt: 5:17; 10:34. (Stoffregen)
SUMMARYTheir complaints, as I see it, are three:
(1) "They assumed they would receive more"
…I don't think their real complaint was as much about the money as the other two listed below.
(2) "You have made them equal to us."
…They make a distinction between "us" and "them" and that "we" are better than "they." "We" deserve more than "they."
(3) "[we] have born the burden of the day and the heat"
They do not see their invitation to work (and wages earned) as a sign of grace, but as a burden to be borne.
BRIAN STOFFREGAN, CROSSMARKS
ROBERT CAPON, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment
“It is the evil eye, you see- the ophthalamos poneros, the eye that loves the darkness of its bookkeeper’s black ink, the eye that cannot stand red ink of unsuccess as it appears in the purple light of grace- that is condemned here. Bookkeeping is the only punishable offense in the kingdom of heaven…for if the world could have been saved by bookkeeping, it would have been saved by Moses, not by Jesus.”
Boring (Matthew, New Interpreter's Bible): "Grace is always amazing grace. Grace that can be calculated and 'expected' (v. 10) is no longer grace. (cf. 22:11-14)" [p. 394]