Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16
Epistle: Philippians 1:12-14, 19-30
Lesson: Isaiah 55:6-9
Psalm: Psalm 27:1-9
CLB Commentary – Dr. Eugene Boe
“It just isn’t fair that all are paid the same regardless of the number of hours worked!” This is not an uncommon expression of feelings or belief in our world or even in our selves. It is our nature to focus on what we will get. We are by nature competitive and comparing. We live with one eye on what others are getting. And when they exceed us, jealousy and envy set in.
Jesus spoke this parable in the context of Peter’s question, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27) This parable reveals just how curved in upon ourselves we really are. After all, look what I have given up! Such a way of thinking and believing is not coming out of grace.
But, the parable is also a revelation of the wonderful grace of God. This is a grace that seeks and keeps on seeking. This is a pursuing grace. He didn’t just go out once, but he continued to go. He went out early in the morning. He went out the third hour. He went out the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and the eleventh hour. He went out to the ones that no one would hire. He is there for them. He continues to go out today. Through the preaching of the Gospel the Savior makes His way with all of His gifts to sinners who are outside of the kingdom, living without God and without hope.
This is a “grace alone” grace. It is not grace plus …. Gifts are given not on the basis of what is earned or even on the basis of potential earnings. As Paul states, “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4: 4, 5) The saving gifts of the Savior are freely given and received by faith. Our human performance is excluded. In fact, it is our performance that stands in the way of God’s grace given in Christ Jesus. They all received the same. There were no distinctions. This is what makes grace so offensive. Such a grace does not sit well with the self-righteous.
But, this is also what makes grace so precious and powerful. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) It is for those who have nothing but their sins. But it is indeed for them! Even for sinners at the eleventh hour, there is grace. And this grace is not diminished because of the lateness of the hour, the greatness of their sin, or because of their lack of potential, but it delivers all of Christ. Such is the generous grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.