Matthew 20:16 – “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Day laborers were common in Jesus’ day. At that time there were no labor unions and few contract employers. Much can be learned about the principle of rewards from this parable.
An Early Account of a Labor Grievance Being Filed: v. 11-12
When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
1. The discovery is made that life is not always fair .
2. The workers learned that the owner can do anything .
Jesus Makes the Connection Between Work and Eternal Rewards: Matthew 19:16-21
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’
17 Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.’
18 Which ones?’ the man inquired. Jesus replied, Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.’
20 All these I have kept,’ the young man said. What do I still lack?’
21 Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
The Two-Fold Purpose of the Parable:
1. The story reveals the character and nature of God.
A. The principle of the seed .
B. The principle of patience .
C. The principle of rewards .
2. The story contains three warnings for the disciples of Jesus.
A. A warning about a commercial spirit.
B. A warning about a competitive spirit.
C. A warning about a complaining spirit.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I John 5:11-12