In Matthew 20 Jesus gives us a parable that’s full of wonderful images. He paints a scenario from life on the land to teach principles of the kingdom of God.
In this parable He tells of a land owner who owned a vineyard, and needed laborers to work it. I’m guessing harvest was in full swing. He heads to town, to the market, where he knows those looking for work assemble, and five times throughout the day, he hires groups of laborers. He brings people back to his field starting “early in the morning” right up till “the eleventh hour,” with groups starting at the third, sixth, and ninth hours as well.
What can we learn about the kingdom of God from this parable? We must be careful, because each of these “kingdom of God” parables brings out aspects of the kingdom, but they are not meant to be exact descriptions. So without going overboard, let’s jump in for a bit of gleaning. Got your wheel barrow?
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. - Matthew 20:1 NASB
The parable begins with a premise we have lost in our current day. The landowner (the Lord) went to the marketplace (the world) and looked for laborers (those entering the kingdom of God.)
It seems to me those entering the kingdom of God today, often look at it as an escape from work, a place of rest rather than labor. But Jesus speaks of entering into work. In fact this is one paradox of the kingdom.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30 NASB
Take my yoke - carry this burden with me, and you will find rest. You see there is some aspect of rest that come from this labor to which we are called.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not going to equate the kingdom of God with church, but you would expect church to be populated with folks who are part of the kingdom of God. And yet, in many churches, you find the 80-20 rule in effect. 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.
Hey—I get it—there are lots of churches out there that are just building their own empires, and not doing the work the Lord set us to. But the CHURCH is supposed to be about the business of bringing in the harvest, and she needs all hands on deck to get this job done.
Church is not meant to be an entertainment venue, but a vocational school. When the body of Christ gathers, it is supposed to be for the equipping of the laborers, for their encouragement and refreshing, so they can work in the field until the sun sets. It’s allowed to be enjoyable. It’s supposed to be excellent. But the goal is to equip believers—laborers—not entertain those standing idle in the marketplace looking for work.
There’s lot more in this parable, so come back again soon.