Archive for category God’s Generosity

Matthew 20 :1-16 The Workers in the Vineyard

Parables are comparisons in which spiritual truth is pictured in vivid terms (Blomberg 1990). “Jesus’ invitation to enter his Kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching (Cf. Mk 4:33-34).

The Parable that was just read is commonly known as the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Mark Bailey calls this parable, “A day on the job in the kingdom of God.” (because the work takes place throughout the day and the payroll is at the end of the day.)

The parable emphasizes the times that the laborers were hired. The Landowner hired laborers early in the morning (6:00) and made an agreement with them to pay them a denarius for the day’s work. It says the owner agreed which makes me think the workers asked for the denarius and he agreed to it.

The Landowner went out again at 9:00, 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 and asked others if they would like to come to work without indicating what they would earn, only that he would be fair (vs. 4). If the first guy is going to get 1 denarius for 12 hours work, what do you expect the 2nd group to get? 3/4, then 1/2 then 1/4 and then 1/12th respectively.

At the end of the day, the Landowner went to pay them and started with the last group. He gave them each 1 denarius. What do you expect the next group to get? Three denarii. The next group six, and the next nine and the first group that was hired expects to get 12 denarii. But he gave everyone the same amount – one denarius – regardless of whether they had worked one hour or twelve hours.

It is not surprising therefore, that those were hired first complained and accused the owner of being unfair.

But the owner justifies his actions:

  • on the basis of agreement – they agreed to work for a denarius. The owner calls him “friend” which in Matt is not a term of endearment.
  • on the basis of ownership – can I do what I want with what is mine?
  • on the basis of generosity – can I be gracious to whom I want to be gracious?

Again, is the landowner unjust or unfair? Certainly not. The landowner is just when he paid them all individually with the same amount or salary because that was the thing agreed upon by the landowner and the labourers. The landowner is generous, compassionate and merciful when he paid them all individually with the same amount regardless of of whether they had worked one hour or twelve hours. Simply stated, the landowner is not unjust. Rather he is both just and gracious or compassionate or merciful.

This is the message and the challenge for all of us who are adopted children of God: to be just yet gracious, merciful and compassionate. “Mercy without justice is baloney. Justice without mercy is tyranny.”

“Grace and mercy are both expressions of God’s love, grace to the guilty and undeserving, mercy to the needy and helpless” (John Stott, The Letters of John). Let us, therefore, be merciful as Jesus is merciful (Lk 6:36) for “whoever acts without mercy will be judged without mercy” (James 2:13).May we have mercy on all, especially to those who are going through a time when they are given little or no mercy.

Prayer: Father, may I love those considered unlovable.

Advertisements

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Lk 19:1-10 Zacchaeus The Tax Collector

Jesus knew the name of  Zacchaeus  [Luke 19:5]

Clearly, Jesus and Zacchaeus had never met. Yet, Jesus calls him out of the sycomore tree by name. If the Lord knew the name of this short, tree-climbing publican, you can be assured that he knows your name, even if your behavior is more like a tall, well-dressed Pharisee. The Lord knows your name. He knows your struggles. He feels your pain. He wants you to come down from your tree, welcome him into your home, and join him in a spiritual feast.

“One of my favorite examples of the Savior’s intimate knowledge of a person, and his kindness toward him, is the story of Zacchaeus…What a special honor for this man who was wealthy, chief among the publicans, and who consequently had undoubtedly received much scorn and abuse in his community. (SeeLuke 19:7.)

“I am personally convinced that the Lord is aware of each of us. I have felt his sustaining influence on many occasions during trials in my life. Whether experiencing fear after a painful knee injury in the mission field, loneliness during a traumatic separation from my family to serve in Vietnam, or an awful hollow numbness following the death of a beloved companion, I have found no balm so soothing as the sweet, peaceful, comforting assurance that comes from divine whisperings, ‘Be still,’ ‘Be calm,’ ‘I am here,’ ‘I know.’” (David A. Whetten, “Sir, We Would See Jesus,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 5–6)

+++

Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”  [Lk 19:6]

“At a certain point in my life, I realized that, like Zacchaeus of Jericho, I needed to come down from the sycomore tree, where I was merely watching Jesus pass on the road, and let him come into my house. That was when I began to understand the meaning and power of grace.

“What I needed is illustrated in the story of Zacchaeus. (See Luke 19:2–10.)…. Zacchaeus was short and couldn’t see over the crowd, so he climbed a sycomore tree that grew beside the road. As Jesus passed under the tree, he looked up, saw Zacchaeus, and said to him, ‘Make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.’ (Luke 19:5.)

“Zacchaeus did come down to receive the visit of Jesus, and before that life-changing visit was over he said, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.’

“Seeing Zacchaeus’ remarkable change of heart, Jesus said, ‘This day is salvation come to this house…For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ (Luke 19:8–10.)…When Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus into his house and his life, he opened himself to an influence that would make of him a different man. As President Ezra Taft Benson said, ‘When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed.’ (Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 5.)

“We may not be privileged, as were Zacchaeus and his contemporaries, to walk and sit and talk with the Master in the flesh, but He nevertheless offers us a companionship as intimate as we could wish for. He said to John the Revelator, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ (Rev. 3:20.)” (Colin B. Douglas, “What I’ve Learned about Grace Since Coming Down from the Sycomore Tree,” Ensign, Apr. 1989, 13–14)

+++

Zacchaeus was seeking to see who Jesus was. This is Zacchaeus’ original intention. The story ends with Jesus seeking Zacchaeus and with the short Zacchaeus standing tall with Jesus.

God is indeed generous with his grace. We ask for a meal, God sends us a feast. We pray for rain, God gives us a good harvest. We pray for forgiveness, God gives us tremendous blessings. There are no small portions from the Lord, only graces shaken, pressed down, and running over.

Be ready to be overwhelmed by the Lord. He not only taps us on our backs but also lifts us up. He not only shakes our hands but also embraces us. John Paul II, when at his last breath, exclaimed, “Lord, I was looking for you, now you found me!” The Lord gives only generously and gratuitously, no other way!

Indulge in a hearty meal with your family today.

, , ,

Leave a comment