Questions for Pondering — september 24, 2017
Sermon Title: Be the church: share with joy
Sermon Text: Matthew 20:1-16
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These 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.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
16th Sunday after Pentecost
There are several passages in the bible that seem to demand more of us than we think we are capable of doing. This parable challenges our sense of right and wrong and makes us question the very core of our belief that we are good people. The story asks of us to be more than ourselves and to be better than we ever thought we could be. The story of the landowner showing generosity to those who could not find work all day turns upside down everything we have learned as children about fairness.
Questions to Ponder:
- In the parable, the landowner pays everyone the same amount. Is this fair? Shouldn’t the one who worked the longest get paid the most? Even if the man was showing generosity, why were the late hires the ones to receive it? Shouldn’t that generosity be shared equally with everyone? What is the real message of this parable?
- How would you respond if you were the one hired early in the day? Would you respond in the same way if you were the one who was hired at the end of the day? Have you been in a situation where you have responded in the way the landowner has done? What would it take for you to do so?