Today's Reading: Matthew 20:1-16
'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' (Matthew 20:12)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. People like to say that Jesus told parables to use everyday items and situations so people could understand. But when did you ever hear of anyone paying all their workers the same when they all worked different hours? That would surely violate some IRS Law!
Jesus' parables may use earthly items like vineyards and farmers, but they are far from the kind we're familiar with. Rather, His parables, usually with some twist, teach us why God isn't like us and why His grace isn't what we'd expect. It doesn't matter if you've been a Christian your whole life or if you were baptized on your deathbed. You're still a child of God.
Nobody really begrudges someone else getting something good. What makes us mad is when someone who doesn't deserve as much as we do gets the same! God's grace seems like a great thing until you see those other kinds of people who also get forgiveness!
It is for such complainers that Jesus bears the heat of the day and the scorn and shame of the Cross. There, He sheds His blood for the sins of the whole world, for you who like to measure and divvy everything up and see who got what. On the Cross there's no measuring, calculating, statistics, and percentages. There is just the suffering and death of the Lamb of God for all people: big sinners and little sinners--all sinners.
And just so, grace is given out. Whether you are a baby or a deathbed convert, the Lord's grace comes to you in His Word. His forgiveness is there and is given out to young and old, to those who try and those who don't. This is not because we deserve it or have worked enough for it, but because it is His grace, freely given. The parable isn't about "real life" the way the world thinks, but it's about the way things work in God's kingdom, which is the true reality. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O Lord, we implore You favorably to hear the prayers of Your people that we, who are justly punished for our offenses, may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness, for the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Septuagesima)