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Matthew 20:1-16

It's Not Too Late

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • January 26, 2020

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

It’s Not Too Late

Matthew 20:1-16

Illus. Why go now?

This morning we are going to study a parable that centers on the subject of eternity. The word “parable” means literally, “to place something alongside of something else.” When Jesus gives a parable, He placed a reality in the world, or on earth, and places it alongside, or likens it, to spiritual reality. Each time we are asking just how the parable relates to the kingdom of heaven, to the way of the way maker.  It is a comparison, of a natural thing alongside the supernatural, often showing many spiritual truths, and this morning we are going to study the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, which depicts the reality of eternity, and its availability to all who answer the call, no matter the day, no matter the hour, it’s not too late.

Read: Matthew 20:1-16

This parable comes on the heels of a question posed to Jesus, “who can be saved?” (Mt. 19:25) To which Jesus responded, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (19:26).

Peter follows Jesus’ declaration up with a question centering on the status of the disciples, “We have left everything, what will there be for us?” and Jesus assures Peter that for him and the disciples there will be plenty,  and in verses 29 to 30 reveals that “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for [Jesus’] name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first

Peter’s question is one that is important, but not just for the disciples, for you and I personally. Any and every person who comes to Christ will likely ask the question similarly, “what about me?” The question centers on His grace poured out on you, impossible personally, but given by grace through faith, for all eternity.

Peter and the disciples had given up everything, they had come to Christ at the very moment He called, and perhaps that is your story as well. The moment He called you came, at His first request, you responded. Others, have yet to respond and are perhaps wondering “is it too late?” Perhaps you have waited and stalled, ignored His call, or walked away thinking “perhaps another day.” Yet, there is a question in your mind as to whether it is now too late. Whether He will welcome you in if today you turn to Him, and respond to His call.

If that is you, I want to encourage you and remind you that you can respond to Jesus and when you do He will welcome you in. You, like Peter, may be asking “what about me” and my prayer is that this morning you will see the reality of God’s mercy. Lamentations 3:22-23 speaks about God’s mercies that are new every morning.

2 Corinthians 6:2, Today is the day of salvation.

I.   Let God Determine Your Direction

Matthew 20:1-2

  • The landowner went out early in the morning to the marketplace, which was a gathering place for day laborers. The laborers would go and gather in a designated place and wait for a landowner to come hire them.
  • We know that they were in hot weather, and in warmer months at the harvest time in the Middle East, the day began at 6am and would end at 6pm. It was a 12-hour work day. And the scene depicted would be a common one, laborers standing mulling around the marketplace in hopes someone would hire them.
  • The first laborers were hired at an agreed upon wage. The agreed upon wage was a denarius for the 12-hour work day.
  • This was the usual daily wage and those the landowner meets at 6am agree upon a daily wage and are sent out into the vineyard to begin working.

Matthew 20:3-4

  • The third hour, nine in the morning, the owner went back into town, looking for more workers.
  • Those the landowner saw standing idle waiting to be called upon, he called, and they too were sent into his vineyard.
  • Whatever is right I will give to you,” no negotiation was needed or put in place, they were willing to receive from him whatever was right.

Matthew 20:5-7

  • At the sixth hour (12pm), and the ninth hour, (3pm), the landowner went back to the marketplace and did the same thing. Finding those who were ready to go, but standing idle waiting for the call.
  • And at the very end of the day, the 11th hour (5pm), with the workday ending at six o’clock, the landowner wend back to find others looking to be called upon, those standing idle.
  • The landowner went out and found others “standing around,” the reason they were still standing around in the 11th hour was that no one had hired them.
  • Why exactly they weren’t hired up to that point is unclear and irrelevant to the parable. What is clear is that upon being found by the landowner, even in the 11th hour, they were hired.
  • The disposition of the different groups is also of note. They all seem to be standing idle, the last group Jesus finds was standing idle, all day.
  • That they were in the marketplace shows that they were interested in work but were standing around, standing idle, with nowhere to go.
  • We recognize this spiritually as well. Apart from God’s gracious call, we are standing around idle, nowhere to go.
  • Apart from Christ, His direction and definition, life account to little more than standing around in the marketplace.
  • But when we respond to the call of Christ, He gives purpose and direction. A declaration according to His amazing grace that you were once idle and lost, but now found with a direction determined by His victorious declaration of your life.

1 Corinthians 15:57, Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

  • When found, they followed. They knew that there was nowhere else to go.

John 6:68, Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

Illus. I don’t know where to go.

  1. Desire What Only He Can Deliver

Matthew 20:8-12

  • After hiring workers throughout the day, all the way up to the 11th hours, all the of laborers were called in, in order to receive their pay.
  • Beginning with the last group hired and ending with the first group, they were all paid.
  • The payment they all received, was the same payment, a denarius. But those who were hired first were upset.
  • After seeing that everyone was paid the same wage, those who worked only one hour and those who would twelve hours in the “scorching heat,” those who worked twelve hours were offended and grumbled at the land owner because they expected more.

Matthew 20:13-16

  • The landowner addresses the spokesperson by calling him “Friend,” and reminds that he has done no wrong, they had agreed to a denarius and that is exactly what was given.
  • The first group was told they would be paid a denarius, the groups that followed were told they would be paid what was “right.” The last group, was simply told to “go.”
  • In the context of eternity, we then ask the question, how “what is right” is determined.
  • Some might think it is based upon the work they have done, but with Jesus it is according to the work He has done.
  • None were treated unfairly, however, some were treated with “unreasonable” generosity.
  • That is what the kingdom of heaven is like. God’s grace is not limited by our ideas of fairness. What He gives, beyond what we could ever deserve.
  • When it comes to salvation in Christ, everyone gets what they don’t deserve.
  • The point is, that eternity is not a wage earned, or paid to those who earned it. If God paid us our wages, we would not want them.

Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:54-58, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Illus. The sting is gone.

  • The wages and sting of sin is death…But God gives the free gift of eternal life. Be steadfast immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, your toil is not in vain.
  • Just be faithful to what He has called you to. Leave the results up to Him.
  • Desire what only He can deliver. And what He can deliver is salvation, it’s not based upon your time in, it based what we find in Him.

John 6:27-29, Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal. Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

  • The parable points us to the reality that some come to Jesus and receive Him early in life, serving Him many years. Other in the middle of their life, others late in life, and still others, on their dying day.

Luke 23:42-43, Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

  • This parable speaks to the reality that no matter what hour of the day, Jesus can and will make a way.
  • The thief was in the 11th hour, Jesus in response to his turning to Jesus, realizing who he was next to, that it was Jesus, the Savior. Upon realizing it, he asked Jesus to remember him.
  • What happened in his life up to that point, the wandering, the deeds he had done that delivered him to his rightful place of death. Jesus saved Him, and it was sealed with a promise… “You shall be with me today in Paradise.”
  • Perhaps you are like the one who has been standing around and you recognize it is the 11th hour, perhaps you have told yourself it is too late.

Romans 10:13, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Hebrew 3:15, Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…

  1. Answer the Call

Psalm 90:12, Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

  • This Psalm, written by a man named Moses, encourages us, when we understand the fail nature of humanity and the righteous God, to give us wisdom in understanding the shortness of life.
  • There is much that we take stock of and keep count of, but are we aware that our days are numbered. When we are, we understand that where we are is not where we will be.

Job 14:1, Man who is born of woman is few of days and full of trouble.

Psalm 39:5, Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.

James 4:14, Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

C.S. Lewis, It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.

Illus. How close?

Illus. Memorial.

Matthew 20:1-16 
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ They *said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He *said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ So the last shall be first, and the first last.”


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