Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 31:30-32:27; Matthew 20:1-16
Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:15-16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. At some point in our childhood we’ve probably all played the “opposite game”. You know the rules: up is down; yes is no; near is far, and so on.
In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, it seems like Jesus is playing the opposite game with us, too. Only it’s not a game; it’s simply how Jesus works. The lost are found. The least are greatest. The poor in spirit are rich in His grace. The weak are strong. The humble are exalted. The dead are raised up. Sinners are forgiven freely in Jesus crucified and risen. Or, as Jesus says in this parable, “the last will be first.”
Jesus’ way, the way of the cross, sounds absolutely outrageous to our sinful flesh and the world. In this life, “if you’re not first, you’re last; make that list and check it twice; last one to the playground is a rotten egg.” Our sinful flesh loves to talk about fairness and getting what we deserve because we think (foolishly) that we deserve something good from God.
Thank God He’s not fair! Thank God He doesn’t give us the punishment and death sentence we deserve, but rather gives His undeserved grace and His steadfast love. Jesus, who is first, became last, so that we who are last become first in Him.
At the end of the day, all the laborers received the same wage. They didn’t get what they deserved. Neither do we. In Jesus, we get something far better. Jesus took what we deserved: death, judgment, and God’s wrath, so that we get what we don’t deserve: life, forgiveness, and eternal joy. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. -Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz
Thine the kingdom Thine the prize Thine the wonderful surprise Thine the banquet then the praise Then the justice of Thy ways Thine the glory Thine the story Then the welcome to the least Then the wonder all increasing at Thy feast at Thy feast. (Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise, LSB 680:4)