Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

Parable - The labourers in the vineyard    (3/8/2009 1)

The call-on at Londons docklands -1889We are all now realising that the recession is going to make life difficult for many. But before 1967, which saw an end to the practice of casual labour in the London docks and the arrival of regular employment, life was really tough for a dock worker and his family.  

Several times a day there would be a ‘call-on’ at each of the docks when labour was hired for short periods. It was a serious business: if you didn’t get called you could not get work, and if you didn’t work, your family wouldn’t have much to eat.  

At certain times the calling foremen would appear and there would a rush of men forward, with much scrambling and scuffling, as sometimes-desperate would-be workers tried to get themselves recognized and taken on for a week, a day, or even for a few hours.

Imagine the scene on a Friday as the lucky ones opened their pay packets to check the fruits of their labour, each discussing what they had earned that week.

And then one man, who had only started that morning open his packet and shares the good news with his friends – he has received a full week’s pay, just like those who had worked a full week.    Of course his fellow workers are overjoyed at his good fortune and marvel at the generosity of their employer towards this man who had only done a single day’s work...   Yeah, right. More like ‘everybody out’ at the injustice of it.  

Jesus told a similar story about casual labourers in a vineyard in which just this scenario worked out. The workers there had the same predictable response – ‘it’s not fair’.  And it wasn’t.  But Jesus was highlighting the revolutionary nature of God’s grace. And that’s fundamentally ‘unfair’ too.  

Those who have done wrong things in their lives(which includes you and me), perhaps completely wrecked our lives, or even lived out broken lives completely in opposition to Him, can receive forgiveness from him, make a new start and experience ‘life in all its fullness’ now, and share eternity with him hereafter.   

It’s ‘unfair’ that when we put our trust in Jesus, and follow him, it matters not whether we have been followers of Jesus as long as we can remember or only since yesterday, what God has for us is the same – a new start, everlasting life, 'life in all its fullness'.  That’s grace.  It’s not what we deserve, rather it’s what comes from a Father’s heart of love for his children.  

And here the analogy even breaks down. In the story there had been work done for the reward, but in the case of grace, there is no work – no Good Deed, small or great – that we need to do, or can do – it’s all from his love for us, it’s through his ‘unfair’ grace.  

As this song says:  

Nothing you can do
Could make Him love you more
And nothing that you've done
Could make Him close the door
Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come

That’s grace! Do you know that grace? You can know it - even if it's 'Friday afternoon' for you, it's not too late.

Read the original parable in Matthew's account in the New Testament

Listen to the words, and enjoy the song-
So you would come  (MP3)

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