The direct object of this lesson ( parable ) seems to be, to show that through the Jews ( God’s people ) were first called into the ” vineyard ” ( as God’s service ), at length the Gospel should be preached to the unbelievers ( Gentiles ), and they should be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with the Jews.The lesson may also be applied more generally, and shows the following:
- that God is borrower to no man;
- that many who begin last, and promise little in religion, sometimes, by the blessing of God, arrive at a great deal of knowledge, grace and usefulness;
- that the recompense of reward will be given to the loved one, but not according to the time of their conversion.
Therefore, it describes the state of the visible church ( institution of all denominations ), and explains the declaration in the Book of Matthew 20: 16 “ So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last. ”
This, then, is the great lesson of the parable, and it answers at once the question whether we are to see in it the doctrine of an absolute equality in the supreme happiness ( blessedness ) of the life to come. There also, there will be some first, some last, but the difference of degree will depend, not on the duration of service, nor even on the amount of work done, but on the TEMPER ( a certain type of mode ) and CHARACTER ( a strength of mind and ethical traits marking a person ) OF THE WORKER.
Looking to the event which gave rise to the parable ( Matthew 20: 1 – 15 ), we can scarcely help tracing a latent reference to the ” Young Ruler ” ( see yesterday posting Matthew 19: 21-26 )The disciples had hastily condemned, but in whom the Lord, who ” Loved ” him ( Mark 10: 21 ) saw the possibility of a form of holiness higher than that which they were then displaying, if only he could overcome the temptation which kept him back ( Covetousness or Envy ) when first called to work in His Master’s service ( vineyard ) – Jesus Christ – in His Master’s way. His judgement was even then reversing the disciples’ judgement.
However, the nature of envy here, it is an evil eye, which is displeased at the good of others and desires their hurt. It is a grief to ourselves, disappointing to God, and hurtful to our neighbors. It is a sin, that has neither pleasure, profit, nor honor. Let us do without every proud claim, and seek for salvation as a free gift. Let us never envy or have hard feelings, but rejoice and praise God for his mercy to others as well as to ourselves.