37th Worship Service

Gospel Home “Glory”
7 September 2008 37th Worship Service
216-2 Mikubo, Aso TEL0967-32-2563

God is not fair!?
Matthew 20:1~16

Have you ever wondered if God is unfair? Or has anyone around you accused God of being unfair? Like, if God is just and full of love, why is there so much suffering and injustice in the world? Why is there such widespread poverty, children dying of hunger and curable diseases, wars and genocide, ethnic cleansing?

Why is Jesus the only way to heaven? Aren’t there so many good people who believe in other religions or even no religion? Why doesn’t God reward good people and punish bad people? Why even among Christians, some very faithful people suffer a lot, and even dye prematurely?

If God is God of love and justice, why do these things happen?

When we ask this question, we are in the seat of judge. We believe we have the right to judge the creator of the universe.

Now let’s turn to today’s passage. This is one of those parables that make us wonder what on earth Jesus intended to tell us. But often times these parables hide beneath their surface the greatest truths about God and the kingdom of heaven.

Here the householder is God, and the workers are us. That’s easy to see. The householder gave the first workers, who worked for 12 hours, a denarius. A denarius is a typical wage for a day’s work. Let’s say that is about 100 dollars. Then, that is about 8 dollars per hour. The last workers, who worked only one hour, also received 100 dollars. One hundred dollars per hour! No wonder those who worked 12 hours complained! Wouldn’t you? When you are in a position to pay to others, you wouldn’t dream of doing such thing, would you? Otherwise, you would surely be accused of being unfair.

What is the point of this parable? Is God unfair? Is he capricious? What did he himself say? In verse 15, he says, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”

The kingdom of heaven operates under a very different system from our world. Those who are rich, powerful, beautiful, talented, smart, are valued and rewarded. Those who are poor, weak, unattractive, simple, are despised and unrewarded. In our world, more work, more pay, less work less pay. If we work, we expect to be paid. We have a right to claim a reward for our work. We deserve a reward for what we have done.

But in God’s kingdom, our achievement counts very little. And we must be very thankful for that. Because if the kingdom of heaven operates under the right and reward system, we all owe to God far too much more than we can claim reward from Him. Our sin is far greater than whatever we have achieved for God.

The good news is that God has decided to let His son pay for our debt of sin, and let us off the hook of penalty. Why, because He loves so much. When acknowledge what God has done for us through Jesus, we receive a ticket to heaven. It’s not because, we earned it or deserve it, it’s all because of God’s generous love, which called grace.

We need to remember this important principle in God’s kingdom, which appear again and again the New Testament. In the verse 16, Jesus says, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” Those who think they are the first—think that they deserve to go to heaven, they deserve to receive a reward—watch out! You will be the least in the kingdom. You don’t deserve anything in the kingdom of heaven. It’s all God’s grace. Those who are the last—those who know their weakness, their sinfulness, their helplessness, their dependence on God’s grace—welcome to God’s kingdom. It is for such people.

Why did the householder deliberately pay the last workers first, and the first workers last? Jesus wanted us to know exactly where we stand in our relationship with God. Who we are and who He is.

Do you feel weak? Do you feel your faith is not as solid as it should be? Acknowledge that your faith is dependent on God. It is not on your strength.

God is the God of love. He seeks his sheep until the last hour. The workers in this parable were not seeking Him. But He went after them, and invited them to come to Him. We are all invited and we can receive what we can never earn or deserve.

Let’s pray.

At this church, everyone is encouraged to participate in the communion if they have confessed their faith in Jesus as their personal savior. If you have not, we ask you to wait until then so that the communion will be truly meaningful to you.

Matthew 26 [26] Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” [27] And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; [28] for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.