An Abundant Heart


This Week's Scripture:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.  When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’  They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.  Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.  And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’  But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’  So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

— Matthew 20:1-16



Once again, Jesus tells us a story about the kingdom of heaven, but this time, the story reveals more about the KING of the kingdom than about the kingdom.  Also, the parable is more than a story about justice or fairness, but rather a story of abundant grace and mercy for ALL.  We can see the landowner in the parable as a self-portrait of Jesus.

If we follow the landowner through the parable, he can be exhausting to keep up with!  Every couple of hours he is making the trek from his vineyard to the marketplace and back again, seeking for any and every worker who can come work in his vineyard.  At the end of the parable, the landowner admits that he is generous, and his generosity is overwhelming in abundance:  the abundance of his seeking and inviting, the abundance of his vineyard which must be huge to accommodate so many workers, and finally the abundance of ensuring that every worker has his “daily bread.”

When we see this as a parable of the kingdom of heaven and Jesus as the king, then we know that King Jesus and his kingdom are also overwhelmingly abundant.  We can discover the abundance of Jesus’ seeking and inviting all, the abundance of the kingdom of heaven with room for all, and finally the abundance of grace and mercy for all.


Reflect on this week’s scripture.  Are there any words or ideas that especially resonate with you or challenge you?  Are there other twists to this parable that you see?

The payment each worker receives is the amount needed for one day of providing for one’s family. It is literally one’s “daily bread.” With this in mind, read the parable: from the point of view of those hired first, those hired at noon, those hired at three, those hired at five, the manager of the vineyard, and finally from the point of view of the landowner. What do these different perspectives reveal to you about the parable and the people in it?

Right before he tells this story, Jesus says, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”  (Matthew 19:30) He ends this story with So the last will be first, and the first will be last.  What does this saying tell you about the kingdom of heaven and your own faith life?

There is no real ending to the parable.  We don’t know how the different workers responded to the landowner at the end.  How do you think the story could/would/should end? 


God of the Vineyard,

Thank you that you seek for me and invite me to your abundant generosity.

May I bless others with that same generous abundance.