Daniel Fast 2023

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Message Text

Matthew 20:1-16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Message Notes

1. Realize who’s doing the hiring.

Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
The workers in this story are standing around waiting to be hired. They were not the ones providing jobs.

2. We start out happy with grace.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.2He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.”

Everything seems fine if we all get hired at the same time and everyone is doing the same amount of work. It feels good when everything seems fair and just in our eyes. We like it when grace fits our culture.

3. Grace really is unmerited.

‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
The reality of unmerited grace is that God came to us. John writes,“the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Christmas story is about God coming to us. We were and are standing around waiting.

4. The unfairness of it all

8“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ 9“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.12‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

Never compare pay.

The reality is at some point we all got hired at the end of the the day and received pay we did not deserve. In the kingdom there will always be people working in the heat of the day and those receiving grace without working.

5. Applaud the Unfairness

Psalm 103:10-14 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
I can be thankful God does not treat me as my sin deserves no matter where I am in the story.