Matthew 20:1-16

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.




Many of Jesus’ parables include people who work the land and their employees. He told this story to illustrate that God’s idea of rewards does not equate to that of people. People who wanted work for the day would gather at the market place in the early morning (about 06h00). The men the vineyard owner employed agreed to work for a denarius, which was the accepted wage for a day’s labour.

The landowner continued to hire more men through the day. The third hour was about 09h00, the sixth about midday, and the ninth about 15h00. He was surprised to find people still wanting work at these later hours for he had plenty and he wanted the harvest to be completed before the rains came and ruined the crops. So he hired even those who could only work for an hour.

Whilst the owner promised the first workers a denarius for their work throughout the day, he made no specific promise to the other workers, other than that he would pay them ‘what was right’.

When it came time to pay the workers, the steward was instructed to pay those who were employed in the evening first. These men, who had worked for only an hour, were paid for a full day’s work! Those who had worked for more than that thought they would now receive more. The order of payment was important. It gave time for the men who had been employed first to develop a sense of their own superiority over those who had been employed later. They were sure they would receive more.

But then they were given their wages, and the sum was exactly what had been promised them. They were indignant and complained to their employer. They had worked throughout the day and yet had only received the same amount as those who had worked for one hour. Whilst some may feel sympathy for them, the landlord was realistic. He had offered the early workers one denarius. He had paid them one denarius. He had kept his word. It was his right to decide what he should pay those who had been employed late in the day. He did not explain his reasoning. It was his own property – and it was his right to decide how to use it by paying everyone the same wage. He questioned the envy and umbrage of the early workers.

The closing sentences of this parable were directed at the disciples. They knew they had given up a great deal to follow Jesus. Peter had asked what was in it for them. Jesus assured them they would be rewarded, but probably not in the way they expected.

Jesus may also have indicated how people come to God at different times of their lives. Some know Him as they grow up; for others it may be a last minute decision on their death beds. However it is understood this is a parable of grace and reward. God will reward His people in His way, not necessarily in the way people consider any one person deserves as a result of the length or quality of their service. God’s grace means He rewards people according to who He is, not who people are. No one in the parable was treated unfairly, although some may have received a greater blessing than others. However, whatever blessing God gives, it is entirely due to His grace and not to anyone’s efforts to earn rewards. Being called and being chosen are both gifts of God’s grace.

Meditation Moments

Day 1

Read Acts 2:42

How much time do you spend listening to teaching and experiencing fellowship to enhance your faith? How often do you share in Holy Communion? What amount of time do you spend in prayer? Ask God to show you how to do this in order to deepen your sense of community with Him and with others.

Day 2

Read Acts 2:43

What wonders and signs have you seen God perform recently? How did you feel about them? How do you feel if you have not noticed anything in the last few days? Ask God to open your eyes, mind and heart that you may see the wonders that surround you.

Day 3

Read Acts 2:44

How often do you gather with other believers? What does their company mean to you? How do you let them know what they mean to you? Tell those who are special to you in your faith what they mean to you.

Day 4

Read Acts 2:45

How willing are you to give sacrificially to others who are in need? Ask God to guide you in this regard.

Day 5

Read Acts 2:46-47

What do you do to worship and praise God on the days when you do not attend church (ie during the week)? How does your lifestyle stand out from those who are not Christ-followers? What makes you different? Spend some time asking God to grow your church community so others can say ‘I am because I belong’.

Group Discussion


What holiday jobs did you do when you were at school? How did you feel about the wages you earned, if any?


  • Having experienced lockdown, what does the community of Gracepoint mean to you? Are you happy to be back, worshipping with others? Has it been a struggle for you to make the change from watching online to return to the sanctuary? Are you still watching from home? Do you feel part of the Gracepoint community, however you worship now?
  • What does it mean to live in community? What difference does it make to the way you relate to God? And to others? How important is community to you?
  • What has happened in your life whilst you have worshipped at Gracepoint to make you feel part of the Gracepoint community? What have you done to help others? What have others done to help you? How has this community impacted your life?
  • What does the statement ‘I am because I belong’ mean to you? At church, at work, in the family? How would you explain the meaning of these words to someone who is not familiar with them?
  • How do you contribute to the church to give a sense of community to others who worship here? What do you actually do to serve here? How do you feel about your level of service? Are you overburdened, or could you do more? Why do you respond in this way?
  • What commissions do you think would be a blessing to those who live in the Gracepoint area? How could you become involved in such commissions? Nominate one person in the group to send your ideas through to the church.
  • Jesus’ teaching often touches our hearts whilst being illogical to our minds. How do you feel about this parable How is God touching your heart today through the teaching Jesus gave to His disciples so long ago?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?


Pray that God will fill the hearts of the Gracepoint community with overwhelming love for one another and those around them. Pray for the new commissions that will come into being under God’s leadership. Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.


How can you step out of your comfort zone to serve in a new way this week? Report back to one another next week and ask the person who passed on your commission ideas to share any response they received from the church.


Matthew Chapter 20

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