“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard” (Matt 20: 1).
Here, Jesus is telling that the kingdom of heaven is like this landowner who has hired men for work. It is just not that he hired them only early in the morning, but he went on to take more people in for work, i.e. four more times during the course of the day. The last recruitment of people happened at 5.00 pm, when the work hours had almost come to an end and there was only an hour left.
If we are to only look at the action of the landowner, irrespective of whether the workers standing at the marketplace deserved work or even the wages for that matter, he exhibits to us his gracious nature. Jesus is trying to tell that the Kingdom of Heaven is similar to this landowner, who is Gracious.
In the scriptures, we can see the pride of the Jews in claiming that they alone are the children of God (Matt 3: 9). Even disciples had this assumption that because they were closer to Jesus, they had the assurance of being in Heaven, and they only need to figure the place of honor that they would occupy (Matt 20: 20 – 28). But Jesus is pointing out that Kingdom of Heaven is for anyone he invites at anytime. Anybody could enter it, even at the last moment, only if they accept his gracious invitation.
Church is a community which should represent the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth. Is the church willing to accept everyone into the community of God? Or does the church of today have reservations, legalistic rules and other confines, which become a stumbling block for others to enter into His realm.
Doesn’t the word instruct every Christian to be an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven and to live a life which shows grace unto others? Or do we still lead our lives and behave like we are the only inheritors of His Kingdom? Let’s introspect.
Jesus makes an interesting statement, “the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt 20: 16).
So, let us not take pride in being called ‘Christians’ and boost our egos so much to deny God’s grace to others.