The discussion in the Forum yesterday was quite lively. Understandings and opinions varied widely. Karl Jacobson, in his commentary on this parable for WorkingPreacher.org reminded us “A parable is essentially an elaborate allegory. We are invited to see ourselves in the story, and then apply it to ourselves.” I invite you to re-read the parable. Then I invite you to consider Jacobson’s commentary as you see yourself in the story and apply it to yourself.
We covet what God chooses to give to others. A parable is essentially an elaborate allegory. We are invited to see ourselves in the story, and then apply it to ourselves. The wages at stake (even at the moment of Jesus’ first telling of the parable) are not actual daily wages for vineyard-laborers, but forgiveness, life, and salvation for believers. We need not literally be laborers in a vineyard, as we are all of us co-workers in the kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:9).
And in relationship, one believer to another, covetousness is a problem. The point here isn’t necessarily that other folks receive blessings from God that we don’t — that they get more or better or lovelier gifts from God. The problem is that they get the same as us; and they don’t deserve it, do they? They are less worthy, or later arrivals, or just plain worse sinners. They don’t deserve the same as we get, do they? Not nothing maybe, but certainly not the same. The parable’s day laborers parallel perfectly with today’s forgiven-sinners in both our pews and pulpits.
We have a tendency, as the parable aptly illustrates, to covet and to be resentful of what others receive from God. The owner of the vineyard asks those who have worked longest and (presumably) hardest for him, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” The point is that God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness are God’s to give away as God sees fit.
Read the entire post at WorkingPreacher.org. “Gospel” for September 18, 2011
What do you hear in this parable? What do you feel as you listen to the story and apply it yourself and journey into the Kingdom of God where the first are last and the last are first? Leave a comment, continue the conversation.