“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing [a]idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, [b]and whatever is right you will receive.’ 8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they [c]complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For[d] many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:1-18 (NKJV)
The landowner is Jesus. The vineyard is the world and the market place. He went into the world looking for workers, for people who would work for Him. The Lord is seeking those who will work for Him and give their lives for Him in the vineyard. He found people who were idle. Are you idle? You do not know what to do. You do not even know what God wants in your life. When I was 15 years of age, God called me to His work. How can you say you are bored? If you stand still, spiritually, you will go backwards. What is God’s will for your life? I remember when we visited here as young children, we were told to pray and seek God’s face in order to know what the will of God was for our lives. Do you hear that children? What is God’s will for your life? Not your own will or the will of your parents.
Instead of being idle, Jesus says, I beseech[a] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your [b]reasonable service. Romans 12:1 God needs you. Allow Jesus to possess your body as a living sacrifice, full of strength and ability. The Lord needs you. He says I need your body. Won’t you allow me to have you? There are millions out there who seek help and who are dying. There are people who have an indescribable hunger. What do you do with your body? Jesus wants a living body with purged lips, a pure mind and a soul filled with His fire. Don’t you want to be that? He invited the workers to come and work for Him. Wouldn’t you like to work for him? Where do you find yourself? Do you have your own laws, your own ideas? Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
You sin with idle hands and fingers. Idle hands avoid work. A person with idle hands tells others what to do but he does not do it. It can mean laziness. Teach your children what it means to work.
God sets the standard in this parable. He draws a line through everything we think is just. He sets the standard for His kingdom. There are no other words that are so offensive to ethical calculations. It cuts through what we think is just and fair. It violates our instincts about fairness and what is right. Jesus does what He wants and we must be in the right place with the correct attitude. He is fair to the one who starts in the beginning and to those who started late. He says, “Is it not lawful to do what I wish with my own things?” I wonder what the journalists would have said about the Lord Jesus? They would have torn Him to pieces and questioned His injustice.
People could also be idle because there is no work. They would like to work but cannot – the weak, the infirm, the sickly, the disabled, the elderly, criminals or outcasts (those whom the devil has caught up in drugs and destroyed. They are useless to the world, they are nothing.) Jesus looked for these people. He asked them to come. They were invited. Come to My place, come to the Mission. I will make you a worker in the kingdom of God. God is a God who is just and shows special generosity to the poor and outcast. It is the respectable and educated people, who claim a sense of privilege and superiority, who find fault. If you think you are something, heaven will spew you out; you will find yourself on the wrong side. It is not a question of deserving the wages but accepting the invitation.
The people who were invited to work first, complained and grumbled. They felt they deserved more. We are the older ones. We have been here the longest. What was fair and right in their own eyes was totally different to how the Lord viewed the matter. The Lord does not say much to them. He said, “I gave you what we agreed upon.” Nothing has changed. You have changed. You feel you deserve more. Jesus said, “Go your way.” He did not give them more. He did not give in to their demands.
72 of Jesus’s followers could not take the Lord’s saying, it was illogical to them. They left the Lord. If you do not understand what the Lord says, go your way but do not look back. Go and we will see the end.
Today, there seem to be heroes who are running away and everybody thinks they are right.
You realise what waves can do if you have been in the sea. They can knock you so hard that you see stars. When we arrived at the beach one day, we heard an ambulance siren. On inquiry we were told that a European visitor had been swimming in the sea, but the waves took the man and smashed him against the rocks which were hidden under the surface of the water. He was killed by the waves. This is what can be your end.
If you are jealous of what God does for others you have an evil eye. “Look at what has been done and how others have been paid,” but Jesus says, “I have been fair.” Some receive blessings and gifts and God uses them – how do you feel? How do you react? The devil hates what God does for others and the devil uses men to display his anger. Satan hates those who are used by God. If the devil does not attack you, it is because you are worthless. Why are you worried about others? It is your evil eyes. You hate the one God uses.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ Matthew 20:15 This word ‘evil’ pertains to eyes that are envious and malicious. What the eye perceives is evil, otherwise you would see the good in others. God allows things to happen. He wanted to show these workers, who thought they were important, what they were really like inside. He wanted to show them that they complain and they despise. I am more educated. I have a degree. I know how things should go. What your eye perceives you speak about.
One day an old, wise man walked down the street when all of a sudden, a man ran up to him and said, “I have to tell you something about your friend who…”
“Hold on,” said the wise man interrupting him, “regarding the story you are about to tell me, did you put it through three sieves?”
“Three sieves?” the man asked. “What three sieves?”
“The first sieve is the one of truth. Did you examine what you were about to tell me – if it is true?” the wise man asked. (Did you do your homework regarding the person? Did you speak to that person personally?)
“Well no, I was just told it,” the man said. (If you do not go to the source, you have missed the mark. Go and speak to the person)
“Ah, well then, have you used the second sieve, the sieve of good?” the wise man asked. “Is it something good you’re about to tell me?”
“Um, no, on the contrary…” the man answered.
“Hmm,” the wise man said. “Let us use the third sieve then. Is it necessary to tell me?”
“No, it is not necessary,” replied the man.
“Well,” the wise man said with a smile, “if the story you’re about to tell me isn’t true, good or necessary, just forget it and don’t bother me with it.”
If you believe a lie, your life is a lie and the devil is the father of liars. What is your secret life like? What is your bedroom life like? Is your relationship with your husband or your wife clean according to the standards of God? Maybe you leave your wife for someone else – is this God’s standard? You want the opposite sexes to mix but this is not God’s standard.
Maybe you write a lot. Much has been written. Maybe you write in your heart and mind where people cannot see. Let me tell you that you have not written enough. Write more. Fill your cup. It is dangerous because you do not know when your cup will be full in God’s eyes.
Judas filled his cup. He thought he was fighting the right battles. When it was full the Lord said that is enough.
Is your eye evil? You only see the wrong in others. In our home where we grew up, one of the doors had multi-coloured glass panes. When one looked through the red block, everything on the other side was red. If one looked through the green block everything was green. That is what an evil eye is like. In our text, the Lord used money to reveal the evil eye. There is a thread throughout this incident – wages, money. An evil eye is one that is envious and when a person becomes envious, he becomes malicious and then he tries to destroy and break down. If you look at someone and these evil feelings rise within you, you have an evil eye.
Conclusion Detlef Stegen
We thank the Lord for clarity and that He speaks in ways above our understanding. We see how vital it is that we listen to Christ’s words and not to the words that your eyes or your heart speak. When Jesus stood before Pilate he said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37 Pilate asked, “What is truth?” He would have saved his life had he listened to the Truth. From history we know that he never found peace.
In reference to the unequal salary: when Jesus was crucified, a criminal was there with him. In the last hour he asked for mercy and because of his plea, Jesus said he would be with Him in paradise. We do not complain about that last hour. We thank God because Jesus was crucified for this criminal to turn to Him in the last hour.
Paul said For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 When the prodigal son returned home, his older brother was not happy about the rejoicing in his home because of his younger brother who had wasted all that he had worked for together with his father. It is dangerous if we do not hear what the Father says, if we do not allow the cross to do its work, if we are not prepared to be crucified with Christ.
Jesus asked these people who were very pious, correct, knowledgeable and who had common sense about what they should have earned. He asked them, “Do you have a bad eye because of my goodness?” May the lord have mercy on those who turn from their bad eye. We wish to have those with good eyes and may God sift even more, so that those with good eyes will see the goodness of God and the justice of Christ.
Introduction in English/Zulu
Introduction in German