“Loving Kindness Enables Us Rejoicing to the End 恩情使我們能笑到最後“（Matthew 馬太福音 20:8-16）
… the owner of the vineyard … 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. … who were hired first … expected to receive more. But … also received a denarius. … began to grumble against the landowner. … But he answered … “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? … 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.
… 園主 … 把工人叫來，給他們工錢，從最後的開始，到最先來的。那些下午五點鐘才開始作工的人來了，每個人都領到一個銀幣。最先作工的人 … 以為會多得一點，但 … 也是領到一個銀幣。… 就埋怨家主 … 家主回答 … 說：‘朋友，我並沒有虧待你。你我不是講定了一個銀幣嗎？… 我給那後來的和給你的一樣，是我的主意。難道我不可以照自己的主意用我的財物嗎？還是因為我仁慈你就嫉妒呢？’因此，在後的將要在前，在前的將要在後。
Lord Jesus used this parable of the vineyard owner/workers to answer Peter’s question on what the reward in following Him would be in Matthew 19:27: firstly, a promise of reward (19:28); secondly, a warning that God’s manner of distributing reward is not necessarily human manner (19:30); and here finally an illustration on the principle that God’s manner of rewarding is not the same as men expect. The owner did exactly as promised but the workers’ supposition of more pay than promised was disappointed. The reasons for the owner’s generosity were completely in the owner himself, not in the ones who received. ‘The last will be first, and the first will be last’ (20:16) is the essence of God’s grace, when He rewards and blesses man according to His will and pleasure, not necessarily according to what men deserve (the system of law).
Prayer: Gracious and Loving Father, the system of grace is often foreign to us: you deal with us according to who you are, not according to who we are. Thank you for assuring us that we should expect to be rewarded. Help us not to be surprised if, when rewards are distributed, you will reward others in unexpected ways because your grace which always operates righteously does not give us more blessing than we deserve, i.e. completely apart from the principle of deserving. Amen.