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Matthew 20

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

What are the lessons to be learned by this parable where the Lord of the vineyard rewarded those who worked all day the same as he rewarded those who worked part of the day?

The first thing I notice is that he made the wages of all the workers known. Today, most companies keep the wages of their employees private. Obviously, keeping them private reduces complaints even though it often increases suspicion of favoritism. But this man could defend his business practices. Publishing the salaries of all employees would require employers to be fair or at least to be able to defend their salary practices. While the employee might be uncomfortable having others know his salary, no one would know all of his affairs. If he were hired with the understanding that his salary would be posted publicly, I doubt that it would be a problem to him. Many governmental salaries are a matter of public record and that doesn’t seem to create any problems finding people for these jobs.

The second thing I notice is that our competitive sinful natures leave us unhappy when we should be rejoicing. Those who worked all day got what they were promised. They got what they had agreed to get. When those who worked part of the day, got more than they likely expected because they had trusted the Lord to give them what was right, the other workers should have been glad for them. Instead, they felt that they had been treated unfairly. This just proves that most of us need our thinking adjusted. We need to think about how God has blessed us and how he has fulfilled his promises to us. We need to spend less time comparing ourselves to others. We also need to recognize that there is more blessing in trusting the Lord than in bargaining with Him.

The third thing I believe this parable teaches us is that we can get a full a reward for our spiritual service even if we are saved late in this day of grace rather than being part of the early apostolic church. We can also receive a full reward if we are saved late in life instead of early in life. It also shows that Gentiles (who are last in the Jewish thinking) have the same advantage in the church as the Jew (who is first in the Jewish thinking).

This passage encourages us to work heartily for the Lord even if we are not given the same opportunity for service that others have had. In other words, our Lord will be fair when He gives out His rewards for service. All of us will get everything we were promised (as did those who worked all day) and likely we will get more than we deserve (as did those who were hired late in the day). We need to remember that If we got what we deserved we would all be condemned, but we get to enjoy the grace of God which we don’t deserve for eternity (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 6:23).

Week of February 2, 2003

John 16: 8-11

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Of sin, because they believe not on me;

Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Matthew 12:31

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

Have you ever struggled with whether you have committed the unforgivable sin? Do you wonder if sometime in your life you said something evil about or to the Holy Spirit that would keep you from enjoying God’s salvation?

I try to never let what is simple confuse what is difficult when I interpret the Bible. I think that John 3:18 is simple. It says that the unforgivable sin is not believing in the name of the only begotten son of God. Now either there has to be two unforgivable sins or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has to be rejecting the worth, work, and person of Christ. Can that be the interpretation of Matthew 12:31? I believe it can.

You will notice that in John 16 one of the works of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin which is linked with unbelief. In Matthew 12, the Lord had cast out demons which should have proven that He was the Son of God. The Pharisees never questioned whether the casting out of the demons was real, but they attributed the Lord’s power to Satan. Thus, they had rejected the Lord Jesus as being the Messiah. In doing so, they had spoken against the Holy Spirit (because the Lord said in verse 28 that He had cast out these demons by the power of the Holy Spirit.) By rejecting the Lord, they had rejected that inner voice that had spoken to them, telling them that this was real and that they needed to accept the Lord as their Messiah and Savior. They had also rejected a sign that the Holy Spirit had given them to convince them that Christ was their Messiah.

When these same Pharisees spoke against the Lord at his trials, they provided for their own salvation (although most of them rejected Him there as well). Their rejecting Christ when He was on earth, provided a sacrifice that saves. The Lord Himself could say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Thus, speaking against the Son of Man could be forgiven. But when the Holy Spirit convicts us that Christ is the Savior of sinners and we still reject Him (perhaps by saying He is an imposter or that His power comes from Satan), then there is no way we can be righteously forgiven. He is the only way to heaven.

If you would like to be saved but are worried that you have committed the unforgivable sin, rest assured that you haven’t. If one is not worried and is not saved, then that person may have rejected the testimony of the Holy Spirit and through unbelief may have committed this sin (but those people aren’t going to get this far reading this meditation, anyway.) So dear reader, if you have gotten this far, be assured that the Holy Spirit is still wanting to work through the Word of God to bring you to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17). Also, one who has saving faith never did and never will sin in this way.

Week of February 9, 2003

Matthew 27:22

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

Questions in the Bible are important. Several of those questions include:

Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God?

John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

These questions make us think about whether we are saved, whether we are justified or made right with God and whether we have begun a new life with Christ through faith in His sacrificial death. The question that I have been thinking about though is perhaps the most important of all. It is similar to “What think ye of Christ? (Matthew 22:42).”

I hear a lot of strange notions about who Christ is. Some say He was a great prophet but not God. How could He be a great prophet if He didn’t know who He was? Some say He was a great teacher. But again, How could he be a great teacher unless He told the truth? He taught that He was the Son of God. He taught that He would die and be buried and rise again the third day. If these things are not true, He was not a great teacher. Instead, He was a deceiver. Either He is who He claimed to be or He simply was not a great anything. Either we can believe Him or we can’t. If we can’t believe Him, we certainly shouldn’t believe in (or have confidence in) Him!

The question then comes back to, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” Pilate was affected by peer pressure. This isn’t just the problem of teenagers, most of us are greatly influenced by those around us. In order to maintain his authority and his place, Pilate did what he knew was wrong. He delivered the Lord to be crucified. Even his wife pleaded with him not to do this (Matthew 27:19). But what about us?

Two people that I have known for years breathed their last this week. Both of them, by their own testimonies, faced this issue. Both told us that they had accepted or believed in or trusted in the Lord Jesus. They said that they were “ready to go”. While we can’t read hearts and know for sure who has trusted the Lord and who has rejected him, we are thankful for those who tell us that they have accepted Him as their own personal Savior of Sinners. He was the Son of God who became the Son of Man to be the one “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree (1Peter 2:24).” If we reject His love, His person, His sacrifice for sins, we will be condemned for eternity. If we trust Him, we will be blessed for eternity (see John 3:18). Some of us say that we believe Him and thus believe in Him. But what would an impartial jury think if they observed us for a while. How would our neighbors answer this question about us? Would our business dealings indicate that this is true? Do we search for and try to do His will? This is an important issue and the way we deal with it will affect us for eternity just as it did Pilate.

Week of February 16, 2003

Mark 1:11

And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The Father affirmed His approval of His Son with these or similar words on two occasions. The first was at the Lord’s baptism as He was being publicly pointed out for His ministry and just before the devil tempted Him for 40 days in the wilderness. The second occasion was at the Transfiguration of the Lord on the mountain (Matthew 17:5).

On this first occasion, the affirmation must have given the Lord strength for the trial He was about to endure. Angels also ministered to Him and the Holy Spirit controlled Him, but I believe the Father’s affirmation must have motivated Him.

A father’s compliment can be a very encouraging thing for a son or a daughter. I wonder how many times we have failed to give the affirmation that would have kept our children strong during a trial. I have four children and all of them have made me proud. I am sure that they would have enjoyed hearing that from me more often.

I notice that the Father expressed His pleasure with His Son at the beginning and not at the end of His ministry. Now we can assume that the Lord had been a good boy in Joseph’s and Mary’s home and deserved this praise. After all, had he not been about His Father’s business at the age of 12 (Luke 2:49)? However, I think this praise was in anticipation of the temptation since the Father knew He could depend on His Son. I think this strengthened the Lord for the temptation since He was not only God but also man. I realize that this temptation was not designed to see if the Lord would fail but was designed to prove that the Lord was the real Messiah. Just as we test gold to show that it is gold, the Lord was tested to show that He was the sinless spotless Son of God. But there is something touching about the human aspect of these encouraging words that were given at a most appropriate time.

We often say that children are what we expect them to be. If we expect them to be bad, they are. If we expect them to be good, they are. God the Father expected His Son to please Him and He did. I think that there might be a lesson here for those of us who are Fathers.

Week of February 23, 2003