And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and said to them, Why stand you here all the day idle?
This treatment illustrates the suggestiveness of Scripture figures. They start thought on lines that lead away from their immediate connections.
I. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE. Froude says, "Beautiful is old age - beautiful as the slow dropping mellow autumn of a rich and glorious summer. In the old man Nature has fulfilled her work; she loads him with her blessings; she fills him with the fruits of a well spent life; and, surrounded by his children and his children's children, she rocks him away to a grave, to which he is followed with blessings. God forbid we should not call it beautiful! If old age were only beautiful, it would be a power we could ill afford to lose. For all beauty is akin to truth, and all truth is akin to God; and so all beauty is a shadow of him, a message from him, a help towards him. This sin-filled world wants all the truth, all the love, all the beauty it can get, in order to dispel the darkness, the hate, and the ugliness of its evil. We become as the things on which we look, and God keeps old men and women among us in order that we may see, and feel, and be lifted higher by their grace. The aged are kept among us because of the work they can do. One thing - they can check our hurry. Young folk want everything at once. The aged seem to say, "Quietly. One thing at a time. Good things are worth waiting for." And they are kept in order to link together the generations. What a world it would be if the people came and went in complete generations, and there was no blending of one with the other, so that experience might tone ardour! And the aged among us witness for God. They tell us of the God who "fed them all their life long; the God who redeemed them from evil."
II. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR GOD DOES CALL MEN TO HIS SERVICE. He proves the riches of his grace in the conversion of old men and old women. A marvel of grace, indeed, when all the long ten hours of the day of life have been spent in the service of self, A saved old man is the witness that God can "save unto the uttermost."
III. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR IS AN ALMOST HOPELESS TIME FOR BEGINNING A LIFE WORK. It is unsuitable for any beginnings. The sun is in the wrong quarter of the heavens. "The night cometh when no man can work." And the ability is low. The "eleventh hour" is time to be weary, and go to the long rest. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?