Matthew 20:1
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.
Augustine 354-430 -- the Recovery of Sight by the BlindVariousMatthew 20:1
Sermon for Septuagesima SundaySusannah Winkworth Matthew 20:1
Cheerfulness in WorkJ. Parsons.Matthew 20:1-16
Christian Condition and Christian CharacterBishop Huntington.Matthew 20:1-16
Conversion Postponed to Old AgeT. Adams.Matthew 20:1-16
Disadvantage of EnvyColton.Matthew 20:1-16
Disinterested ServiceBishop Huntingdon.Matthew 20:1-16
Diversity of Reward Imaged in NatureR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
God a Good PaymasterC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 20:1-16
God Himself the Best RewardW. M. Taylor, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
God's Bounty to Those Who TrustE. B. Pusey, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
God's Persevering ActivityR. Rothe, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
God's Sovereign GraceC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 20:1-16
Hired Late in the DayGeorge LawsonMatthew 20:1-16
Hiring Labourers in the EastMr. Morier., Van Lennep.Matthew 20:1-16
IdleR. Rothe, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
LabourersM. Braithwaite., J. Edmonson.Matthew 20:1-16
Love Makes Labour LightBible Jewels.Matthew 20:1-16
Mine OwnJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
Never Too Late for God's GraceMatthew 20:1-16
Reward Given During Work as Well as After it is DoneR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
Septuagesima SundayJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
Similarity of Reward not EqualityDr. Parker.Matthew 20:1-16
Slothfulness CondemnedJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The Astonishment of PrecedenceJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 20:1-16
The Call of NationsR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
The Evil EyeJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The Festive Evening TimeJ. P. Lange, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Grudging SpiritM. Dods, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardW. M. Taylor, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardA M. Ludlow, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardJ. Styles, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardW.F. Adeney Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardMarcus Dods Matthew 20:1-16
The Thought of Reward Does not Enter into the Higher Aspects of ServiceBishop Huntingdon.Matthew 20:1-16
The Vineyard LabourersJ C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The World a Market-PlaceJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The Worth of Work Determined by the Spirituality of its MotiveW. M. Taylor, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
Unto This LastJ. B. Brown, B. A.Matthew 20:1-16
Waiting to be CalledR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
Work and WagesAnon., G. M. Taft.Matthew 20:1-16

This parable is closely connected with our Lord's remarks in describing the rewards of the kingdom, and it may have been intended to convey a mild rebuke, or at least a gentle warning, to St. Peter, who had asked," What then shall we have?" The apostles are to receive great rewards. But those who, like St. Peter, were called first, are not to assume that they will have any more than those who came in later.

I. CHRIST SEEKS LABOURERS FOR HIS VINEYARD. There is work to be done in winning the world for Christ, and in training the Church that its fruit may be brought forth in abundance. For this work our Lord requires labourers. His servants are not to be satisfied with receiving his grace. That grace is given for the express purpose of its being used in his service. Christ calls us that we may serve him.

II. CHRIST OFFERS A FAIR REWARD FOR LABOUR. The so called "penny" was evidently the regular wages of the ordinary day labourer. Although Christ might exact service on royal authority, he does not put forth this authority. He accepts each laborer on the man's free consent, and he offers him all that he could ask for. We talk of the sacrifice and toils of a Christian life. We should be honest to reckon up its gains on the other side.

III. CHRIST HIRES LABORERS AT THE VARIOUS HOURS. The Church did not start fully equipped. By degrees the requisite forces have been drawn into the service of the kingdom. Those late hired may represent various classes.

1. The later called apostles. St. Peter will not have pre-eminence because he was called earlier than St. Jude. When St. Paul came his case would be obviously met here. And yet the parallel is not exact, because the later apostles did not have a shorter season of work.

2. The Gentiles. These were called later than the Jews; but they were not assigned an inferior place in the kingdom.

3. The heathen. Even today; at the eleventh hour, some nations are being called in.

4. The aged. One who did not receive the gospel in youth will not necessarily be lower than one who had the privilege of knowing it in his early days.

IV. CHRIST REWARDS IN AN UNEXPECTED MANNER. Here we have a description of an equality of payment. Elsewhere there is an idea of diversity, e.g. Luke 19:24-26. Each representation has its own lesson. In the case before us we learn that the final division may not be at all according to our expectation. The obscure may be on a level with the eminent - the Gentiles with the Jews, the new mission Churches of India and China with the old Christian Churches of Europe.

V. CHRIST HAS A RIGHT TO DEAL GENEROUSLY AFTER HE HAS ACTED JUSTLY. The payment looked unfair. But no one could complain, because every one had what he had agreed to take, and because no one had less than fair wages. Beyond this the householder was free to be as generous as he pleased in the disposal of his own property. Still, one can quite understand the dissatistaction. People are hurt when generosity does not seem to be equal and fair. It should be noted, however, that the later comers had excused themselves on the plea that no man had hired them. Possibly they were as willing to work all day as those who had done so. Now, Christ judges by the heart and the intentions. - W.F.A.

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard:
1. This story is on the face of it improbable. It is unusual for an employer to give as much remuneration to those who have wrought one hour as to those who have wrought nine or twelve. The householder was a peculiar character, and had his own way of doing things, and did not care how people regarded him. He must be such an one if he is to represent God and His dealing with men. "My thoughts are not your thoughts," etc. God's kingdom is not of this world.

2. The act of the householder seems to be unjust. Some think that the late-comers did as-much work in one hour as the others in nine; others that the late-comers were paid with a brass denarius, the others with a silver one, or with a gold one; so they say one heaven for all, yet of varied glory. But if the early workers had a gold denarius they would not have complained. We have to admit the inequality of the treatment; it is explained by the spirit of the workers, of which earthly employers take no thought.

3. The difficulty of finding spiritual analogues for each of the particulars in the parable. The grumbling workers are to be taken as the impersonations of an evil principle that often exists in Christian hearts; they correspond to the elder brother in the parable. There is much of the hireling disposition even in true disciples. Work in this spirit, however great it may seem, is small in the sight of God. The "perfect" and the "chosen" labour for love. The first bargained with the householder; the last trusted to his generosity without question. To those late he was better than they expected. To the hire. ling He shows Himself a hirer; to the trustful worthy of confidence. The bargainers are filled with dissatisfaction, the confiding ones with joy. The parable teaches a change of place between the first and the last; not unusual. There will be first who shall remain first.

4. This view does not approve late coming into the vineyard. Service is not determined by duration, but by spirit, Motive gives character to work.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The Church is composed, indeed, of those who have confessed Christ; but it is a society, existing for certain purposes, and, as such, it has its machinery for the carrying out of these purposes, like any other society that has been formed in the world. Now, the keeping of any part of that machinery in motion is in itself no more a spiritual work than the carrying-on of any other machinery; and if it is not done with a spiritual motive, then, even though it be done for the Church, it is not spiritual work such as God can value and reward. Thus, in a missionary society, the great object is spiritual; but it has to be sustained and carried on like any other business society; its books have to be kept like those of any commercial firm, and he who keeps them is not in that doing a spiritual work, any more than a bookkeeper in a mercantile house is doing a spiritual work. The mercantile bookkeeper may make his work spiritual by doing it as unto the Lord; but the missionary bookkeeper will make his secular if he does it simply for his wages, and as work. So, again, in the office of the ministry, there is much in common with ordinal" departments of life. It gratifies literary tastes; it affords opportunities for study; it has associated with it a certain honour and esteem in the eyes of others; it furnishes occasions for the thrill that every real orator feels in the delivery of a message to his fellow-men, and the like. Now, if a man is in the ministry simply for these kinds of enjoyment, there is no more spirituality in his work, than there is in that of the litterateur, or the political orator. Theirs may be spiritual, indeed, if they are doing it out of love to God; but his must be merely secular if he does it only from such motives as have place in ordinary literature or eloquence.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Beautiful exceedingly in this connection is the story — mythical, no doubt, in form, but probably true in substance — that is told concerning . Worshipping one day in the chapel in which he was accustomed to perform his devotions, it is said that the Saviour thus addressed him: "Thomas, thou hast written much and well concerning Me. What reward shall I give thee for thy work? " Whereupon he answered, "Nihil misi te, Domine," — "Nothing but Thyself, O Lord!" And in very deed He is Himself the best of all His gifts. He is Himself the " exceeding great reward " of all His people. Let the spirit of the angelic Doctor, as enshrined in this simple story, fill our hearts, and there will be no room within us for the hireling's selfishness.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The eleventh-hour workmen are made to feel that envy is worse than idleness. One exposition is that this parable refers to complete Christians, the reckoning at nightfall being taken for entrance into the bliss of heaven. Such would not be serious complainers; would not be sent away with humiliating rebuke; they would not regard eternal life as a compensation for work done. Some say that its design is to show that the judgment of Christian character does not depend on the length of service, but on its energy and spirit. This inadmissible; nothing is said of the one-hour servants working with more energy or a better spirit. Some imagine that our Lord teaches here that all souls in heaven will be equally rewarded. Inadmissible; though every labourer take his penny, some take it grudgingly and others cheerfully, some with envy and others with charity. Some among the ancient Fathers suggest that Christ alluded by the several hours of the working day, to the great periods in the world's religious progress. Adam, Noah, Moses, and the Prophets endured the burden and heat of the world's great day. No exclusive application to the Jews; Adam, Noah, etc., were not murmurers at the end; their earthly service did not last to the gathering of the nations about the cross. Again it has been said that these hours of the day stand for the different stages in men's lives when they make answer to the call of God. This fails as regards the judgment, when last converts serving one hour will not enjoy equal reward with life-long Christians. The word "Christian" is used in two senses. This is a "Christian" land:

1. This is the Christianity of condition It is the visible Christian estate or kingdom that Christ has set up on the earth; it is a state of salvation. The heathen are outside this.

2. There is the Christianity of character; not of provision, but of possession. We get it by the channel of a living faith. Thus " many are called, few are chosen." "Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure." The call of Christ is impartial. The night-fall is not death or judgment; but simply the end of one period of labour, of one test of character — the one ultimate reckoning lying still far in the future. The early and late workers have alike the promised penny, the common and open privilege of the gospel and Church. But have you turned the Christianity of condition and privilege into the personal Christianity of choice and character? The length of time you have been in the Church is now of little consequence; all that is over. Are you Christ's men? What are your feelings toward the brother-souls that live and work near you? The parable strikes a blow at the notion that any works of ours are profitable, to t rod, or even to our salvation. The quality, not the performance, is the accepted thing, the heart of faith and love, not any self-complacent operations.

(Bishop Huntington.)


1. There is the constitution of a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7).

2. Having constituted a vineyard, the next movement of Divine grace is to call and engage men as labourers in it.

3. Divine grace purposes to make active servants and labourers of men. Toil does not save men without effort; a variety of work.

4. Nor is it a bootless service to which grace calls men. The householder has wages for every labourer. Godliness is profitable (1 Timothy 4:8).

II. THY CONDUCT OF MEN TOWARDS IT. All were idlers at the commencement; man has endowments for work which ought to be employed. Some prefer idleness and continue in it. Many have entered the vineyard, but are not all satisfactory labourers. Some however are good and faithful servants.

1. Let us learn to admire the glorious beneficence of God.

2. There is something for us to do.

3. Let us move forward and see how it will be with us when the bustle of this world is over, and the Lord of the vineyard sends His steward to settle up our earthly accounts.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

I suppose we have all noticed the curious diversity of the seeds we sow in the spring. There are some that shoot out and grow up days before the others from the same paper, sown in the same bed, and that seemed exactly like the rest. It is so with a number of fruit trees in a young orchard. Each tree may get an equal care, and appear to have the same natural advantages, but one will spring out into an early fruitfulness, while another holds back, summer after summer, and perhaps, only when the husbandman begins to despair of its ever doing any good, it bears fruit.

(R. Collyer.)

May we not then draw from this parable the lesson, that God takes into account not only the work we do, but also our opportunities. He does not allow us to be discredited with Him for not doing what we could not do, if only we show the disposition to do it.

(A M. Ludlow, D. D.)

So, then, we do the work without any reference to the reward. You who came to Christ full fifty years ago will have your penny — as well the dying thief that had to bring yesternight only one foot out of hell. Will you, then, be placed on equal terms? It never can be so. Can a man of fine capacity and mind go along any road and have as the result of his walking only that which the common clodhopper has, who " thought the moon no bigger than his father's shield, and the visual line that girt him round the world's extreme? " Have they both equal enjoyment out of the same circumstances? It is impossible. The walk to the philosopher is a walk in church, a climbing up the altar stairs. He sees angels, he hears voices, he is touched by reverences, he is in the presence and sanctuary of God. Yet the road the same, the day the same — the road through a garden, the day the queenliest in all the summer train, yet in that walk one man found Heaven, the other only a convenient road to a place to sleep in.

(Dr. Parker.)

I. IDLING. Men who needed work. Whom work and its rewards would benefit. Waiting according to custom to be hired. Important to be where the call of the Master may meet us. There are many idlers in the world.

II. CALLING. God calls men to work for Him in His vineyard. Some in early life — Josiah, etc. He continues to call up to the eleventh hour. This call He sends in various ways. He confers a great honour by calling. The honour of working for Him is a sufficient reward. Very sinful to refuse to obey (Proverbs 1:24). There will be a last call — we know not how soon — may be now.

III. WORKING. He calls to work.

1. For ourselves. To secure and work out our salvation. Follow after holiness, etc.

2. For others. We must do good, as well as get good. This work brings comfort to the worker.

IV. PAYING. God will be no man's debtor. He will give what He has promised, More than we deserve, more than the most sanguine expect. Learn —

1. All living without working for God, is but idling.

2. Now that God calls us to work, let us not refuse.

3. Our best works will not deserve heaven.

4. We all need the work of Divine grace in our souls.

(J C. Gray.)

Certainly it is sovereign grace alone which leads the Lord God to engage such sorry labourers as we are. Let us inquire —


1. The impulse of grace comes, before we think of stirring to go to Him.

2. In times of revival, He goes forth by the power of His Spirit, and many are brought in.

3. There are times of personal visitation with most men, when they are specially moved to holy things.

II. WHAT IS THE HOUR HERE MENTIONED? It represents the period between twenty-five and thirty-five years of age, or thereabouts.

1. The dew of youth's earliest and best morning hour is gone.

2. Habits of idleness have been formed by standing in the marketplace so long. Harder to begin at third hour than first. Loiterers are usually spoiled by their loafing ways.

3. Satan is ready with temptation to lure them to his service.

4. Their sun may go down suddenly, for life is uncertain. Many a day of life has closed at its third hour.

5. Fair opportunity for work yet remains; but it will speedily pass away as the hours steal round.

6. As yet the noblest of all work has not been commenced; for only by working for Christ can life be made sublime.


1. Many are altogether idling in a literal sense; mere loafers with nothing to do.

2. Many are idle with laborious business — industrious triflers, wearied with toils which accomplish nothing of real worth.

3. Many are idle because of constant indecision.

4. Many are idle though full of sanguine intentions.

IV. WHAT WORK WOULD THE LORD HAVE THEM DO? He would have them work by day in His vineyard.

1. The work is such as many of the best of men enjoy.

2. The work is proper and fit for you.

3. For that work the Lord will find you tools and strength.

4. You shall work with your Lord, and so be ennobled.

5. Your work shall be growingly pleasant to you

6. It shall be graciously rewarded at the last.

V. WHAT DID THEY DO IN ANSWER TO HIS CALL? "Went their way." May you, who are in a similar time of the day, imitate them!

1. They went at once. Immediate service.

2. They worked with a will.

3. They never left the service, but remained till night.

4. They received the full reward at the day's end.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


(1)Its object one of supreme importance;

(2)Proposed by highest authority;

(3)Requires long, steady, earnest application;

(4)Certain of ultimate success.


(1)By limited time — a day;

(2)By analogy of worldly employments;

(3)By certainty of future reckoning.


(1)Aversion to work;




(J. C. Gray.)

I. The ordinary walks of life are as a market-place to men whose highest aim is to buy and sell and get gain.

II. Outside this market-place is a vineyard, which the great Owner of the world and Proprietor of human life would have cultivated.

III. All hiring, and looking out for hire, is but a profitless idling till the Master calls to a higher work.

IV. Call a man to labour when He will, He will give what He pleases of His own at the end of life's day.

(J. C. Gray.)

I. Idleness rebuked.

II. Service required.

III. Toil rewarded.

IV. Discontent manifested.

V. Murmuring silenced.

VI. Administration vindicated.

(M. Braithwaite.)

I. There is a householder who has a vineyard. The householder — Jesus. The vineyard is the Church.

II. The householder calls labourers into his vineyard at different hours in the day.

III. In the evening the labourers are called to receive their reward.

IV. The early labourers murmur against the householder.

V. The householder defends his conduct; and expostulates with the murmurers.

VI. The parable concludes with an awful inference to the Jewish nation.

(J. Edmonson.)

I. The Church of God is brought before us as a place of work. By no means the ordinary idea. Members, not workers.

II. There is much work to be done, and many kinds of work, and, therefore, that there is room and need for many workers of many kinds.

III. That no work shall be left without wages.

IV. That the wages are not proportioned to the work.


I. Called to work.

1. Who calls?

2. Who are called?

3. When called?

II. Humility in work. Shown in obedience, hearty service, thankful spirit.

III. Reward for work. To the first. To the last.

(G. M. Taft.)


1. God hires labourers into his vineyard.

2. At different periods has God made Himself known to the children of men.

3. They labour until the evening arrives.


1. That the rewards of Christianity being rewards of grace, and not of works, are regulated only by the beneficent will of Him who is debtor to no man; and that such conduct is consistent with strict equity.

2. To expose the hypocrisy of some professors of religion, and remind us of the frailty which attaches even to those whose sincerity cannot be doubted.

3. To remind us of the real dignity of the work, independently of the reward annexed to it.

4. To warn us of the period to our exertions, and the hour of final reckoning —




5. To instruct us in the temper of real Christianity.

(J. Styles, D. D.)

Two young girls were going to a neighbouring town, each carrying on her head a heavy basket of fruit to sell. One of them was murmuring and fretting all the way, and complaining of the weight of her basket. The other went along smiling and singing, and seeming to be very happy. At last the first got out of patience with her companion, and said, "How can you go on so merry and joyful? your basket is-as heavy as mine, and I know you are not a bit stronger than I am. I don't understand it." "Oh," said the other, "it's easy enough to understand. I have a certain little plant which I put on the top of my load, and it makes it so light I hardly feel it." "Indeed! that must be a very precious little plant. I wish I could lighten my load with it. Where does it grow? Tell me. What do you call it?" "It grows wherever you plant it, and give it a chance to take root, and there's no knowing the relief it gives. Its name is, love, the love of Jesus. I have found out that Jesus loved me so much that He died to save my soul. This makes me love Him. Whatever I do, whether it be carrying this basket or anything else, I think to myself, I am doing this for Jesus, to show that I love Him, and this makes everything easy and pleasant."

(Bible Jewels.)

The benevolent have the advantage of the envious, even in this present life; for the envious is tormented not only by all the ill that befalls himself, but by all the good that happens to another; whereas the benevolent man is the better prepared to bear his own calamities unruffled, from the complacency and serenity he has secured from contemplating the prosperity of all around him.


By these labourers that were hired long after the morning, we are to understand men in whom nothing appeared that should dispose any person to have a favourable opinion of them, or who were at least destitute of anything truly good, whilst others made a figure in the Church.


1. There are some who have never thought seriously about the state of their souls; or their serious thoughts, if ever any obtained possession of their minds, have left no impression.

2. There are some who entertain a groundless opinion of the goodness of their state.

3. There are some who live in suspense about their condition.

4. There are some too well enlightened to flatter themselves with groundless hopes.


1. God deals with them, by the gospel, as well as with sinners who are yet in the days of their youth.

2. The long-suffering of the Lord is salvation to sinners. God spares long, to give space for obtaining pardon and salvation.

3. From the grace of God bestowed upon transgressors in former days, it appears, that there is mercy with him for old transgressors.

III. Consider the encouragement given to old sinners to repent. The gracious reward promised to those who enter into the vineyard at the eleventh hour, must have a powerful effect upon all who believe the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(George Lawson,)

The reward which the Lord will ultimately grant to His servants.

I. It is not ARBITRARY, but in accordance with the strictest justice.

1. He rewards only His labourers.

2. He rewards all His labourers.

3. He gives the same reward to all His labourers as such. The equality of the penny a figure of the equality of God's justice.

II. It is not LIMITED, but free and rich, according to the fulness of His love.

III. It is not a MYSTERIOUS and silent fate, but the ways of wisdom, which justify themselves.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

Consider His payments.

I. An easy conscience.

II. The comfort we have in doing something for Jesus.

III. The reward in watching first buddings of conviction in a soul.

IV. The joy of success.

V. The final entrance into the joy of our Lord.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The most conspicuous building in Hamadan is the Mesjid Jumah, a large mosque, now falling into decay, and before it a meidan, or square, which serves as a market-place. Here we observed, every morning before the sun rose, that a numerous body of peasants were collected with spades in their hands, waiting, as they informed me, to be hired for the day to work in the surrounding fields. This custom forcibly struck us as a most happy illustration of our Saviour's parable of the labourers in the vineyard; particularly when, passing by the same place late in the day, we still found others standing idle, and remembered His words, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" as most applicable to their situation; for in putting the very same question to them, they answered us, "Because no man hath hired us."

(Mr. Morier.)Daring the whole season when vineyards may be dug, the common workmen to very early in the morning to the Sock, or market-place of the village or city, where comestibles are sold. While waiting to be hired, they take their morning cup of coffee, and eat a morsel of bread. The owners of vineyards come to the place and engage the number of labourers they need. These immediately go to the vineyard and work there until a little while before the sun sets, which, according to Oriental time, is twelve o'clock, so that the " eleventh hour" means one hour before sunset. We have often seen men stand in the market-place through the entire day without finding employment, and have repeatedly engaged them ourselves at noon for half a day's job, and later for one or two hours' work in our garden. In such a case the price has to be particularly bargained for, but it is more often left to the generosity of the employer to give whatever backshish he feels disposed.

(Van Lennep.)

He promises not to us, as to those first labourers, a certain hire. Even while He would wholly restore us in His mercy, He would keep in us the humility of penitents. He seemeth to tell us thus, that we have forfeited our claim. that we must labour on in faith, and hope, and confiding trust, making no bargains, as it were, with Him, looking for nothing again, but what He of His free bounty will give us. But so will He give us, not what we could dare to ask or think, but "what is right;" not" right " with regard to us, or any poor claims or demerits of ours, but right in His sight whose mercy is over all His works, right for Him who doth what He will with His own, Who is not stinted to any measure of proportion, but giving us out of the largeness of His love; not what is "right " for us, but for Him in whose right we receive what we deserve not, even His, Who gave up that which was His right by nature, and emptied Himself, that, what is His right, we might receive. This is our very hope, and trust, and gladness in our toil, that we labour, not with any calculating spirit, or to set up for ourselves any claim with God; the rewards of desert were finite; the reward of grace is infinite, even Himself, Who hath said, "I am thine exceeding great reward."

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

See how actively the householder employs himself. His loving heart is so comprehensive that He cannot have enough labourers in His vineyard — not enough souls with which He can, as it wore, share the joy and the glory of the extension of His kingdom. How many a human being who has been troubled at having missed the first appearance of the householder at daybreak, now rejoices at being called into the vineyard before the sun is too high in the heavens. He does not think first of stipulating about his hire; the word of the Lord, "Whatsoever is right, I will give you," is even more than he requires, and at the sixth hour he joyfully enters into his work in the Lord's vineyard. It has been painful to him to stand idle; to gaze for half a day upon that which is intended for working, and yet to be unable to work at it.

(R. Rothe, D. D.)

If we, with the eye of God, could look down upon the proceedings of this life, how startled we should be at the host of idlers in the midst of the turmoil of life. The Lord sees clearly that which our merely human understanding can also perceive, that there is only one activity upon earth which is really activity, because it produces a real result-activity for the kingdom of God and in His service. Every other effort of human strength, if it has not a decided reference to the kingdom of God, and finds in its source as well as its aim, is only a busy idleness, a sad and mournful unreality, with which the prince of this world detains in its prison those who have fallen into its unhappy slavery. Every other activity which does not build, only destroys, and the more noble the power is which calls it forth, the more destructive is its working, until at last it destroys itself.

(R. Rothe, D. D.)

An old sailor, who was very ragged, and whose white head spoke the lapse of many years, was leaning against a post in conversation with another sailor. A member of the Bethel Union spoke to them, and particularly invited the old man to attend the prayer-meeting. His companion, after hearing the nature of the invitation, said, "Thomas, go in! Come! come, man! go into the meeting; it won't hurt you." "Puh! puh!" cried the old seaman, "I should not know what to do with myself. I never go to church or prayer-meetings; besides, I am too old. I am upwards of seventy, and I am very wicked, and have always been so; it is too late for me to begin, it is of no use; all is over with me, I must go to the devil." After a moment's pause, the member, looking with pity upon the old veteran, answered, "You are the very man the prayer-meeting is held for." "How so?" (with much surprise). "Because Jesus Christ came into the world to save the chief of sinners. When young, I suppose, you were tempted to think it would be time enough to be religious when you came to be old?" "Ah I that I did," replied the sailor. "Now you are old you say it is too late. Listen no longer to these suggestions; come with me: no time is to be lost, for Jesus is waiting to save you, poor sinner, or He would have sent you to that place where hope never comes, before this; your sins deserve it." His companion then said, "Thomas, go to the prayer-meeting. You have need, at your time of life, to prepare to die." He went, and attended regularly, and with the best results. Some time after he was asked, "Well, my aged friend, do you think you are too much in years to be saved? too old in sin for the blood of Christ to cleanse you? No, sir," said he; "I bless God, I do feel a hope, a blessed hope, which I would not give up for worlds; a hope which encourages me to think that God will be merciful to me, and pardon me, old sinner as I am."

It was now plain that the early-hired labourer had little interest in the work, and that it was no satisfaction to him to have been able to do twelve times as much as the last hired. He had the hireling's spirit, and had been longing for the shadow and counting his wages all day long. English sailors have been known to be filled with pity for their comrades whose ships only hove in sight in time to see the enemy's flag run down, or to fire the last shot in a long day's engagement. They have so pitied them for having no share in the excitement and glory of the day, that they would willingly give them as a compensation their own pay and prize money. And the true follower of Christ, who has listened to the earliest call of his Master, and has revelled in the glory of serving Him throughout life, will from the bottom of his heart pity the man who has only late in life recognized the glory of His service, and has had barely time to pick up his tools when the dusk of evening fails upon him. It is impossible that a man whose chief desire was to advance his Master's work, should envy another labourer who had done much less than himself. The very fact that a man envies another his reward, is enough of itself to convict him of self-seeking in His service.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

I. The work to which all were called; and in which the first bore the heat, etc.

II. The reason of the idleness of those who were called at the eleventh hour.

III. The Lord's justification of His ways.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

We have here:

I. The assertion of the absolute proprietorship. Both the whole world and every man belong to God. They are His

(1)by creation;

(2)by providence;

(3)by grace.

II. A vindication of final decisions based on this absolute right.

III. A censure pronounced on all criticisms adverse to these decisions.

(J. C. Gray.)

1. I have been good in that I hired you at all.

2. Hired you before you had shown what you could do.

3. I now give you all I promised, without criticising your work.

4. In being good to others I do not wrong you.Learn, if one should say — "Since I shall be no better off in the end than those who began late to work for God, and I may therefore delay," he should reflect that this hour may be his eleventh.

(J. C. Gray.)

So, then, when I see a young man slow and backward, and in a poor place, whose soul I know would expand in the sunshine of prosperity and fill a better place: or a woman, waiting with her unfulfilled life in her heart, willing to give it in any high, pure fashion to the Lord, if He will but come and take it; or a preacher, with a mighty power to preach somewhere in his nature, if he could only find the clue to it; or a man who has waited through his lifetime for the Lord to show him the true church, the place where he can feel that the religious heart of him is at rest; — if in these things or in any of them, I feel I have found my place, and am doing my work, I must feel very tenderly, and judge very generously, all the waiters in all these ways; must call up this picture of the faces so wistful in the old market-place, watching for the coming of the Lord: "Who has made me to differ, who has called me at the first hour, why do I succeed where others fail? " It is the gift of God; it is not of works, lest any man should boast. It is the difference between the seed the husbandman, for his own good reason, will leave dark and still in the granary, and the seed he sows which can spring at once to the sun and the sweet airs of the summer. It is the difference in the home, in our conduct towards our children, when we know it is best to let one go forward in the school and keep another backward.

(R. Collyer.)

This is true, finally of our country. England and Germany begin in the early morning, and in the wild woods of Britain and Gaul, to earn their penny; and it is their lot for long centuries to toil, winning, as they can, this and that from the wilderness, — trial by jury, Magna Charta, free speech, free press, free pulpit, — and when many hours are past, and much hard work is done, a voice comes to a new nation, and tells of a new world, and says, "Go work there;" and when the old world looks up, the new is abreast of those nations that have borne the burden and heat of the day, and will have its penny. And in this new world itself, there are men living here in Chicago, who can remember very well when our great prairies lifted their faces wistfully to the sun, and cried, "No man hath hired us; " when our streets, now so full of life, sounded only to the voice of the mighty waters and the cry of the savage. Now the whole civilized world has to come and see what has been done. Not many years more will pass, we who live here believe, before this new worker will be abreast of the oldest, and will win her penny.

(R. Collyer.)

I think the most heart-whole man I ever knew, was a man who had waited and watched, breaking stones through all weathers on the cold shoulder of a Yorkshire hill, and he could hardly see the stones he had to break he was so sand blind. His wife was dead and all his children; his hut was open to the sky, and to the steel-cold stars in winter; but when once one said to comfort him, "Brother, you will soon be in heaven!" he cried out in his rapture, "I have been there this ten years!" And so when at last the angel came to take him, he was not unclothed, but clothed upon; mortality was swallowed up of life.

(R. Collyer.)

Christ nowhere offers us heaven as a price for good behaviour, as foolish parents, or rather wicked parents, lure their children to obey with sweetmeats and toys. It is in no such sense as this that He engages to be a Rewarder of them that seek Him. The very passage just quoted discredits such a thought; for it says, "If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye?" There must be spontaneous service. The heart must go into it, uncalculating and ungrudging. You must love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and bless them that curse you, and lend, hoping for nothing again. Then you will be the children of the Highest; and, precisely because you expected no reward at all, verily your reward shall be great. There is a striking legend of saintly old Bishop Ivo, who walked with God, and saw through the self-seeking religionists of his time, and longed for larger faith. He describes himself as meeting one day, a figure in the form of a woman, of a sad, earnest aspect, like some prophetess of God, who carried a vessel of fire in one hand, and of water in the other. He asked her what these things were for. She answered, the tire is to burn up Paradise, the water is to quench Hell — that men may henceforth serve their Maker, not from the selfish hope of the one, nor from the selfish fear of the other, but for love of Himself alone. God does not consume paradise, nor quench hell. He keeps the fountains of sweet and living waters leaping and flowing in the one; He keeps the awful fires of the other burning. But surely all this promise and penalty do not mean that we are to stop in their discipline, and calculate the price of our obedience. Oh, no! not while the glorious voice of the apostle rings out over the centuries: "The love of Christ constraineth me; I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Him." Not while the Saviour says to the aspiring heart of the world, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect;" hoping for nothing again.

(Bishop Huntingdon.)

The reward is in doing them; in the inevitable feeling that goes along with them, far enough from being set about as the end, but interwoven with them by the gracious bounty that ever surprises faithful souls. With all these true acts and emotions of the really spiritually minded man, it is precisely as it is with any of those acts of common life that the heart goes most into. You cannot speak of any rewards for the love that is the bond of a true marriage, without insulting those to whom you speak. You cannot connect the notion of compensation, pay, with the affection that twines a child's arms about the mother's neck, or that keeps her waiting in vigils that outwatch the patient stars, over the child's pain or sin, without profaning that affection. You cannot associate the prospect of a reward with the heroic humanity which keeps the friendly vessels hanging close, many days and nights, in the frightful companionship of a common peril, to take off the passengers of the imperilled and sinking ship; nor with any generous and brave rescue or sacrifice. .Now, to any spiritual estimate, the services of daily piety are as full of the charm and fascination and glory of self-forgetting devotion as any of these. Christ is nearer than wife or husband. The Father in heaven is more real, and infinitely holier and tenderer, than the human mother. All fellow-souls in moral misery or sin need help more urgently than the shipwrecked company. And so, if our piety is real, like Christ's piety, it must be just as self-oblivious, as hearty, as spontaneous and free, as that. And then it will leave a more unspeakable, glorious, infinite reward.

(Bishop Huntingdon.)

"Are you not wearying for the heavenly rest?" said Whitefield to an old minister. "No, certainly not:" he replied. "Why not?" was the surprised rejoinder. "Why, my good brother," said the aged saint, "if you were to send your servant into the fields to do a certain portion of work for you, and promised to give him rest and refreshment in the evening, what would you say if you found him languid and discontented in the middle of the day, and murmuring, 'Would to God it were evening'? Would you not bid him be up and doing, and finish his work, and then go home and enjoy the promised rest? Just so does God require of you and me, that, instead of looking for Saturday night, we do our day's work in the day." The eleventh, hour: —

I. The time mentioned may represent an advanced period of human life.

II. Men are to be found in this period, inattentive to the concerns of true religion.

III. They who are found inattentive in this period, are involved in peculiar perils. Hardness of heart, etc.

IV. Divine grace sometimes displays itself, by making this period to be one of true and saving conversion.

(J. Parsons.)

Many men put off their conversion, and at twenty send religion afore them to thirty; then post it off to forty, and yet not pleased to overtake it, they promise it entertainment at threescore. At last death comes, and he allows not one hour. In youth men resolve to afford themselves the time of age to serve God: in age they shuffle it off to sickness; when sickness comes, care to dispose their goods, lothness to die, hope to escape, martyrs that good thought, and their resolution still keeps before them. If we have but the lease of a farm for one-and-twenty years, we make use of the time, and gather profit. But in this precious farm of time we are so bad husbands that our lease comes out before we are one pennyworth of grace the richer by it.

(T. Adams.)

David, Jesus, Zabdi, Zebedee
Jericho, Jerusalem, Judea
Early, Employer, Forth, Heaven, Heavens, Hire, Household, Householder, Kingdom, Laborers, Labourers, Landowner, Master, Morn, Morning, Reign, Vine-garden, Vineyard, Workers, Workmen
1. Jesus, by the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, shows that God is debtor unto no man;
17. foretells his passion;
20. by answering the mother of Zebedee's children, teaches his disciples to be humble;
29. and gives two blind men their sight.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 20:1

     4954   morning

Matthew 20:1-2

     5242   buying and selling
     5501   reward, human

Matthew 20:1-15

     5337   hiring

Matthew 20:1-16

     2042   Christ, justice of
     4538   vineyard
     5260   coinage
     5438   parables
     5603   wages
     5882   impartiality
     8344   servanthood, in believers

February 2. "And Whosoever Will be Great among You, Let Him be Your Minister. And Whosoever Will be Chief among You, Let Him be Your Servant" (Matt. xx. 26, 27).
"And whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matt. xx. 26, 27). Slave is the literal meaning of the word, doulos. The first word used for service is diakanos, which means a minister to others in any usual way or work: but the word doulos means a bond slave, and the Lord here plainly teaches us that the highest service is that of a bond slave. He Himself made Himself the servant of all, and he who would come
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Nearest to Christ
'To sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father.'--MATT. xx. 23. You will observe that an unusually long supplement is inserted by our translators in this verse. That supplement is quite unnecessary, and, as is sometimes the case, is even worse than unnecessary. It positively obscures the true meaning of the words before us. As they stand in our Bibles, the impression that they leave upon one's mind is that Christ in
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Servant-Lord and his Servants
'Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.'--MATT. xx. 28. It seems at first sight strangely unsympathetic and irrelevant that the ambitious request of James and John and their foolish mother, that they should sit at Christ's right hand and His left in His kingdom, should have been occasioned by, and have followed immediately upon, our Lord's solemn and pathetic announcement of His sufferings. But the connection is not difficult to trace. The disciples believed that,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

What the Historic Christ Taught About his Death
'The Son of Man came... to give His life a ransom for many.'--Matt. xx. 28. We hear a great deal at present about going back to 'the Christ of the Gospels.' In so far as that phrase and the movement of thought which it describes are a protest against the substitution of doctrines for the Person whom the doctrines represent, I, for one, rejoice in it. But I believe that the antithesis suggested by the phrase, and by some of its advocates avowed, between the Christ of the Gospels and the Christ of
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Blind Bartimeus
Mark 10:52 -- "And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." When the apostle Peter was recommending Jesus of Nazareth, in one of his sermons to the Jews, he gave him a short, but withal a glorious and exalted character, "That we went about doing good." He went about, he sought occasions of doing good; it was his meat and drink to do the works of him that sent him, whilst the day of his public administration
George Whitefield—Selected Sermons of George Whitefield

Delivered on the Lord's Day, on that which is Written in the Gospel, Matt. xx. 1, "The Kingdom of Heaven is Like unto a Man That
1. Ye have heard out of the Holy Gospel a parable well suited to the present season, concerning the labourers in the vineyard. For now is the time of the material [2841] vintage. Now there is also a spiritual vintage, wherein God rejoiceth in the fruit of His vineyard. For we cultivate God, and God cultivateth us. [2842] But we do not so cultivate God as to make Him any better thereby. For our cultivation is the labour of the heart, not of the hands. [2843] He cultivateth us as the husbandman doth
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xx. 30, About the Two Blind Men Sitting by the Way Side, and Crying Out, "Lord, have Mercy On
1. Ye know, Holy Brethren, full well as we do, that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the Physician of our eternal health; and that to this end He took the weakness of our nature, that our weakness might not last for ever. For He assumed a mortal body, wherein to kill death. And, "though He was crucified through weakness," as the Apostle saith, "yet He liveth by the power of God." [2870] They are the words too of the same Apostle; "He dieth no more, and death shall have no more dominion over Him."
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Divine Sovereignty
We must assume, before we commence our discourse, one thing certain, namely, that all blessings are gifts and that we have no claim to them by our own merit. This I think every considerate mind will grant. And this being admitted, we shall endeavour to show that he has a right, seeing they are his own to do what he wills with them--to withhold them wholly is he pleaseth--to distribute them all if he chooseth--to give to some and not to others--to give to none or to give to all, just as seemeth good
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856

The Private Thoughts and Words of Jesus
"And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again."--Matthew 20:17-19. YOU HAVE THIS SAME STORY in Matthew and Mark and Luke, a little differently told; as would naturally be the case
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891

Particular Redemption
I begin this morning with the doctrine of Redemption. "He gave his life a ransom for many." The doctrine of Redemption is one of the most important doctrines of the system of faith. A mistake on this point will inevitably lead to a mistake through the entire system of our belief. Now, you are aware that there are different theories of Redemption. All Christians hold that Christ died to redeem, but all Christians do not teach the same redemption. We differ as to the nature of atonement, and as to
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

Sermon for Septuagesima Sunday
(From the Gospel for the day) In this Sermon following we are taught how we must perpetually press forward towards our highest good, without pause or rest; and how we must labour in the spiritual vineyard that it may bring forth good fruit. Matt. xx. 1.--"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard." THIS householder went out early at the first hour, and again at the third and at the sixth hours, and hired
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Augustine 354-430 -- the Recovery of Sight by the Blind
I. Ye know, holy brethren, full well as we do, that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the physician of our eternal health; and that to this end we task the weakness of our natures, that our weakness might not last forever. For He assumed a mortal body, wherein to kill death. And, "though He was crucified through weakness," as the apostle saith, yet He "liveth by the power of God." They are the words, too, of the same apostle: "He dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him." These things,
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Volume I

The Historical Books of the New Testament, Meaning Thereby the Four Gospels and the Acts...
The historical books of the New Testament, meaning thereby the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, are quoted, or alluded to, by a series of Christian writers, beginning with those who were contemporary with the apostles, or who immediately followed them, and proceeding in close and regular succession from their time to the present. The medium of proof stated in this proposition is, of all others, the most unquestionable, the least liable to any practices of fraud, and is not diminished by
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity

The Johannine Writings
BY the Johannine writings are meant the Apocalypse and the fourth gospel, as well as the three catholic epistles to which the name of John is traditionally attached. It is not possible to enter here into a review of the critical questions connected with them, and especially into the question of their authorship. The most recent criticism, while it seems to bring the traditional authorship into greater uncertainty, approaches more nearly than was once common to the position of tradition in another
James Denney—The Death of Christ

Ci. Foretelling his Passion. Rebuking Ambition.
(Peræa, or Judæa, Near the Jordan.) ^A Matt. XX. 17-28; ^B Mark X. 32-45; ^C Luke XVIII. 31-34. ^b 32 And they were on the way, going up to Jerusalem [Dean Mansel sees in these words an evidence that Jesus had just crossed the Jordan and was beginning the actual ascent up to Jerusalem. If so, he was in Judæa. But such a construction strains the language. Jesus had been going up to Jerusalem ever since he started in Galilee, and he may now have still be in Peræa. The parable
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Cii. Bartimæus and his Companion Healed.
(at Jericho.) ^A Matt. XX. 29-34; ^B Mark X. 46-52; ^C Luke XVIII. 35-43. ^c 35 And it came to pass, as he drew nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: 36 and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. [Jesus came from the Jordan, and was entering Jericho by its eastern gate. As the crowd following Jesus passed by, Bartimæus asked its meaning and learned of the presence of Jesus. Jesus on this
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The vineyard Labourers.
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord

Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome.
IT pleased God, to whom all his works are known from eternity, to prepare Gregory by a twofold process, for the great and difficult work of the guidance of the Western Church, then agitated by so many storms. Destined to be plunged into the midst of an immense multitude of avocations of the most varied character, he was trained to bear such a burden by administering, until his fortieth year, an important civil office. Then, yielding to a long-felt yearning of his heart, he retired into a monastery,
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places

The Blessing of Being with Good People. How Certain Illusions were Removed.
1. I began gradually to like the good and holy conversation of this nun. How well she used to speak of God! for she was a person of great discretion and sanctity. I listened to her with delight. I think there never was a time when I was not glad to listen to her. She began by telling me how she came to be a nun through the mere reading of the words of the Gospel "Many are called, and few are chosen." [1] She would speak of the reward which our Lord gives to those who forsake all things for His
Teresa of Avila—The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

Why Men do not Attain Quickly to the Perfect Love of God. Of Four Degrees of Prayer. Of the First Degree. The Doctrine Profitable for Beginners,
1. I speak now of those who begin to be the servants of love; that seems to me to be nothing else but to resolve to follow Him in the way of prayer, who has loved us so much. It is a dignity so great, that I have a strange joy in thinking of it; for servile fear vanishes at once, if we are, as we ought to be, in the first degree. O Lord of my soul, and my good, how is it that, when a soul is determined to love Thee--doing all it can, by forsaking all things, in order that it may the better occupy
Teresa of Avila—The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

The First Last, and the Last First
"But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."--Matthew 19:30. "So the last shall be first, and the first last."--Matthew 20:16. WE MUST BE SAVED if we would serve the Lord. We cannot serve God in an unsaved condition. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is vain for them to attempt service while they are still at enmity against God. The Lord wants not enemies to wait upon him, nor slaves to grace his throne. We must be saved first; and salvation is all of grace.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891

Christ's Resurrection and Our Newness of Life
The idea that the grace of God should lead us to licentiousness is utterly loathsome to every Christian man. We cannot endure it. The notion that the doctrines of grace give license to sin, comes from the devil, and we scout it with a detestation more deep than words can express. "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" On our first entrance upon a Christian profession, we are met by the ordinance of baptism, which teaches the necessity of purification. Baptism is, in its very
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891

The Compassion of Jesus
THIS is said of Christ Jesus several times in the New Testament. The original word is a very remarkable one. It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint. The fact is, it was a word coined by the evangelists themselves. They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one. It is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels--a yearning of the innermost nature with pity. As the dictionaries tell us-- Ex
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 60: 1914

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