Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Five times in one day, a vineyard owner circles the marketplace looking for, and eventually hiring day laborers. And he agrees to pay them a fair wage for their efforts. First at 6:00 a.m., then at 9:00 a.m., noon, and 3:00 p.m., and finally at 5:00 p.m., he solicits help from the aimless and unemployed. Of course, that presents a problem: What formula will he adopt to determine the “appropriate” wages of those on his crew? More importantly, what does this story tell us about the nature of God, the one to whom it points?
Questions For Discussion & Discovery
1. Why does the master of the house make repeated trips to the marketplace, even returning at the end of the day to hire laborers? What characteristics of God are revealed by the master’s tenacity?
2. What is significant about the phrase: “Because no one has hired us” in verse 7?
3. How would you define “grace” in one sentence?
4. Why is grace such a difficult concept for us to accept? How does our culture of earning make embracing grace even more challenging?
5. In what specific ways have you experienced God’s generosity this week? This month?
6. Are their occasions when you are tempted to begrudge God’s generosity to others?
1. Read Matthew 20:1-10.
2. Early morn: 6:00 a.m.
3rd hour: 9:00 a.m.
6th hour: 12:00 p.m.
9th hour: 3:00 p.m.
11th hour: 5:00 p.m.
3. “In the end, the identity of the laborers is less important than the character of the landowner, and what it implies about the character of God.” – Michael Knowles
4. 01. Our God is a relentlessly pursuing God, who deals with us not according to what we deserve but according to his grace.
5. “God has arranged for their recompense to be based only on the weird goodness that he is famous for, not on the just deserts they have infamously imagined for themselves.” – Robert Capon
6. Read Matthew 20:10-16.
7. 02. Grace is unsettling, but it is especially offensive to those who think they have exceeded everyone else’s contributions.
8. “By instinct I feel I must do something in order to be accepted. Grace sounds a startling note of contradiction, of liberation, and every day I must pray anew for the ability to hear its message.” – Philip Yancey
9. Read Matthew 20:3-4 again.
10. 03. Grace evokes action, a response motivated not by fear but compelled by gratitude (and love).