Quitting time. My favorite time of day. Packing up my gear, putting away the tools. Cleaning up and setting up for tomorrow. It’s a great time of day. What if you walked onto the job at quitting time and still got paid for the whole day?
That’s what happened in Jesus’ story in Matthew 20.
“20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”’
Some of us are reaching quitting time, not just of a job or a career but of life. It is the eleventh hour. The sun is setting. What does God want from us? What will God do for us?
The characters in the parable were all paid the same. No matter how late in the day they got started on the job, everyone got the same reward. This was great news for those who arrived late. It really made those who worked all day mad. If we look at this through the lens of becoming a Christian, I was saved at 20, I have been following Jesus, serving him, “working in the vineyard” for 40 years so far. I know a man who was saved on his deathbed, literally dying 2 days after he received Jesus. Being bed ridden he wasn’t up for much kingdom building. We both get the same reward. I am okay with that. It wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t. God is “owner of the vineyard” so he sets the pay scale. I rejoice over the man who entered into the kings service, just in time to be entered into the Kings presence.
Jesus died to pay for our sins. All of them. Whether it’s the grocery sack full of the at age 16 or 26 or a cargo ship full at 56 or 66 or 76. The age doesn’t matter and the amount doesn’t matter. Jesus died to pay for our sins. You only have to ask. Forgiveness is for all at any age, even at the eleventh hour.
God wants his kids to come home. Will you accept his gift of salvation today?