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May 16, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?’”—Matthew 20:13 (NKJV)
We now come to the conclusion that Jesus gave in response to Peter’s question about being rewarded for following Him. It was more than an honest question. It was attached to an expectation, a sense of special entitlement that has no place in God’s kingdom. This parable’s purpose is to expose this, but there’s more detail to cover before we get to the conclusion.
To recap, a vineyard owner hired different groups of workers at different times of the day. He then pays them, but he pays them the same amount. This didn’t sit well with those who had worked all day, because given these differences, they expected to receive more for having worked more.
But now the owner shares something profound, and if we listen closely we can hear the Lord speaking it to us as well. He reminds those who assumed they deserved more, those who felt entitled to more, that they originally agreed to what they were eventually given! The owner kept his word, even though they had altered their expectations. He elaborates: “Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:14-16 NKJV).
Here we have the clincher that answers Peter’s articulated attitude of entitlement. The owner, and in fact God, says that he reserves the right to give what he wants to who he wants. The owner is not obligated to fulfill anyone else’s expectations, and God is not obligated to fulfill anyone else’s expectations, either.
Remember, Peter was under the impression that he and his fellow disciples were entitled to a great reward in light of all they had given up. The problem; however, is that this thinking puts more focus on the reward than on the Lord; and given enough time and space, Peter would be chasing the reward instead of following the Lord!
This parable corrects that fatal tendency by reminding us that the reward cannot be the focus or the motivation for following Jesus. If it is, then we will be disappointed because God won’t always appease our expectations. The last will be first and the first will be last. The reward is irrelevant when the focus is the Lord, because we can entrust our sense of expectations to Him.
DIG: What does this parable correct in its characters? In Peter? In us?
DISCOVER: Where was Peter starting to lose his focus?
DO: Today, think of ways you can ensure you’re focusing on the Lord instead of His rewards.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.