Parable of the Vineyard Workers
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next five weeks, kids will be learning five parables that Jesus taught about God’s kingdom. The religious leaders who listened to and watched Jesus had some problems with the things He said and did. He taught about a righteousness that comes by faith rather than works, and He was friends with tax collectors and sinners. So Jesus told a parable to make clear that entering God’s kingdom was not a matter of merit but of grace.
The parable of the vineyard workers is about a landowner who hired workers to work in his vineyard. The first group agreed to work for a denarius, a fair wage for a day’s work. Throughout the day, the landowner hired more groups of workers. At the end of the day, the landowner paid every worker one denarius. The workers who had put in 12 hours did not think it was fair that those who worked just 1 hour were paid the same.
In Jesus’ parable, the second, third, fourth, and fifth groups of workers represent people who are not a part of the nation of Israel. The Israelites had been following God for generations. They faced trials, paralleling the men who worked through the heat of the day. God promised blessings to Abraham’s family, Israel. (See Gen. 12:2-3.) God kept His promise, yet He also poured out blessings on tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles.
Like the landowner and his wealth, God is free to share His grace as He desires. Jesus gave salvation to the criminal who was crucified next to Him and to Saul, who persecuted believers. Does God act fairly in saving people who have not followed Him their entire lives? The reward—eternal life—is God’s grace to those who believe, whether they believe at the first or at the last.
God does not owe us anything, yet He pours out blessings on us. He makes salvation possible for us, regardless of our abilities or efforts. The last will be first, and the first last. Jesus’ parable teaches about God’s grace. God is generous, and He loves us. We deserve to die for our sins, but God gives us what we don’t deserve—salvation through His Son, Jesus.