The parable of the day labor workers and the landowner is recorded in Matthew 20:1-16. Jesus is comparing the kingdom of Heaven to wages for a hard day’s work. In the story, some laborers were hired early in the day and worked all day long in the vineyard in the scorching sun. As the day progressed, the landowner called a second group to work, then a third. Close to dusk there were still laborers who had not yet been hired. The landowner instructed them to join the others in the field. At dusk the landowner instructed his steward to pay the laborers who had begun work last a full day’s wage. In fact all the laborers called to the vineyard that day were paid the same wage. Thus, the last were paid first, and the first were paid last. Their reward was the same.
Many people begin their walk with Jesus at an early age, perhaps the day they are born, perhaps their first day of Sunday school. Likewise many people begin their walk with Jesus at a later time in their life, perhaps when they enter adulthood, or even in the last stage of their life. The parable of the day labor workers is truly great news for all of us. We are all guaranteed and promised the same wage, eternal life in Heaven.
There is only one reward, and we share in God’s reward equally. There is no corporate ladder to climb, no echelon to overcome. No merit review. In God’s eyes, all who follow Jesus are entitled to the same reward. It does not matter whether a person is at the helm of a mega-church, or a humble janitor at the corner storefront mission. We are all the same. We are all entitled to a fair day’s wage.
Jesus’ parable indicated that there is work to be done, in God’s vineyard, as we follow Christ along our path to Heaven. Let it be a labor of love.