Today’s reading: Matthew 20
Yesterday, we witnessed the transfer of power from the 44th President of the United States to the 45th President of the United States. Like many Presidents who have gone before, our 44th President exercised his authority to grant a variety of pardons and commutations before he left office – 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations to be exact. These are a big deal, as they release offenders from all future consequences that would have otherwise accompanied their conviction(s). Did you know granting pardons is a unilateral power of the President of the United States? This means the decisions aren’t reviewed, and cannot be overturned by the court, Congress or even the incoming President. With one act, an offender’s conviction is wiped away and freedom is granted. What a powerful illustration of mercy.
- Mercy – compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power.
- Forbearance – a refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt, right, or obligation) that is due.
Our text today in Matthew 20 covers the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. In this story, the landowner hired laborers to work in his vineyard throughout the course of the day. When it came time to pay them, he used a last-in/first-out method, paying those who had worked the shortest time first and those who had worked all day last. The issue was, he paid them all the same amount, regardless of how long they had worked. Those hired in the morning were mad. While the landowner kept his promise and paid them the amount on which they had agreed, these workers felt shortchanged. They believed their longer hours should have earned them more money than the others.
Do you see the lesson? This was not a parable about hard work, equality or justice. It was about mercy. The landowner showed compassion to workers hired later in the day. He paid them a full day’s wage instead of just paying them what they had earned. In the same way, God chooses to bestow mercy on those who follow him. He doesn’t make us suffer the consequences of our sins. Rather through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he wipes away our conviction and grants us freedom. He offers each of us a pardon. We have not earned it, and we certainly don’t deserve it.
- For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
In preparation for my post this week, I was reminded of two very humbling lessons about God’s grace and mercy Jesus taught through this parable:
- When you decide to put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are entitled to all the rights and benefits he promises, regardless of how early or late in life you made the decision – (Ephesians 1:13-14).
- If you think you deserve more in God’s Kingdom because you worked harder or lived a better life than someone else, you’ve forgotten how you got in. By his grace and mercy, God saved you from sin and death. You certainly didn’t earn or deserve it – (Ephesians 2:8).
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).
I am humbled, and eternally grateful for God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.