Sermon Audio

The Kingdom of God turns every other reality upside down and inside out. This is the mystery of God’s bold generosity: God chooses from the bottom and lifts up the lowly. It’s how God has worked all along, the whole world gets flipped on its’ head. We live in a Great Reversal where many of the first end up being last and the last first.

Jesus said: But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. The landowner agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into the vineyard.

At about nine in the morning the landowner went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

The landowner went out again at about noon and at about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. At about five in the afternoon the landowner went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

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.’ The workers who were hired at about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 

So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘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.’

But the landowner answered, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last. 
– Matthew 19:30 – 20:16 (NRSV)