The Labourers in the Vineyard
“When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage” (NRSV, Matthew 20: 9)
The parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard vividly illustrates the truth that God does not think as human beings think, and that in our hopes of eternal life we are wholly dependent on his compassion and generosity.
It was evidently a busy time in the vineyard and the owner was taking on extra men in order to keep pace with the work. Accordingly first thing in the morning he went to the market square where, in that simple society, the day labourers who were unattached to any particular farm or vineyard, used to gather in the hope of being given a job.
He found some men already waiting there, and these he engaged, and agreed with them to pay the normal wage for a day’s work. He made three more visits to the market square – at about nine o’clock, noon and three o’clock – and on each occasion he was able to take on more men whom he promised to pay a fair wage. At about five o’clock, an hour before the men knocked off work, he went up once again and found others there hanging about on the off chance of picking up a job. These also he sent into the vineyard.