Just My Take – Parable of the Workers


“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” WHAT?

This parable is from Matthew 20.  The reason why I’m writing is that I’ve heard two times that this parable is about how people who accept Christ early and those who accept Him late, say on the death-bed, are equal in that they both receive heaven from Christ.  I’ve heard it twice, so I thought it must be right.  But when I thought about it more…that doesn’t makes sense.  Is the denarius = heaven?  Why are the people who worked all day (early acceptors of Christ) complaining?  The landowner, who must be the King or Jesus or GOD, seems upset at the ones that worked all day.  Is Jesus upset at those who accept Him early in life?  I’ve never heard anyone who accepted Christ early complain of unfairness that someone accepted the LORD before they died.  Instead they rejoiced!  You see what I see?

I think saying that this is about heaven is a leap.  It can be…kind of.  But this parable, I believe, illustrates some principles.  The main one is  GOD gives us what we need regardless of whether we deserve it or not.  This cannot be applied to unbelievers and heaven because, unbelievers need to ‘believe in’ Christ before they can enter the Kingdom.  But, for example, our daily bread is given from GOD.  The workers who only worked one hour receive all they needed.  They were ‘unlucky’ that no one wanted to hire them til the end of the day.  But, GOD sees what they need and generously gave them their daily bread.

I do not think this is about how GOD doesn’t want us to work hard.  GOD does not want us to be lazy.  But the next principle this demonstrates is now GOD is about faith not works.  When Jesus Christ came He just wanted us to trust and obey Him; have faith in Him and be in relationship with Him.  He is the superman.  He will help us, if we let Him.  Jesus Christ wants us to trust in His leadership and provision not in our own abilities (in our own works or hands).

We can also take a side trip and discuss Law versus Faith, if you don’t mind.  When Moses gave the 10 Commandments and the rest of the law, the deal was obey all of these rules and you will have blessings galore from GOD.  After hundreds of years of disobedience, the New Testament writers said that the Law just pointed to people’s need for a Christ or Saviour.  People are unable to keep all the rules.  We lack the power.  And that’s where the Messiah or Christ comes in.  Through faith and trust in Him, He will empower you and change you so that you can keep the rules.  The Bible says that the rules are now written on our hearts.  But you have to stay in relationship with Him, as Christ says ‘He is the vine, we are the branches.  You can do nothing without me’.  You need to abide or stay in communion with Him for His power to flow through you.

Okay, back to the parable…

This parable also uplifts some attitudes that we as citizens of the Kingdom, children of the Most High GOD should have.

That’s what the last will be first and the first will be last is talking about.  Something the first (the workers) did makes them last (say, in the Kingdom) and something the last (the..I’ll call them the believers) did makes them first (in the Kingdom).  The workers who were hired first negotiated their pay and we’ll see later on they argued with the landowner for more pay because they were working for money.  They were ‘workers’ in the pure sense, because they were in charge asking for a certain pay from the landlord, wanting to negotiate (like thinking in hourly terms), their sense of worth (‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’) was based on their work and money.

But the ones who came later (‘the believers), simply went to work when the landowner ordered them to.  This demonstrates obedience and a child-like heart.  They trusted the landowner to pay them whatever was right.  The ones that came really late didn’t even mention getting paid.  Crazy huh?  I’ve heard it said that these later workers are like children of GOD, who receive from the Father rather than like hirelings who work for money.  I like this explanation.

This parable comes in Matthew after the Rich Young Ruler comes to talk with Christ.  So this parable probably is at least a little about possessions and the Kingdom.  We see here that GOD really owns it all.  He is the landowner.  He just gives us what we need.  And it is better to be in relationship with Him, obeying and trusting as a son or daughter and receving…than having the attitude of a worker, hireling, or mercenary.  Because afterall, if we are his heirs, he will give us the vineyard!  And we all know that when you own the business you work harder and better than if you are just a worker.

And we see New Testament writers saying this.  Through Christ, we have been made the family of GOD.  We are no longer seen as just servants.  Moses called himself servant of GOD.  Jesus Christ called his disciples ‘His friends’.  So we see a transition, that is most beautiful, all through the works of our great LORD, Jesus.  Thank you Jesus!

Servants of GOD –> Friends of GOD –>  Now, children of GOD!!!

Amen?  What do you think?

Leave a comment


  1. Interesting observations and food for thought. I like seeing new ideas applied to raggy old interpretations.

  2. jchenwa

     /  August 26, 2009

    Thank you. You have a nice website.

  3. Hello. My name is Chris. I’m from USA. I’m new to this forum, i was hoping you could maybe teach me some stuff.

    This is me-> http://lmageshack.us/img/chrisP.jpg – Just so you know who i am! feel free to post your own photos. Allways best to know who you talk to!

  4. I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work

  5. Cool site, love the info.

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  7. Thanks all for your kind words and encouragement. Those that have something to offer, I will definitely visit your sites. Those who have questions, please feel comfortable to ask away. I’ll give you my take, which is by no means final. Please listen, and make up your own minds. Jesus is the Truth.

  8. Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! :)

  9. jchenwa

     /  September 13, 2009

    I’m sorry Chris, I couldn’t see your picture.

  10. Thanks Bill!

  11. Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

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  12. I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read.. :)


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