Today’s Readings: Psalm 116; Zephaniah 3:1-13; Matthew 20:1-16; 1 Peter 2:11-25
During the Lenten season eight and a half years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a Bible study led by the interim pastor of my home church at the time. The study was a series exploring the parables of Jesus.
In that Bible study, the pastor commented that Jesus is sneaky in the way he set up his parables because he was always giving us details that – in the larger scope of things – weren’t relevant to the point he was trying to make. Those details were given as a sort of test to see if you could see beyond the details and grasp his larger point.
In today’s parable from Matthew, for instance, Jesus gives lots of details about the times of day the various workers started working. Those details are given to set us up to assume those who worked longer hours would get paid more. Jesus point, however, is that in the end everyone got the same payoff - regardless of when the individuals started working.
The parable is one more example of how the values Jesus’ points us toward often don’t make sense by human standards. The values he calls us to contain more grace, more mercy, and more compassion that we dare imagine. That’s why we so often get caught off guard by the lesson of Jesus’ parables. So how do Jesus’ expansive values affect you? Do they put you off because they don’t seem “fair” according to human standards; or do they excite and motivate you to further explore the radically inclusive values which Jesus embodied? Til next time…