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Laborers in the Vineyard
Matthew 20:1-16 Commentary
by Jeannine K. Brown
Jesus often spoke in parables to express something about God and God’s ways in the world.
And these parables -- these stories drawn from mundane and ordinary realities -- frequently ended with a twist. Jesus would start a storyline to lull his hearers into thinking they knew where the story was going and how it would end.
Then the story would take a surprising turn intended to awaken the hearer to a different reality -- a different way of seeing the world and living in it. A Samaritan who proves to be the ideal neighbor (Luke 10), and a king who surprises his followers by being identified with “least of these” (Matthew 25). And in our text, a landowner who virtually gives away a full day’s wage to harvesters who’ve only worked a single hour.
The story begins with a landowner needing workers to harvest in his vineyard. He hires workers in the first hour of the workday (about six am). In quick succession, he hires those who have been waiting for work at 9am, noon, and 3pm. Finally, he hires some workers at 5pm who haven’t been able to find work ...
| Bible Text
Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 354: Laborers in the Vineyard
March 17, 2019
Podcast on Matthew 20:1-16, the Narrative Lectionary readings for March 17, 2019 (Laborers in the Vineyard) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.