Sunday, November 2, 2014
Blog # 393 God's Vineyard
Blog # 393 God's Vineyard
At the time in Jesus' ministry when Matthew has Jesus present the Parable of the vineyard large crowds of people were coming out to listen to Him teach. (Mat. 20: 1 - 16). We can easily go back in our imagination and join them as they listen.
Men women and children are in the crowd. There are fishermen, carpenters, business people. There are old, wrinkled men. There are youths full of life and vigor. There are babies sleeping in their mother's arms. People just like you and me, but two thousand years ahead of us in the story of creation and human life on earth.
Jesus is teaching us all, the rich the poor, the blind, the lame, the young and the old. And well can He teach, for He is the Word, of whom John speaks at the beginning of his Gospel saying: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Then John goes on to say the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And now we have Jesus here before us, God Himself, yet one of us, teaching.
God, all-good, knowing all truth, powerful enough to create the heat of the sun, the beauty of the stars and the moon, and the goodness of a mother's love, Lord and Master, now our brother, Jesus the Savior of the world is here before us teaching, teaching all who would come listen and learn, then as well as now, you and I, sinners some, but all, Jesus is going to say, potentially holy happy people. His teaching on this occasion would be in the form of the parable of the workers in a vineyard. . It is a good story and has power to call, direct, comfort, and challenge us, each in our own way.
Though I do not think the following insight is a common one among those who read the parable in Matthew, I think the parable is significantly enriched if we see the vineyard as the entire world and all of creation. It belongs to God. It is His vineyard. To see and experience creation, including ourselves, rightly, we must never forget that fact. It is all God's vineyard. From the beginning God calls all of creation to come into existence and to 'work' in God's vineyard. There are many workers. Sun, moon, wind, earth, water, colors, shapes, and sounds all 'work' in God's vineyard merely by existing, without awareness or freedom, with no choice to do so. Other workers like ourselves and the angels, equipped with the gift of freedom, are called in freedom to the special 'work' of the vineyard called love. There is morning. noon, and evening and eventually the end of the day.
We seem to have been in the habit of imagining the work to be done in the present parable of Jesus in the limited work of picking grapes. But there is a great variety of work to be done in managing a vineyard. So in creation. There is the work of preparing and fertilizing the soil, removing rocks, tending bee hives, trimming the vines. The work of picking grapes is special and requires special skill and attention. So the work of men and women working in the broader application of the term vineyard to all of creation. For Christians working there it requires the skill of living in freedom and discovering what it means to love.
This last consideration is helpful in identifying the difference between the workers in the parable who worked all day and those hired late. Matthew makes it clear the first workers complained and were dissatisfied. He leaves it to us easily to conclude the workers hired late were happy and content.
What a privilege it is to have such a teacher as Jesus.. And what a shame it would be if we had no time, if we skipped class, if we did not listen and learn. May we cherish the teachings of Jesus in the Bible. May we spend time with Him there, listening and learning, May our hearts be open to His love!
Let's continue this in another Blog. The Lord be with you !