The Laborers in the Vineyard

Text: Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus often spoke in parables when He taught about the kingdom. In this parable, He explained the nature of His kingdom and the responsibility of its citizens. This lesson will examine six lessons we can learn from this parable.

The Lord is Looking for Workers (v. 1)

  • In the parable, the landowner represents the Lord – He is seeking those who will work for Him
  • Once He finds us, He expects us to work (1 Corinthians 15:58; James 1:22; 2:24)

We May Serve the Lord After Agreeing to Do So (v. 2)

  • In the parable, the laborers started work only after an agreement was made with the landowner
  • The Lord does not force us to obey Him – otherwise He would have forced the Jews instead of lamenting over their rejection of Him (Matthew 23:37)
  • He invites us, but we must agree to take up His yoke and allow Him to guide us (Matthew 11:28-30)

The Lord is Always Looking for More Workers (v. 3-7)

  • In the parable, the landowner repeatedly went out searching for more workers
  • Christ is always looking for people who will work in His kingdom (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 10:34-35)

Time Will Eventually Run Out (v. 8)

  • In the parable, hours are counted down until they reach the end of the work day
  • This represents the counting down of time until the end of the world – even though the Lord wants none to perish, the day of the Lord will still come (2 Peter 3:9-10); besides this, our lives could end at any time (James 4:14)
  • It will not do us any good to have had good intentions to work for the Lord later (Luke 12:16-21) – we must serve Him now

All Will Receive the Same Reward (v. 9-10)

  • In the parable, all the workers received the same wage, regardless of the number of hours they worked
  • Paul looked forward to the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8) – it was not just for him, but for all the faithful
  • After the Lord returns, all the faithful “will live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:10) – this is our common reward

The Lord Will Do What He Wishes with His Own (v. 11-16)

  • In the parable, those who worked all day thought it was unfair that others received the same reward, even though they agreed to the payment
  • Most understand the concept of personal property rights (we can use what is ours as we see fit) – Jesus is appealing to this principle here
  • The Lord has gone to “prepare a place” for us in heaven (John 14:2-3) – since it is His dwelling place, we can only reach the reward through Him (John 14:6); it is not unfair for God to place certain conditions upon salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)


  • The Lord wants laborers in His vineyard – He has promised a reward, but we must agree to do the work and labor according to His instructions
  • The “reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:12) – but we will not receive it until the work day is over
  • So let us remain active and faithful in the work of the kingdom

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