Monday in the Twenty-Second Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 20:1-16

Amazing Grace

The story is told that the great sixteenth-century Reformer, Martin Luther, was struck by the phrase, “the righteousness of God,” in Romans 1:17: “For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed for faith from faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”  For a long time, he was terrified by that term, thinking that it referred to God’s terrible and awful standard of righteousness by which He judged the world, which was the customary way that the phrase had been understood through medieval times.  But Luther finally came to understand that the righteousness of God is not that incomparable standard which no one can meet on Judgment Day, but, on the contrary, the righteousness whereby God makes men righteous through his Son, Jesus Christ – by redeeming them through His Son’s sacrifice and justifying them through His Son’s blood.  It was Luther’s grand “reformation breakthrough” in which he recovered the gospel that had been for too long buried underneath medieval theology.

In this parable, Jesus tells a story which seems on the surface grossly unfair.  An employer hires out men to work in his vineyard.  Some work twelve hours (all day), some work nine hours, some six, some three, and some but one.  He had agreed with the first to pay them a denarius for the day.  At the end of the day, beginning with the last who had worked but one hour, each man received a denarius.  The first “grumbled at the master” thinking they should receive more than those who worked less, especially those who worked only one hour.  But the master responds that he gave them what they had previously arranged and says, “I choose to give to the last worker as I give to you.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?  Or do you begrudge my generosity?”  The master had made no previous agreement with the others, only that he would pay them “whatever is right.”  The master chose to make them equal with the first, and in doing so, he wronged no one.

And this is the grace of God: that he forgives sinners, even the worst, and clothes them in His Son’s righteousness through faith.  It matters not who they were, but what He has made them upon saving faith.  Jesus ends the parable with what he said on several occasions, “So the last will be first, and the first last.”  Jesus isn’t teaching us about labor relations in this world; he is teaching us about the grace of God that can save a slaver such as John Newton, who then penned the greatest hymn of all time, “Amazing Grace,” because the righteousness of God even covered him – and even us.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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