The uncalculating generosity of God in Matthew 20 video discussion

The lectionary reading for Trinity 16 in Year A is the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matt 20.1–16. Once more in the lectionary we are focussing on Jesus’ teaching that is recorded only in Matthew, just as we did with the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matt 18. Like the previous parable, this one is, in style and content, quite characteristic of Jesus’ teaching elsewhere, and it shares the introduction of ‘the kingdom of heaven it like…’ a person—so there is no real case for supposing that this was a later creation rather than going back to the actual teaching of Jesus.

Join James and Ian as they discuss this passage and its meaning, and some of the issues involved in preaching on this.

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18 thoughts on “The uncalculating generosity of God in Matthew 20 video discussion”

  1. An interesting preamble: I wonder if Matthew’s inclusion of this story relates to him being a business man as different to Mark? Initially it is a business contract.
    As a parable of the kingdom are we are not meant to get some kind of insight into an other worldly view of the kingdom life?
    Two things strike me, one is Justice the other Covetousness
    Today there is a preponderance of people seeking /demanding justice without reference to God or God’s view of it.
    Of covetousness, well this is a unique theme from beginning to the end of Scripture
    Covetousness is viewed as idolatry. The opposite of coveting is contentment.
    The chapter continues with a mother’s request for preferment for her sons to sit either side of Christ in his kingdom. Many people are coveting a blessing that others enjoy,
    Is it the blessing of the Church or the blessing [happiness ] of God they seek?
    Regarding blessings by priests; of such blessing I can only find one.
    The text of the blessing is found in Numbers 6:23–27.

    According to the Torah, Aaron blessed the people, and YHWH
    promises that “They (the Priests) will place my name on the Children of Israel (the Priests will bless the people), and I will bless them”. The Chazal stressed that although the priests are the ones carrying out the blessing, it is not them or the ceremonial practice of raising their hands that results in the blessing, but rather it is God’s desire that the blessing should be symbolized by the Kohanim’s hands.
    It seems to me that this is the only acceptable form of blessing to be practiced.

    • Hi Alan

      Interesting observation about Matthew and finance. This is the list of parables unique to Matthew:

      Kingdom of Heaven likened to field sown with weeds (13:24-30)
      Interpretation of same parable (13:36-43)
      Net that gathered fish of all kinds (13:47-50)
      Treasure hidden in field
      Pearl of great price (13:44-46)
      The unforgiving servant (18:23-35)
      The Laborers in the vineyard (20: 1-16)
      The two sons (21:28-32)
      The wise and the foolish virgins (25:1-13)

      It is interesting to note that the majority (though not all) of them are to do with work or economic issues. I suspect this is a higher proportion than elsewhere…

      • Matthew’s Gospel was addressed mainly to Jews living in Palestine. Given its audience, its not surprising that Matthew takes materialistic objects and switches their meaning. The Jews were expecting an earthly Messiah – not a suffering servant. Jesus wants us to trust in Him and not wealth. No Christian should become taken up with material things that cut him off from God. The Lord wants us to use material resources as means to an end.

    • Bit narrow. There are many blessings in the Old Testament. We also know Jesus blessed those He encountered: the little children (Mark 10:13-16) and the apostles at the ascension (Luke 24:50-53). And He blessed objects: the loaves used to feed the 5000 (Mark 6:34) and the bread at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-30).

        • Well, HJ looks forward to your explanation.


          “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

          Paul describes a Eucharist celebrated in connection with a common supper shared in the homes of the early Christians. This supper included the blessing of the bread and wine, the breaking of the bread, and communion.

          “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16)

          • Hi HJ… Too late to go to my Gk…

            But 1 Corinthians depends on the translation… The NIV Eg…

            “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?”

            Not a blessing of the bread there

          • The problem is that

            a. all the NT writers use eulogeo ‘bless’ interchangeably with ‘eucharisteo’ ‘give thanks’, so the object of the action is God, not the thing.

            b. The reason for the use of eulogeo is as a translation of the Hebrew b-r-k to ‘bless’ God, as in Ps 103 ‘Bless the Lord O my soul’. Hence the correct ESV translation ‘said the blessing [of God] over…’

            Whole article coming tomorrow!

  2. I really enjoyed this video conversation. FWIW, I live in the USA and when I visit family in Los Angeles I see the casual labor situation. In some places the day laborers are lined up in the morning at agencies, looking for work. At Home Depot (a Mega hardware store) there are usually a number of folk waiting in the shade for people who need people to work on their projects for which they have just purchased the lumber etc., needed for the job. Even in our country we still have this kind of informal economy. Also, a very stratified economy of the haves and those who have less and less and so depend upon someone finding them (Lost Sheep?). We so need a generous God.

  3. HJ, You missed my point completely. my reference was regarding
    Priestly or even Church blessings of things or people and that the priestly blessing mentioned was not the blessing of the priest but a request that God Himself would be pleased to bless the people. The priest has no authority to bless anything or any body but is a request that God might confere a blessing. How can God bless some
    one who is living contrary to His known injunctions and laws.
    Jesus did bless children because he could and wanted to.

      • As do Catholic and Orthodox priests when acting in the person of Christ. The priest in the sacrament of confession is acting in the person of Jesus Christ (in persona christi). When the priest absolves the penitent, he doesn’t say, “God absolves you from your sins” but rather “I absolve you from your sins,” because he is acting in the person of Christ at that moment.

    • According to Strong’s Concordance, the word can mean a number of things:

      1. to praise, celebrate with praises, the giving of thanks;

      2. to invoke blessings, of one taking leave, of one at the point of death, in congratulations, praised, blessed;

      3. with the accusative of a thing, to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers; to ask God’s blessing on a thing, pray him to bless it to one’s use, pronounce a consecratory blessing on;

      4. of God, to cause to prosper, to make happy, to bestow blessings on.

  4. I fear that some on here do not understand the meaning of:-
    [1]What is a Druid ?[and the bard strand of it’s * threefold doctrine*]
    What is the meaning of Righteousness.
    And what is the meaning of the 1st commandment.
    [1] see Druidry for Beginners
    Spirituality+Health › druidry-for-begin…
    That many *churchmen* have embraced it does not surprise, given the depth of Apostasy[Lit. moving away] currently amongst us. I am almost sure that some clergy *bless* their folks with
    *may the force be with you*
    One other point. I am sure that there are many decent folks that
    are clubable until we discover their spiritual and perverted core.
    God does not look on the outward appearance but seeks truth in the inward parts. As Jesus said “you cannot serve two masters”

  5. I’ve only preached about a dozen times and one of the few times I got to choose my topic, this was it. You touched on the main point I set out to make to my church in 2012.
    This parable is like the prodigal son. There are three parties: The gracious one representing God, the recipient of grace and who I called the “grumbling faithful”. In my thinking, our church folk would celebrate with the angels when sinners repent or people join the church – so not like the “grumbling faithful” of Luke 15.
    But if Johnny-come-lately started to outrank them – if the newcomers or those we’re trying to reach were given more consideration than those who have kept the church going for decades – then we’d hear grumbling!


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