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Gospel

A Sermon on Matthew 20:1-16

Laborers in the Vineyard

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this 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?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” (ESV)

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Don’t misunderstand the Kingdom of God. In an age where people are clamoring for fairness, it can be hard for Christians to stand strong on the biblical teachings regarding salvation and eternal life. The parable in this sermon reinforces that we are in grave danger of misunderstanding the Kingdom of God and the reason that Jesus came, and consequently, we must take active steps to guard against this. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes the listener through Matthew 20:1-16, showing its emphasis that the claims of the Kingdom of God oftentimes come as a surprise and against the grain of what the natural man would assume to be true. Yet, it is through these very truths that Scripture also helps us to glean crucial truths about God and eternity. This parable, he explains, shows the difference between a true and a false salvation. Many misunderstand the Kingdom of God and hold to a false salvation that is rooted in the belief that eternal life is a reward for a good life on earth. But besides offering no hope to a sinful person, it misses the entire glory of our free salvation in Christ — every one of us justly deserve hell because we have all broken God’s Law, yet Christ was offered as an acceptable substitute in our place in the reception of God’s wrath. Don’t misunderstand the Kingdom of God — salvation has been offered to you. Repent and believe today.


Additional Scripture Translations

Matthew 20:1-16, New American Standard Bible

Laborers in the Vineyard

1“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and to those he said, ‘You go into the vineyard also, and whatever is right, I will give you.’ And so they went. 5Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ 7They *said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He *said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’

8“Now when evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, starting with the last group to the first.’ 9When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10And so when those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12saying, ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day’s work and the scorching heat.’ 13But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14Take what is yours and go; but I want to give to this last person the same as to you. 15Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last shall be first, and the first, last.”

Matthew 20:1-16, King James Version

1For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.


About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.