We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. John 9:4-5
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, “You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.” And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And 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?” They said to him, “Because no one hired us.” He said to them, “You go into the vineyard too.” When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.” When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, “These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.” But he answered and said to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” So the last shall be first, and the first last.” Matthew 20:1-16
Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:
Our Devotional set for this week is all about grace. When God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus, into the world, he did so as an expression of grace. Everything about Jesus while he was here was about grace: his life, his ministry, and his sacrifice. At one point Jesus said to his followers, “As the Father sent me, so send I you.” Jesus was on a mission of grace when he was
here and now with Jesus living in us and through us by means of the Holy Spirit, we are on a mission of grace as well. In today’s verses from John 9, Jesus speaks of this mission as the “work” we are called to do. Each day this week we will look at a passage that we help us understand better the “work” of the mission God calls us to fulfill. In addition, each day we will look at a portion of the above story from Matthew 20 that will help us understand better the dynamic of “grace” that permeates the true mission of God in this broken world of ours.
At Cape Cod Church we speak regularly about “living fully.” “Living fully” – what does it truly mean? How would you explain to someone what it means to live fully? Here are some thoughts: Wanting a full life is a universal desire, but what makes life full varies from person to person. For most of us we are naturally drawn to things pertaining to our own personal comfort. It ends up that gaining, maintaining, and adding new comforts becomes what “living fully” is all about. How many people get to the end of their lives and realize the life they lived included things they shouldn’t have lived for at all, included things they should have lived for more fully, and didn’t include things they should have lived for and missed all together? Comfort is not what “living fully” is all about. “Living fully” is all about the advancement of God’s kingdom and not the advancement of earthly life.
Our John 9 passage focuses on the urgency for us to live fully for God, but it speaks of this in terms of “work.” In essence, living fully for God is “working” for God. Jesus is the one who is speaking and notice that he says, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me.” Jesus was sent by God the Father to accomplish redemption so that we could become his disciples and join him in “working the works of God.” This is our true calling in life. Notice the words “day” and “night” in our passage. “Night” refers to the end when God wraps things up and “day” refers to the time that remains before the end comes. When the end comes, we will not be able to “work” (live fully) for God. So, as long as it is still “day,” “we (you and me joining Jesus) must work the works of Him (God, the Father) who sent Me (Jesus).” The urgency of living fully for God and working for the sake of his kingdom is clear. This must become our true calling in life.
As followers of Christ we understand the shift that comes to us through redemption. We are called to move away from the pursuit of “living fully” for ourselves to “living fully” for God. We anticipate the joy awaiting us at the end when we will know that we have lived fully for God when he says, “well done.” It will mean we did not settle for the lesser life of living for our own comfort and security. It will mean we chose a life of living sacrificially for God’s kingdom where people and relationships were the priority as God used us to bless them in ways that count for eternity. So, there is truly an urgency for being engaged in the work of advancing God’s mission. This week we are referring to this mission as God’s mission of grace and it is our Matthew 20 passage that will help us better understand the centrality of grace in God’s mission.
We are not going to say a lot today about our Matthew 20 passage. Read it over a couple of times and seek to zero in for yourself how it speaks of “grace.” Jot down your thoughts. Also, note today’s highlighted portion. It says the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out and etc. We are being told that we will find out what the kingdom of heaven is like through what the landlord did. What he did teaches us about grace and this will help us grasp more fully what God’s kingdom is all about. This in turn will help us in our pursuit of doing well the work of God’s kingdom as we seek to live fully for him.
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
Lord, I realize that when I am living for myself, I am not only not living for you, I am not really “living fully” at all. I want to be one who joins you, Jesus, in working the works of your kingdom. Help me to let go of working for myself. Teach me how the work of my vocation goes together with the work of your kingdom. Teach me all about your mission of grace. Show me the fullness of what it means to join you, Jesus, in the true calling that is mine as your follower. Amen!