The Parables – Laborers in the Vineyard, Pharisee and Publican, pt.1

This Tuesday we will be reading through the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard found in Matthew 19:30-20:16 and the parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee found in Luke 18:9-14.  Attached are Bailey’s and ++Dmitri’s short analyses of these two parables for your review. In both of these parables, the antagonists believe that the reward of the kingdom is only for themselves and not the other. The overarching theme of the parables is that neither Envy nor Pride have a place in the Kingdom of God.  As we discussed last week, we should be able to see ourselves in each character of a parable. Please read through these parables more than once, each time from the standpoint of a different character.

In the parable of The Laborers and the Vineyard, there are four primary characters (or groups of characters): the laborers hired early in the day, those hired late in the day, the manager, and the owner.  As you read through the parable look specifically at why those who were hired last, were not hired earlier.  Who do these characters represent?  And do we as existing laborers have any role regarding those who are not yet laborers?  Also, pay special attention to the personality and actions of the owner. As Bailey writes, large estate owners usually don’t go into town to find laborers, they have staff for that, yet this owner did. Who is the owner in the parable, and how do these actions disclose the personality of the owner to us?

As to the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, think of the lesson Jesus is drawing.  Although the style of prayer is the vehicle of the lesson, the lesson itself is about those who “trusted in themselves that were righteous and despised others.” Matt. 18:9.  As we looked at last week, no other Jew would have kept the 613 Commandments of the Old Testament better than the Pharisee, and he knew it. In fact, this Pharisee went beyond his scriptural duties, since Scripture only commands a tithe of the fruits of the earth (Lev 27:30, Deut. 14:23) but this Pharisee tithed everything.  In Philippians, Paul tells us what it was like as a Pharisee before his experience of Christ on the road to Damascus: “If anyone else thinks he has a reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” Phil. 3:4-6. Paul, the Pharisee, was righteous because he was of the right religion, kept the commandments, and looked down upon, separated himself from, and persecuted those who didn’t. As we read through the parable, think about how we are like a Pharisee. What boxes do we tick to prove our righteousness?  The Pharisee had the 613 commandments (plus his additions). What rules to we have? His self-righteousness came from obedience to the law, where does our self-righteousness come from? And, what people do we hate and cast out because they can’t tick those same boxes or follow the same rules?  And, as in the verse below, who do we exclude in God’s name?  But in our self-analysis, as Bailey points out, once I can proudly proclaim “Thank God I’m not like the Pharisee (or the Catholics or the Baptists or the Episcopalians),” then I am. 

Dinner is at 6. Discussion begins around 6:45. The menu this week is meatloaf. We hope to see you here.

Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool;
  what is the house that you would build for me,
    and what is the place of my rest?

All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things came to be,
    declares the Lord.

But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
    and trembles at my word.

Hear the word of the Lord,
    you who tremble at his word:
“Your brothers who hate you
    and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified,
    that we may see your joy’;
    but it is they who shall be put to shame.

Isaiah 66: 1-2, 5

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *