SEPTUAGESIMA – SUNDAY
LESSON: MATTHEW 20:1-16
Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. Matthew 20:10
The Gospel comes with a levelling action and makes all men equal in sin, so that those who perform many works count for no more than the open sinners and must also become sinners and hear themselves describe in Paul’s words, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). No one can be justified before God by what he himself does, by his works.
At this stage, men look around and begin to despise those who have done practically nothing. They ask themselves why all their pain and labor should count for no more than the laziness and loose living of others.
They also begin to complain to the householder because they do not think it is fair. They actually blaspheme against the Gospel and become quite hardened in their work-righteousness. They love the favor and grace of God and have to content themselves with their temporal reward. They must trudge off with their denarius into condemnation because they served merely for their hire—they were not concerned about any eternal blessing. So, they receive this hire and nothing more.
The others, however, must acknowledge that they have not merited either the denarius or the favor shown to them; they received more than they bargained for. These remain in faith and are saved, and, in addition, they also have enough here for their temporal needs. For all depends on the goodwill of the householder.
PRAYER: Preserve us, O Lord, from the hypocritical notion that we can become much better than others and thus reach a position where we may claim your blessings and mercies as merits. Keep us ever mindful of Christ’s death, not for the righteous, but for sinners. Amen