Jesus introduced many of His parables by saying “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” Then he would tell a story. In the parable of the vineyard workers he explains how admittance into the Kingdom of Heaven is according to His Grace and Mercy not according to merit. The owner of the vineyard hires workers early in the morning at an acceptable wage. The same day he hires other workers midmorning, early afternoon, and then late afternoon. When the day is over he pays them all the same wage. When those who worked all day saw it, they became indignant and dissatisfied because others received the same wage as they did yet only worked a few hours. It wasn’t fair! It didn’t satisfy their sense of justice. Because they saw themselves as deserving, they wanted justice. They felt that what they did qualified them for a greater reward. This is so true, and completely accurate in the world in which we live. But Jesus was talking about another world. His reply was, “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” (Matthew 20:15-16).

Tom Allen tells a cute story about taking his two young daughters into the store to find something to drink. One picked apple juice and the other a Mango surprise. Despite his insistence on paying for all the drinks, his daughters had brought resources from their piggy banks and they were prepared to be generous. As they were walking up to the counter one said, “I want to pay for mine.” Tom simply said, “That’s OK Abby, Daddy will get it.” But she insisted, “I’m paying for mine.” The clerk said that will be $2.06. Abby put all her change, about 80 cents, on the counter. “Umm, that’s not enough,” the clerk said. Tom felt a little tug on his sweater, “I think I’d like to use your money,” The other daughter said.

In many respects we often would rather get what we deserve when we think we are deserving. Resting our confidence in our own resources and efforts builds our egos. It allows us to feel more deserving than others or at least of having earned our own way in the world. Although these feelings and desires are admirable in this life, they will not serve us as we enter into the Kingdom life. The truth is we all owe a debt that we do not have the resources to pay. Since we cannot pay the price for his liberation from sin’s penalty and power, God in the person of His Son paid it for man. Jesus paid the ransom for all. It becomes effective for each person who through faith in God’s Son receives salvation as a gift of God’s grace.