The way I want to approach this parable is by putting it into our context; our day and time. In order to do this, imagine you didn’t know Jesus was telling this parable. Forget, if you can, this is part of the Bible and the Son of God himself is relating this story.
Now imagine you’re driving down the road, listening to your favorite whine and gripe talk station, when this guy calls up; one of the workers who feels he’s been slighted and cheated because he worked all day and got the same money as the people who showed up at the end of the day. It’s one of the workers, hired first, telling the story. Not Jesus. You’re hearing the exact same things Jesus said but you don’t know anything at all about Matthew 20:1-16. You hear this cold, from the first worker’s perspective. How would you feel? Would you find yourself automatically agreeing with the aggrieved worker? I think most people would. Today, the first worker would probably add something to the story. Those who came late and were paid the same were probably immigrants. This would have infuriated the first worker even more. Stereotypes would be fed, anger fueled, “see we’re going to hell in a hand basket” would be said, Congress and the President would be blamed, and the vicious cycle of “it’s not fair” would begin all over again.
Then you remember, this is not some call on a radio talk show. This is Jesus talking. You’d realize your anger is misplaced. Why is Jesus taking the side of the late comers? Why is he on the side of paying everyone the same? Is Jesus some anti-American socialist?
Jesus is not an American. He believes in treating people equally. Define that how you will.
The kingdom of God is not about fairness. It’s about equality before God. If it were about fairness, none of us would have a shot at any kind of future.
Judge your reaction. How out of step would your reactions be to Jesus’ priorities?
How big is the gap you need to fill?