Laborers in the vineyard, New Testament parable

After the 11th hour

After the 11th hour

In Matthew 20, Christ shared the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. A householder hired laborers early in the morning, let’s say 6:00 AM, having “agreed with the laborers for a penny a day” (verse 1).

He returned again and hired more laborers at 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and even 5:00 PM, with an agreement to pay them “whatsoever is right” (verse 4).

At the end of the day, even though the laborer’s work hours ranged from 1 to 12, the householder payed “every man a penny” (verse 10).

Laborers in the vineyard, New Testament parable
How do you earn a penny?

There are lessons to be learned from how the laborers responded, but I want to focus on the householder in this post, representing Christ.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland pointed out that this parable is not really about laborers and wages, rather…

This is a story about God’s goodness, His patience and forgiveness, and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a story about generosity and compassion. It is a story about grace. It underscores the thought I heard many years ago that surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.

No matter when we turn to and follow Christ, he will reward us with the metaphorical “penny” or “all that my Father hath” (D&C 84:38).

Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful

Why did they all get the same?

When the householder went at the 11th hour (or 5:00 PM) to hire laborers, he “…found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive” (verses 6 – 7).

It seems like they had been willing to work all day, but weren’t given an opportunity. I think this is why Christ could reward them equally — they had been willing to work.

What about after the 11th hour?

I’d like to add a couple verses to this parable (I know my words aren’t scripture… just opinion). Something like…

And after he had paid every man a penny, he found others who had not labored, but spent the day in idle or riotous living, and he taught the virtue of labor. When they had understood, and he saw that many would have worked had they known, he paid them also every man a penny.

I believe our Heavenly Parents bless us with everything they can because as Elder Holland further pointed out…

…however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.

It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines

The plan of salvation

This is one of the truths that was restored through modern day prophets that…

All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God. (D&C 137:7)

How fortunate that earth isn’t the only opportunity for people to hear of and accept Christ’s gospel! Also in the Spirit World, after this life and before judgement, is “the gospel preached to the dead” (D&C 138:30), so that everyone has a chance to accept it.

Brigham Young stated perhaps even more clearly that…

So far as mortality is concerned, millions of the inhabitants of the earth live according to the best light they have—according to the best knowledge they possess… All, who live according to the best principles in their possession, or that they can understand, will receive peace, glory, comfort, joy and a crown that will be far beyond what they are anticipating. They will not be lost (Discourses of Brigham Young, 384).

My recent HWN has been in reflecting on Christ’s mercy in judgement.

p.s. I’m not usually an adrenaline junky, but I think that’s what motivated me and Paul to walk on a frozen pond several days ago ;)

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