Jesus’ stories often feature an inverting of the expectations of the world. When he does this, it shows us that the reign of God was, is and will be an upside-down-reality.
In a tight job market, ideal candidates may be handpicked - those with the best grade point average or the most personable smile, those who carry themselves as though they came from money, those with perfect teeth. The others don’t even get called for an interview, as if implicitly sending the message, “Don’t bother; we’re not hiring your kind.”
Who got picked early in the morning in Jesus’ vineyard story? A savvy winegrower would probably have told his foreman to choose the younger men first: the tall, sturdy, and the strong - that is who want to work in our fields. Who waited all day and got picked last? Maybe the old. Maybe the one armed or the crippled. Property owners who sought for success might suggest to these workers, “Don’t bother; we don’t need your kind.”
This parable reminds me of a story someone told me about gym class. We used to pick trams. The person telling me the story was the super-athletic kind, it was a buzz to be selected first. Maybe these guys who had worked all day into the vineyard carried the same swagger: I’m good, I’m tough, I was picked first to work. And who are these losers? And why are you paying them the same wage as me?”
Jesus flips our expectations of success upside down in this parable. When the Lord regards his team, he values more than outer appearance. He prizes the heart. He is open-handed with the late=bloomers. Certainly God’s ways are not our ways. Imagine God saying , “You and you and you are wanted. You and you and you are chosen.” Can you hear it? Who me? You want me? God says, “Yes and yes and yes! Good salary. Great benefits. I do want your kind. COME!”
SO THE QUESTION: WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN PICKED FIRST OR LAST FOR SOMETHING HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? WHAT DID THAT FEEL LIKE? HOW DID THAT IMPACT YOUR WORLD VIEW OF THINGS?