Many are called to do God’s work. It might be something seemingly insignificant that may be behind the scenes or a small task or it might be something that will impact many others. Whatever work you do, do it as unto the Lord (because you are!) and do it wholeheartedly. If you are called to lead, be the shepherd God has called you to be and follow what the Holy Spirit tells you. Listen to godly advice. And leave pride out of it. And do not compare yourself to others. Again, let God be your guide. Let us remember that God is in control, not us. The leaders of Israel did not see it that way. When God sent someone to give a message, they would not listen. Pride got in their way. They wanted the power and prestige and didn’t want anyone to take that from them. Jesus told a couple parables that deals with the heart of those who are called to do God’s work.
Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out.
“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”
And when they heard it they said, “Certainly not!”
Then He looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE’ ? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
The religious leaders of the day knew that Jesus was speaking of them. God sent prophets to Israel to tell them to get right with God, but they were ignored, beaten, and/or killed. Israel rejected God and were disobedient. Many of the leaders were corrupt. There was no fruit.
Then God the Father sent His only Son. He was a threat to the religious leaders’ power and prestige. Jesus was teaching things that were contrary to religious tradition. They continually were seeking ways to quiet Him or destroy Him. As leaders, they should have been leading the people to Him. I believe that this is similar to today. Many religious leaders are more interested in their fame and fortune than they are at leading people to the truth.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED BY YOU BUILDERS, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Leaders of the church need to stand strong and have boldness and never deviate from the truth. Too many want to fit in to society instead of following what they were called to do. There is no other way to salvation but by faith in Jesus Christ.
In the second parable, Jesus teaches that all are equal in God’s kingdom. He does not show favoritism. The Jews would grumble when salvation is provided to gentiles as well. Even though Israel is God’s chosen people, He opened the door for salvation to everyone.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’
“So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
There are a couple things to note in this story, I think. The context of this parable was right after Jesus was talking with the rich man who valued his riches and was sad when Jesus told him to leave it behind to follow Him. The point was not that everyone has to sell all that they have to give to the poor. The point was to not hang on to your possessions too tightly. Jesus must always come first. We must think about what is important eternally. We must be willing to give up anything and everything for Christ.
Also, Jesus teaches in this parable that all who come to Him will be equal in the kingdom of God, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, young or old. None of us are worthy to be there, but Jesus paid for our sins and died for us, so that all who believe may enter into heaven. This gift is for everyone. No one can gain more favor than another, whether we spend a lifetime serving God or, like the thief on the cross, a person who comes to repentance at the end of one’s life will be saved and enter into paradise (see Luke 23:39-43).
The other aspect was that the Jews figured they were God’s people and were the only ones that had the right to heaven. But Jesus explains that salvation is for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. No matter who a person is or what they have done in their life, or how late in life they repent and trust in Jesus, they will be saved and we should rejoice in their salvation, not grumble about it. We should never compare ourselves to others. Either we will feel inadequate or have pride or grumble. God’s desire is that we are all saved and that we are all filled with joy.