Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a great time of year to remember all the things we can be thankful for.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
No matter what we’re going through, no matter whether our situation seems good or bad, God’s Word commands us to give thanks. There is always something to be thankful for and our thanksgiving should be directed toward God, who gives us every good gift. Giving thanks, not just on Thanksgiving, but throughout the year is God’s will. If we develop a thankful heart, we won’t have time to grumble or complain.
Today, we’re concluding our message series Profound Stories with a message entitled “Answer the Call.” The call that we’re going to be talking about is God’s call to people to become His children. When someone answers God’s call, they become a child of God. And being God’s child is something we can give thanks to God for no matter what is going on in our lives.
Matthew 11:28(ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Many people are weary and burdened down in life. Jesus calls people to come to Him, so that they will find rest, both in this life and eternity. But the call itself does not bring rest. Rest only comes to those who answer God’s call and come to Him.
Imagine you’re walking past a lake and see that a man has fallen into the water. It appears that he can’t swim and is struggling to stay afloat. You run over to a rescue station, grab a life preserver and through it towards the man. You pull on the rope, tugging the ring past the drowning man, but he refuses to grab it and sinks underneath the water. You offered to help, but the man did not respond to your invitation. In the same way, God calls everyone to come to Himself, but people must respond.
Revelation 3:20 (ESV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
In this verse, Jesus is saying that he is knocking at the door of people’s hearts, asking to come into their lives. But in order for Jesus to come in, what has to happen? You have to open the door. How do you open your heart’s door to Jesus? Jesus preached in …
Mark 1:15 (ESV) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
You answer Jesus’ call, by repenting of your sin and putting your faith in Jesus. Today, we’re going to look at two stories that Jesus told about His call to people and how we should respond, how we should Answer the Call.
Matthew 20:1-2 (ESV) “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
In this story, the master represents God. God calls people to work for Him in his vineyard, which represents the kingdom of God. There is a reward for the work that the people agree to do. A denarius in Jesus’ time was the standard pay for one day’s work. The grape harvest involved a short span of time before the rainy season came and the crop would be lost. So, there was an urgency about the work to be done. The workers who began to work early in the morning, probably about 6 am, would work a full 12 hours going through the heat of the day. Jesus continues His story …
Matthew 20:3-5 (ESV) And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.
The third hour would be 9 am and the master continued to hire new workers at noon and 3 pm. If people weren’t working in the master’s vineyard they were standing around idle, not doing anything productive. Work in the master’s vineyard produces eternal results. Work outside the master’s vineyard, outside the kingdom of God produces no eternal results. The master promises to pay each worker, no matter when they were hired a fitting wage. We are seeing that …
Matthew 20:6-7 (ESV) And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’
The eleventh hour would have been 5 pm, with only another hour left in the work day. Yet, the men were idle, doing nothing of value for the master, so he gave them an opportunity to work for Him. The time of day in this story represents a person’s stage of life. Some are called at a young age, some middle age and some in the older years. But there is always work to do, no matter what age you are called at.
To work in the master’s vineyard is to enter the kingdom of heaven, to be saved and work in God’s kingdom. We see from the story that people are valuable to God no matter what stage they are in life. We see that a person is never too young or too old to respond to God’s call. To be saved and enter the kingdom is not just a ticket to heaven, it’s a call to work for the master in this life. Each person is called with a unique purpose in this life, a person to do work for Jesus that will have an eternal impact.
Matthew 20:8-9 (ESV) And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.
The evening in this story represents judgment. We are able to work for the kingdom during the day, but when night comes, our work comes to an end. The master started by paying the workers who had only worked one hour first. He paid them a full day’s wages, one denarius. That was the wage that those who had been hired in the morning agreed to work for.
Matthew 20:10-12 (ESV) Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’
Those worked one hour, those who worked 3 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours and finally 12 hours, all received the same reward or wages, one denarius. Those who worked all day grumbled about their wages, expecting to be paid by the hour, not by the day, as they had agreed upon. Jesus is showing us that our reward from God isn’t dependent on the amount or length of work that we do. Those who are saved early in life, will receive the same reward as those who are saved on their death beds. What is this reward that the master gives equally to every worker?
Matthew 20:13-14 (ESV) But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.
The payment of the master represents the reward of eternal life, that God gives to each person in His kingdom. No matter at what stage in life you answer God’s call, you receive eternal life. Some have lived a life of sin but repent on their death bed. They receive the same eternal life as those who have served the Lord their entire lives.
In John 6:28, people asked Jesus what they must do to do the works of God. Jesus replied that the work of God is to believe in Jesus. That is the first and essential work that must be done to receive God’s gracious gift of eternal life. God rewards those who respond to His call.
Although believing is the first work, what work do we do for God throughout life? Working for God is as simple as simply obeying what the master tells us to do. God gives us instructions through His Word, through His Church and by His Spirit. Everything that we do in life should be done to seek His Kingdom first. Our work for God involves our relationships, our families, our workplaces, our church and every aspect of our lives. We work because God has called us by His grace and promised us eternal life. We work because we love Jesus Christ and want to please Him. We work because we love those around us who are standing idle with no hope of eternal life. And God rewards all those who respond to His call.
Jesus told another story about the importance of …
Luke 14:16-17 (ESV) But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
It was customary in Jesus’ day for there to be two calls to a banquet. The first invite went out some time before the banquet and the second call went out when the food was ready. This story initially applied to the Jews, who were God’s chosen people and had been invited by God. When Jesus came, He personally invited Israel, for the kingdom of God was near, but most did not respond to this second invitation.
In our time, God’s invitation has gone out across the world in a general sense. Many people know about Jesus and His death and resurrection. But when the second, more urgent invitation comes, what happens?
Luke 14:18-20 (ESV) But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
At the second invitation, it was now time to make a decision, whether a person was coming to the banquet or not. Again, the banquet represents the kingdom of God, in which we will eat with Jesus in eternity. Unfortunately, when it came time to make the decision to come to the banquet, may had excuses. The excuses had to do with the lure of possessions and relationships. In each of these cases, putting earthly temporal things ahead of the eternal values of God’s kingdom. Things of this earth were more important to people than God and eternity. Jesus makes it clear that …
Luke 14:21-22 (ESV) So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’
The banquet that the master had prepared was intended to bless people with the greatest blessing imaginable. Yet many chose to ignore the invitation. The master than made sure that the invitation went to the poorest people, those who probably couldn’t much work for the master. Yet He extended His invitation to everyone. Yet, there were still seats available at the banquet and the master knew that …
Luke 14:23-24 (ESV) And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
Those who were invited, but declined to come because of their many excuses, lost their chance forever to come. The master told His servant to compel people to come in so that God’s house, the banquet hall would be filled. To compel is to strongly urge, to encourage, to implore people to accept the invitation and answer the call. God desires for His banquet to be filled and we must work with God to compel people to accept God’s invitation.
Why do so many people give excuses to God’s invitation to have a relationship with Him? The excuses we heard in Jesus’ story are similar to the excuses that people have today. The excuses stem from people’s refusal to see the difference between the temporal things that appeal to them now and the things of eternal value, which are largely unseen. Excuses always have to do with choosing things they provide temporary pleasure over eternal values that give eternal rewards. God calls us as believers to compel people to accept God’s invitation to be saved by explaining to them the importance of eternity. And showing them how God is working powerfully even in today’s world. It is imperative that people accept God’s invitation.
In these two stories of Jesus, we learn that God is sending out His call for workers in His harvest field. Those who respond to God’s call, whether early or late, will be rewarded with eternal rewards. Many will give excuses for not answering God’s call, which they will regret for eternity. As those who have answered God’s call, we must seek God’s help to compel people to accept Jesus’ invitation. In the end, God’s house will be full, every seat in the banquet hall will be filled by people who have accepted the master’s invitation. Then Jesus will return and eternity will begin.