Bread from heaven, birds falling from the sky – God provides, even when people complain against their leaders, and against God. God still provides.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who decides to pay all of the workers the same daily wage – whether they worked all day, or just an hour – even when the workers complain against the landowner. God provides.
This next part I learned from Bill Cliff at Huron College – and that is this: in those days, the days when Jesus was walking around and preaching, and teaching and healing – the usual daily wage was enough. It was enough for a worker to take home the wage and feed his family and “pay the bills.” It was not poverty, it was better than that, but it was not riches – it was enough. Not a lot left over for saving, not a lot left over for much of anything else, but it was enough to live and provide a living for one’s family. It was usual to work a day’s work to receive the usual daily wage, but everyone knew what the wage was, and what was expected.
So here is Jesus telling this story – about people who get picked up to work later and later and later until the day is almost over. The ones hired last got paid first – and they were paid the usual daily wage – which they were probably not expecting. So then the guys at the back of the line start thinking – JACKPOT! YESSSSSSS! Only to find out that they too receive the usual daily wage – which is what they agreed to in the first place. What ensues is disappointment, frustration, envy …. Its not fair – he only worked one hour, and we (read I) slaved away all day, and he gets the same as I do? That is not fair. There is the landowner’s response, chastising that attitude – but it goes beyond the surface level of what we take “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
The daily wage, in terms of the kingdom of God, is not money – it is God’s love, and what Jesus tries to teach over and over again is – you can’t earn it. It doesn’t matter if you work all day and all night, or if you work for just one hour – it doesn’t matter if you have been receiving the love of God your whole life, or if you have received it for just one minute, if you are receiving God’s love, you are receiving God’s love. God’s love is infinite. I am no math wiz, but I do not that if you apply the rules of division to infinity, you still end up with infinity, no matter what way you try to crunch the numbers. So whether you have a ‘small’ part or a ‘large’ part of infinity, it is still infinite, and really the small and large in that case don’t make sense – they are infinite. What this means in relation to God’s love and the usual daily wage is, that it is enough. God’s love is enough. It is not less than you need, but it is enough. If God decides to give to those who come last the same as to those who have known God’s love for their entire lives, then that is something to be joyful for, something to sing songs about, to tell stories about. “O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”
In some ways we could look at it as probably more than you need and in that sense there is this element of it being meant for passing on. Amen.