The New Testament.



Did Jesus get it wrong?


I sometimes wonder about this as Iíve always had trouble with one of the parables regarding the Kingdom of Heaven.

The one Iím thinking of is the one in which the rich man goes down to the employment corner at the crack of dawn and hires men to work in his vineyard. He goes down again at about 11 in the morning and hires another lot of workers. Then at about two in the afternoon he goes down Ďagainí and hires yet more workers.

But come paytime, say about seven in the evening, he lines up the workers and gives them all exactly the same pay. This to me is just so, so unfair that I canít really see it as being representative of the Kingdom of Heaven.

But if everyone is to get the same reward, regardless of the life they lived, might it not be worth it for a person to live the life they want to live and gamble on the fact that they will get a minute or two before they die to repent their sins? If they get those minutes theyíll go to Heaven and get exactly the same reward as all those who spent their lives being good, self-sacrificing Christians and doing good works.

If youíre a gambler, why not? What have you got to lose?

However, there is another side to the story. At paytime when everybody gets paid exactly the same amount of money, those who started in the afternoon will still have plenty of energy left and so they are all more than likely to head off to the local pubs and spend their money on having a good time. As the saying goes, easy come - easy go.

Those who started in the mid morning will still have some energy left and so they too will go out and spend some of their wages on having a good time.

But those who started at the crack of dawn will be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day and so will want nothing more than a quick bite to eat and bed.

The result of this is that the following morning, those who started work in the afternoon will be totally broke. This who started in the mid morning will have some money left while those who started at the crack of dawn will have all their money left. (Essential expenses excluded.)

At the end of the week those who made a point at starting at the crack of dawn will be richer than those who started mid morning and much richer than those who made a habit of starting in the afternoon.

By the end of the harvest, the early starters will have a lot more money than anyone else. Money they know, if they read their Bible, they should invest rather than bury in the ground and so, over time, itís the early starters who will end up rich while the later starters end up either okay or totally broke.

So, with this view in mind, maybe in the long-term, the early starters do get a greatest reward.

What, if youíre a Christian, do you think?

*****

There are many ways of interpreting this parable. But when I think about it, there is actually a sense of the sadistic here.

Look at it this way.

The vineyard owner goes down to the market place at the crack of dawn, hires workers and also agrees their rate of pay for the day.

At midday he goes to the market place again and hires more workers but, as I remember my Bible, there is no agreement as to the rate of pay. Then in the afternoon he goes to the market place again and employs yet more workers.

But at paytime he begins by paying the early starters their agreed pay. He then moves on to the midday starters and, in full view of the early starters, pays them exactly the same amount. Then, again in full view of all, he moves on to the late starters and pays them the same as everybody else.

This is surely sadistic!

We all have an inbuilt sense of fair play and being human, the early starters would not have been pleased to see the late starters get the same as they did. They would, naturally, be very upset. But the vineyard owner is a rich man and can do what he likes with his own money. So if he wants to pay the late starters the same as the early starters, well, itís his money and he can do what he wants with it. If the early starters, with their inbuilt sense of fairness, get upset, well stick them. Heís rich and the law allows him to do what he likes with his money.

But isnít that a form of cruelty?

In consequence, is that what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about?

Should we all become cruel and sadistic? Those of us who are rich anyway?

---November 9, 2013---

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