Opening Questions and Prayer
When have you been treated unfairly?
When have you been treated unfairly in a good way? (Getting a reward you didn’t deserve, etc.)
Pray for the Lord’s wisdom as you study the Bible together.
Read Matthew 20:1-2
1 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.
Who is Jesus telling this parable to and why?
See Matthew 19:23-30 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”
28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.
Why did Peter think he should get special privileges?
Why is Jesus telling this parable to the disciples?
Who and what do the following characters from the parable represent in our life?
Read Matthew 20:3-5
3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.
Why does the landowner keep looking for workers?
How do you feel when you are doing a task and others show up to help?
Are you one to welcome help, or shun it because you’d rather do it yourself?
Read Matthew 20:6-7
6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’
7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’
Why weren’t these workers doing anything?
What are some ways you can serve God and bring others along with you?
Who helped bring you along in life when you were doing nothing?
Read Matthew 20:8-10
8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. 10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage.
How do you think those that worked only a little and got paid a full day's wage felt?
What would they have thought about the landowner?
Why did those who had been hired on for the full day think they were going to get more?
What might they have thought about the landowner?
When are some moments you think you are going to get more than what you deserve?
How do you feel when you don’t get the extra thing you thought you were going to get?
Read Matthew 20:11-12
11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’
Were the workers who worked all day treated unfairly?
Why did they think they should have received more?
Why did they bring up the scorching heat?
What are some ways people who have been in the church a long time feel like they deserve special privileges?
What are some ways you feel entitled to special privileges?
Read Matthew 20:13-15
13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’
How did the landowner answer them?
Why were those that worked all day jealous of those who worked only one hour?
Why does God’s generosity with His forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love sometimes seem unfair?
How does comparing ourselves to others make the unfairness seem bad to us?
How does comparing ourselves to our own sin make the unfairness seem good?
Read Matthew 20:16
16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
What does this statement mean?
What is Jesus wanting His disciples to understand about God’s Kingdom?
When you think about this parable, which worker do you see yourself as?
What are some ways you can live in humility and put yourself last and Jesus first?
What does the Lord want you to do this week based on what you have studied?
Matthew 20:16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
Closing thoughts and prayer
When it comes to ourselves we want special privileges, rewards, and bonuses. When it comes to others who we see didn’t work as hard as us, or endure as much as us, we want them to receive less. When it comes to God’s Kingdom, if our priority is off, we see God’s generosity as unfair in a negative way. We think certain people don’t deserve God’s goodness. But when we humble ourselves, and realize we don’t even deserve to be in the vineyard in the first place, we can receive God’s forgiveness and offer it freely to others as well.
Spend some time praying and confessing those times in your life where you felt God was unfair to others. Ask for forgiveness. Pray that the Lord would help you serve your best wherever He places you, and that you would serve Him with joy.