In this vision of the kingdom of heaven, our expectations about hierarchy within the kingdom are challenged. The day workers are hired at different times and then receive their pay in the reverse order of when they are hired – those hired last are given their wages first. The last are first. Those hired later in the day had not negotiated for a wage and must have been delighted to get the standard wage for an entire day’s work. These workers received generosity from the landowner – they received what they needed, regardless of the hours of labor. What necessary things have we, as church, received even though we have not earned it?
The surprise that causes discontent among those hired first is that they received only what they had been promised, nothing less, but nothing more. They were discontent because others, who had not worked as long as they had, received the same wage. Who do we, as church, consider to be late-comers to the kingdom and how do we treat them?
In Jesus’ description of the kingdom, everyone receives what they need for that day, but some consider this to be unfair. In what ways do we, as church, need to better practice this vision of community life that is characterized by acceptance of God’s generosity to others in order to better reflect the reality of the kingdom of heaven?