Septuagesima (Mt 20:1–16)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen,KS || AUDIO


The Lord is true to His Word and Promises. He does what He says. He can’t not! He is merciful and gracious. From Him flow all manner of Gifts that deliver salvation and eternal life. He’s the true Source. Like with the Israelites, it wasn’t the rock itself, but Yahweh who “stood on the rock.” From Him flows the Gift. He gives. We receive. “Without any merit or worthiness” in us.

((3. The Lord works sola gratia.))

Just think about the ridiculousness of the Parable! It didn’t matter if they worked 12, 9, 6, 3, or even less than one hour! They all get paid the same. Who runs a business that way? No one! But all the same generosity from the Master. All are the same—first, middle, last.

Sola Gratia. Free gift! God’s grace alone. All from His favor, His graciousness, His “fatherly, divine goodness and mercy.” It all flows from His love for us in Jesus. Jesus’ works not ours. His death, not ours! His death means our life. His resurrection means our eternal life. All sola gratia, by grace alone. Free gift! That’s what sola gratia means: free, not earned!


How could it be earned? It’s not earned in the Parable. One hour’s work gets a full day’s pay. If that’s payment for one hour, those who worked 12 hours should get 12 times as much! That’s what’s fair. That’s what’s “right,” isn’t it? That’s what the workers thought, but that’s what we think, too.

((2. We work by works.))

The workers hang their hats on their own works. Their hearts were fixated on them and not the Master’s graciousness. Not sola gratia—they wanted their due. They “endured the burden of the day and the scorching heat,” after all. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?

We hang our hats on all sorts of things besides the Lord’s graciousness in Jesus. Heart, soul, mind, and strength are not focused on the Lord’s generosity, but on the works, ages, and limits we set up for ourselves and others. Man-made measuring and confirmation for what’s God pleasing and what people should get from the Lord and when. We fashion a Christianity that’s no longer about Christ for you sola gratia (free gift), but a Christianity about acting Christian-y.

What counts for you? Is it receiving from Jesus? Is that the thing? Is it His dying and rising, His blood for you delivered in Water, Word, Body and Blood? Those things that’re worth more than the universe itself, are those it or something else? What is it for you? What’s the thing? What sort of Christian sounding things will we compare with receiving the Gifts? Or is our doing, our working, our knowing, our preparing, our being right the thing?

We become the focus so quickly. Our being right burns up our patient love for our fellow workers, just like the those guys in the parable. They didn’t view their suffering as a blessing for their neighbor but as a way to get a bonus. Our learning long ago truths scorches our hearts to studying God’s Word, which is how the Lord pays out more, but since we learned what “right,” it’s fine. Our schedules and lives keep us from receiving the payment, puts us outside the vineyard all together.


To all who point to their hard work, their accomplishments, their doing in any way, the Master says: “Take what is yours and go.”

But the denarius remains the same. It endures for those He wants to dole it out to. He wants to give it to everyone. He goes out at 9, noon, 3, and five just to find more to give it to. All the same—first, middle, last. It’s not fair to man-made standards, but it is “right” and “just” according to the Lord’s standards, “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” All free gift—sola gratia.

((1. The Lord continues to work sola gratia.))

The Lord wants to pay out salvation, the precious blood of Christ. He sent His Son for sinners, to die for them, to make payment for them. He wants it delivered. He wants it for “the idle,” that is, the poor, the nothings, the sinners, and He doesn’t want them to go, but to stay. Not just one day, but forever.

From first to last, that’s what the Lord wants to do. He wants to deliver the denarius of His salvation, His Son’s blood to those who need it. All need it. Each of you needs it. I do, too. It’s all sola gratia. Free gift! “Without any merit or worthiness in me.” His Son does it for you. He brings it to you. All for you. All for free! His generosity. His denarius. For the first, the middle, the last.


Any sort of scale we set up, any sort of “but I”, “but we”, “but me” snubs the Giver, rejects the free Gift. But still He gives. Still He calls. Still He overflows. For the grumbling Israelites. For the lazy workers. For you and me sinners, too. Sola gratia. Free gift. His denarius, His salvation, His blood for you.


It’s all the same. First, middle, last the same. Yesterday, today, and forever the same. Alpha and Omega the same. For baptized into Jesus “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus;” “one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father;” “we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread,” His body and blood for you.

The Lord is true to His Word and Promises. Sola Gratia. Free gift! God’s grace alone. “Not by works. Lest anyone boast.” That’s because THE LORD DELIVERS HIS DENARIUS OF SALVATION TO YOU BY GRACE NOT BY WORKS.


1 thought on “Septuagesima (Mt 20:1–16)

  1. Whoa! Or is it woe? A lot of mirrors in that. Thank God for forgiveness!

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