Matthew 20:1-16, is a parable given by Jesus to His disciples when a very wealthy man walks away sorrowful, after he learns he must forsake his wealth to follow Jesus in order to inherit eternal life. The parable follows one of the most famous lines in the Bible, “…Verily I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
It is a perplexing parable like all the other parables Jesus taught His disciples while He walked among them. However, this one has even greater implications for modern Christians. Consider this; the parable speaks to those who accepted Jesus early in their lives, living the principles of Christianity, versus those who gained the wisdom of accepting the Gospel towards the end of their lives.
Those who accepted the Gospel at the beginning of their lives accepted it for very little, maybe this person is you; you were young, heard the Word, and simply believed. You did not need to witness the miracles of Jesus in your life, you simply believed and adhered to a straight and narrow path. It was all you asked, and for your belief and faith, payment will be the inheritance of eternal life. Those who came to God closer to the end of their lives, possibly someone you believe has lived an unrighteous life for instance, asked for more; more love, more miracles, more faith, and more time, as shown by the ragged, frayed edges of their life. God agreed; and their payment will be the same inheritance, eternal life. Yet, we have the same old debate, "Does the thief on the cross inherit eternal life equally as the man who repented or followed Christ early in his life?" Does God honor your lifelong repentance the same as the person who repented on his deathbed?
As Christians, we would like to believe God honors all repentances the same, no one is greater than another, no sin is lesser or greater than the other. In James 2:10 the Bible says, if you commit one sin you are guilty of all. Yet, in our scant human understanding, we place our own sins in some type of hierarchy, as if we believe God says, “Hmmm… his sin wasn't as bad as the murder in the first degree committed by…” And so, we live our lives trying to make up for the sins we committed throughout our lives as if we have to, forgetting that we are all saved by Grace. Upon our baptism we are dead to sin; Jesus stands in our stead with God. Does this mean we can continuously dishonor God by repeating and repenting as we go? Well,... yes; at our very lowest we can, but it is a ridiculously hard way to live. Living on the straight and narrow path is hard enough.
Ideally, we live to maintain a higher standard for our lives, because as Christians it shows our love, reverence, and respect for Jesus’ sacrifice of His life for ours. Why would anyone wait until the end of their life, or possibly their very last breath to make a commitment to God? What are the chances that you will make your commitment in time to repent for a lifetime spent away from God? L.
Study Reference: Matthew 20:1-16
From: “Different Deal, Same Pay.” In The Master’s Hands: 365 Daily Devotions for Everyday Living
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell