Posts Tagged ‘Rewards’

Denarii © Created by Ross Cochrane with Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:1-16 – WHEN GOD IS UNFAIR – Jesus and the Fair Workers Tribunal – Part 2

Matthew 20:1 says, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for His vineyard...”

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, we understand you are the Landowner of the Kingdom of Heaven Vineyards.

Jesus – Yes. The Landowner, creator and employer. 

Tribunal Chairperson – Your name for the record?

Jesus  Joshua Davidson, known as Jesus to most.

Tribunal Chairperson – And why do you call Your vineyard the Kingdom of heaven?

Jesus  It is called a Kingdom because it is the sphere where I exercise absolute authority as owner and employer. It is called Heaven because it is a place of fruitfulnesslife and perfection. Once workers come to My Vineyard they live on the property and under My authority. They find their ultimate calling and destiny. 

Tribunal Chairperson – We understand that this morning you hired some workers?

Jesus  Yes, I searched for them, found them and invited them to serve Me in My Vineyard. Without being hired, these day laborers would not have the resources they need to liveThey would be destitute and starve. I am their provider.

Tribunal Chairperson – We are here because a question has been asked by Peter, James and John, who are also Your employees, about fairness. You must realize that Employees have to be paid at least their minimum pay rates and entitlements. What exactly is the enterprise agreement or other registered agreement that Your workers are under?

Jesus – I have made a covenant agreement with all those who serve at the Vineyard. It is called Grace. I bypass normal agreements by giving a gift to every one of the same value. I simply say to My workers, “If you serve Me, you will not receive what is fair, but what I decide to give to you which will be right.”  

Tribunal Chairperson – I thought as much. Your employees have been underpaid, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. We, therefore, are calling upon You to pay your workers what is fair. We understand that sometimes underpayments happen accidentally because of computer or human errorthe wrong number of hours paidpenalty rates not appliedother entitlements not paid, such as leave or allowancesbut You have deliberately underpaid Your workers. At the end of the day, we are here to audit only one pay period over a 12 hour day. We understand you employed others workers at different times of the day.

Jesus  Yes, I am continually looking for those who want to serve Me in the Vineyard. Many people are just waiting for the opportunity and are grateful that I have found them.

Tribunal Chairperson – You chose those who were just standing around?

Jesus  Yes. But it‘s not that these workers want to do nothing. They aren’t lazy. They are waiting for the opportunity to work and searching for MeThose who serve Me have realized that their lives were going nowhere and now they have meaning. They serve Me because they are willing to find their destiny in life. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 says  you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. … says the Lord.

Tribunal Chairperson  That’s all well and good, but You kept on hiring people all through the day. We are here to ensure You pay Your workers what they deserve and apparently, this did not happen.

Jesus  My workers deserve nothing from my hand, yet I have given them all the same gift, which represents life and what they can never earn, work for or deserve. Am I to understand that You don’t wish Me to pay those who serve me at all? 

Tribunal Chairperson  Of course not. We are here to ensure that those You do hire are paid what they deserve.

Jesus – You do not realize what you are asking. To pay them what they deserve would only lead to their destruction?

Tribunal Chairperson  Are you saying that your employees don’t deserve to be paid at all?

Jesus  That’s correct. I don’t need to employ them. I have found them in the marketplace of the world and invited them to come to Me and serve Me. They came willingly, knowing that whatever I gave them would be more than they deserve. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I believe some workers came to work for you at 5 in the afternoon and yet you still hired them with just one hour left in the day?

Jesus  Yes. I am always looking for those who will come under my authority. If you had come I would have asked you also “Why haven’t you been working today? Now is the appointed time. There is no need to waste your life waiting for someone else. I am the only One who has come to give people purpose and lifeAnd it is never too late in this life to give your life to Me.

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, let me understand this. You called the last workers first in order to be paidThey had only worked for an hour. How much did you pay them?

Jesus  Yes. The last shall be first. I gave each one a denarius.

Tribunal Chairperson – I see. A full days wage. Very generous. And how much did you pay your employees who worked for the full day?

Jesus – I gave each of them a denarius also.

Tribunal Chairperson – And there’s the problem. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. Some people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid those who worked all day in the scorching heat. Surely You see that there is discrepancy. You have been unfair with Your wages, especially to those who worked for a whole day.

Jesus  No. I agreed with those I hired first, based on my covenant of grace to give them a denarius. This was not based on the number of hours they worked but upon what I desired to give them. They agreed to serve me for a denarius. Those who came later served me for what I considered to be right.

Tribunal Chairperson – It is our contention that You need to backpay your employees who worked for 12 hours by paying them 12 denarii each. And then penalty ratesovertimeallowances, and any other entitlements. That would be fair.

Jesus  You do not know what you are asking. The denarius symbolizes eternal life. I cannot give more than eternal life. To give them what is fair would lead to their destruction. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I contend that You are being unfair.

Jesus  Yes, I am. I am offering My grace to those who trust in Me and that is entirely unfair. It is undeserved. I am here to ask You to come and serve Me also and then you will see personally that my gift of eternal life is unfair.

Today your life will be required of you and you must decide to accept what is fair from My hand which will mean you will be eternally lost or accept my denarius, that which represents that which is totally unfair and undeserved and speaks of absolute grace and eternal life

The wages of sin is death but the free gift I offer to you is eternal life. I will not require any back payments since you have been judged already by your sin, and your words, deeds and thoughts.  

Tribunal Chairperson – Are you mad? We are here to judge you! Do you think you can sit here and judge us? 

Jesus  No, your hearts have done that already. The hour is near. I came to do the work of God among you and give instruction and guide You in life and faith. You are the last of those who I have been searching for all day. I am here to give your life meaning, purpose and destiny. Will you serve Me in My Vineyard rather than try to judge Me for the grace of unfairness. Believe Me, you do not want Me to be fair. Fairness will lead you to hell. Follow Me and have the gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Ross

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Risks and Rewards © Image by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:28-29 – WHAT WILL I GET FOR FOLLOWING JESUS? Part 1 

He was a young man, with his life full of potential, blessed with riches, living a good life and gifted with leadership. Yet he went away from Jesus still young, rich, good living and a leader, but sorrowful, … and without eternal life. Jesus says it is impossible for the rich young man to get into heaven without God’s help.  

This gets Peter wondering. The first question that comes to Peter’s mind is “What about us?” So Peter says to Jesus, “We’ve given up everything to follow You. What will we get?” (Matthew 19:27 NLT). 

Jesus answers, “… 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 (Matthew 19:28-29 NLT). 

  1. THERE WILL BE A HUNDRED-FOLD REWARD ON EARTH FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW CHRIST 

This reward is not specified but obviously superior to any normal reward. From the story of the rich young ruler, it’s obvious that the reward for knowing Christ is not necessarily based on being rich or being influential as a leader in the community or on being young and full of potential or even on living a life based on good values. Relationship with Christ brings reward beyond these outward things of life.  

The rewards or blessings are provided by God for those who follow Christ so that we can live the life for which we were created. We are spiritual millionaires! Why live as spiritual paupers? God’s bank account is limitless, and He has given those who choose to follow Christ direct access. 

What are some of these inward rewards that God gives to those who choose to follow Christ? Here are just a few… 

  1. Peace with God. The barrier I had between God and me is entirely removed and I can experience a relationship with Him. He accepts me and I have real peace on the inside. (John 14:27) 
  2. Sins are forgiven because the penalty for my sins has been paid when Christ died on the Cross and I trusted in His sacrifice for me (Romans 4:25; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 2:24). 
  3. Access to God through prayer (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19–20). 
  4. Becoming part of the family of God, born again (John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23), a child of God (Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26, John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 3:2), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10). 
  5. The resources of God to live my life (2 Peter 1:3). 

2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) says, By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” 

In Philippians 4:19 (NLT) Paul says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” 

6. A secure foundation on which my life is being built (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:4; Ephesians 2:20). 

7. God‘s love for me (Ephesians 2:4; 5:2). 

8. God‘s instruction in the Bible which teaches me how to live and make a difference in life (Titus 2:12) 

2 Timothy 3:16,17 (NLT) says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 

9. Partnering with God, serving and cooperating with Him in His work, and being His ambassador (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 6:4). 

10. The Holy Spirit to guide me. I am born of, baptized with, sealed by, and indwelled by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5–8; Acts 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; John 7:39; Romans 5:5; 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30). 

11. Not to mention the Fruit of the Holy Spirit which God gives to me in order to navigate the world in which He has placed me.  

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) says, “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” 

It’s interesting that Mark adds that with all these benefits there will also be persecution of anyone who follows Christ. He mixes reward and persecution in the same sentence. Those who follow Christ are willing to pay the price. Someone said that the word “Faith” is spelled “R.I.S.K.”  

Every person has the opportunity to weigh up the risks and rewards of faith, just like the rich young ruler, but the invitation of God is always for us to give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him.  

There is a cost in following Christ, but the inward rewards and resources He provides while we are on this earth more than compensate, because they enable us to live the life for which we were created  

Pastor Ross 

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What on earth…? © Image by Ross Cochrane using Blender and GetPaint.net

Matthew 19:27-29 – WHAT ON EARTH IS JESUS TALKING ABOUT? Part 1

It’s interesting that one of the questions that come to our minds when we give our lives to Christ is WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?). What compensation will I receive for my sacrifice of everything? Like you can invest in sacrifice. Like following Jesus isn’t fulfillment enough.

In Matthew 19:27 the rich young ruler has just walked away with sorrow in his heart, unwilling to forsake his riches to follow Christ. Jesus tells His disciples how impossible it can be for a rich person to receive eternal life and come under the authority of God.

Peter must have thought, Well, if it is impossible for this young man, with his life ahead of him, blessed with riches, living a good life, and gifted leader to receive eternal life then what about us?” So Peter says to Jesus, “We’ve given up everything to follow You. What will we get?” (Matthew 19:27 NLT). Apparently, even for Peter, following Christ is not return enough?

One thing is always sure about Peter. He doesn’t worry too much about appropriateness. Caution and tact aren’t obvious character traits in Peter.

Is Peter being mercenary or just wanting assurance about whether he and his fellow disciples will have eternal life? Is that why Jesus holds back from rebuking Peter directly for having selfish motives?

YOU CAN INVEST IN SACRIFICE

In fact, Jesus says you can invest in sacrifice.

“Yes,” Jesus replies, “and 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. 

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 (Matthew 19:28-29 NLT).

Wow! That was unexpected! But what kind of reward is this? Strange kind of reply. 12 disciples, 12 thrones, 12 tribes. How are the Apostles judges over the 12 tribes of Israel? Are the tribes going to be re-established? Is this a metaphorical picture or is Jesus being sarcastic or exaggerating to get a point across and if He is, what is He trying to say? Is this a future prophecy?

WHAT ON EARTH IS JESUS TALKING ABOUT?

What about the hundred times in return? In what way? The apostles would experience persecution and execution. How is this a hundred times as much return for the sacrifice they have made? Sure, eternal life afterward is more return than anyone could hope for, but what is Jesus getting at?

Some commentaries suggest that all this judging of the 12 tribes on 12 thrones happened with the early Church with the Apostles judging Israel by the inclusion of the Gentiles and ushering in the understanding of the New Covenant. Others suggest this is somehow linked to the writing of the New Testament. How they arrive at this, I don’t know. It seems to me if Jesus meant all that, He would have said it.

BUT WHAT DID HE MEAN?

I’m left with more questions than answers with this reply of Jesus. Perhaps you are too. So in the next few blogs I am on a quest to discover what on earth Jesus is talking about? I invite you to come with me. 

Pastor Ross