At the Foot of the Cross (Matthew 20:1-16) *Verses in NKJV*
– Read Matthew 20:1-16
1. Favor isn’t fair.
– A denarius was the normal wage for a full day of work.
– The Boss only made the deal for a denarius with the first laborers, and they agreed to those terms. All those hired later in the day were told that they would receive “whatever is right.”
– At the end of the day, they were all rewarded with the same amount. This was unfair! The owner made them all equal, for clearly unequal performances and contributions.
– The original workers complained, and rightly so, because they bore the biggest burden, and the hardest labor, during the heat of the day. The late comers didn’t earn it!
– Example: Boot Camp for one week, still presented with the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor at the end.
– Example: It’s moving day. A guy shows up late, carries one box, then is first in line for pizza.
– Example: You’ve worked a job for several years, started at the bottom, got the training and skills, now at the top pay scale. You find out a guy who got hired last week now gets paid the same as you.
– Life isn’t fair! When it happens to me, I usually bite my tongue, but my heart may still be bitter.
– My award is devalued because they got one too, but didn’t earn it, so I don’t respect it.
– It turned something that should represent hard work and success, into a participation award.
– This heart condition is prideful and sinful and wrong!
(Of course, I have been on the other side, receiving a reward I didn’t seem to have earn.)
– Who decides what is fair?! Not you!
– Those workers were promised a day’s wages, and received exactly what was promised.
– What business do they have caring what blessings someone else receives??
– Consider this: If God treated us fairly, we would all stand condemned for our sins, with no hope of salvation.
– Romans 5:6-11, For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
– God sent Jesus Christ to die for your salvation, while you were steeped in sin and God’s enemy!
-You have to change your paradigm. I remember a sermon Jonathan Wilder preached a couple years ago, addressing the question, “Why does a loving God send people to Hell?” The answer was that it’s the wrong question. We should be asking, “Why would God allow His enemies to be saved?”
– God doesn’t “send people to hell.” We already stand condemned by our sin. God provides a way to be rescued from Hell, through His son, Jesus Christ. The is something we don’t deserve.
– Avoid comparison: Stop pre-deciding who hasn’t done enough, or who has done too much (sin), to be qualified for salvation. “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible!”
– It’s not about the work, it’s about the invitation.
– The owner says, you received what I promised you, so who are you to question who I will bless?
– Those workers who started in the eleventh hour, I think we naturally assume they had the opportunity to start in the morning, maybe are lazy, or waiting for the hard stuff to be over. BUT…
– The bible says, when asked why they weren’t working yet, they responded that they hadn’t received an invitation. When they did, they went right to work.
– The “wage” here does not imply that the reward (or salvation) can be, or was, earned. The pay wasn’t for the work, otherwise they would have been paid differently.
– The reward was for accepting the invitation. Which they all did equally. They all worked “until the day was done”, in response to accepting the invitation. Some of us have more days than others.
– Make obedience, and a heart of gratitude, your response to the gift of salvation, without concern with what others are doing.
– “For many are called, but few are chosen.” The invitation is for everyone, but few will respond.
– Matthew 20:16, So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
– This is a “Christian paradox”, we see them throughout scripture. It shows spiritual vs worldly.
– Even the Rich Young Ruler, he was rich and powerful on earth (first), but will be last in Heaven.
– 1 Cor. 3:18-19, Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.
– 2 Cor. 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (In a spiritual context.)
– 2 Cor. 12:9-10, And the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– Jesus says many times “He who has ears, let him hear.” The point is that everyone has ears, but only a few are listening and responding. Many are called or invited into the kingdom, but none are able to come in on their own merit or strength.
2. Justification vs Sanctification.
– Justified is a “finished work”. Pastor Matt says it like this, “Just-as-if-I’d never sinned”.
– When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, God totally and completely forgave you.
– God credited Jesus’ righteousness to you because of the finished work he did on the cross.
– You are justified by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone.
– Romans 3:23-24, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
– William Plummer writes, “Justification is an act. It is not a work, or a series of acts. It is not progressive. The weakest believer and the strongest saint are alike equally justified. Justification admits no degrees. A man is either wholly justified or wholly condemned in the sight of God.”
– You will never be more justified than the moment you first believed in the gospel.
– Sanctified: This is ongoing and the process of becoming more like Jesus.
– Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God’s word, and fellowship with other believers as The Church, our minds are renewed, and grow in knowledge, and strengthen in the faith.
– Sanctification is NOT a gift, it is hard work. Pray, fast, read, serve, sacrifice, repent, fight…
– This process doesn’t end until you go to heaven. (It will be your life’s work).
– Romans 6:22,But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit unto sanctification and holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
– You will become more sanctified as you continue pursuing grace-motivated obedience.
– There are no “degrees of sin”, and no “degrees of forgiveness”.
– On a practical level, some sins are definitely worse than others, based on the damage they cause. Do not compare or minimize your sins. Do not create a false equivalency!
– Spiritually, sin is sin in the eyes of the Lord. Its price is death, and a debt we cannot pay. No matter what sins you have committed, you are equally in need of forgiveness.
– Unrepentant sin will equally keep you out of heaven. You either have repented, or have not.
– On a practical level, forgiveness can be hard sometimes! But we must do it. Pray for the strength!
– Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
– You either have forgiven, or you haven’t. You either are forgiven, or you are not. Forgive must forgive, because the Lord has forgiven you!
3. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
– Billy Graham said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Which means we all come to the Lord at the same level, no advantages, no privileges, we all sinned, and need salvation equally.
– Gal. 3:26-28, For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 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.
– Without Jesus, we stand before God equally condemned.
– With salvation in Christ, we stand equally justified and heirs to eternal life.
– Eph. 2:4-5 & 8-9, But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
– Favor isn’t fair, but thank God for his abundant grace and mercy towards us!
– Whether you have been saved for decades, or a day, be thankful for the forgiveness of your sins.
– Salvation begins at the foot of the cross! Give your life to him today.
– prayer –
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