September 13, 2011
What time did you show up?
I think I've written on this topic before, but I can't seem to search it in a way that blogger/google can find my old posts, so I'll write this as if it is a new idea. Caution! The story Jesus tells about the landowner and his day laborers is a trap! I'm guessing you fell into it. I know I did. The trap lies in this question - what time did you show up? In the scene that follows this parable, Jesus predicts his death for the third time. Immediately following that, the mother of James and John brings them to the feet of Jesus, kneels down and says, "Grant that one of these my sons will sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom." Or, to put it in the context of the parable, "Jesus, my two sons, James and John, have been in the field since before sun up. They were there yesterday, and they'll be back tomorrow. Promise me you'll pay them better than everyone else." The assumption made by Mama Zebedee is wrong in two ways. 1) How does she know what time her sons showed up? 2) She forgets that the last will be first and the first will be last. I've been in church since I was three. I went to Sunday school. I attended 3 different youth groups. I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior at 17. I answered the call to ordained ministry at 22. I plan on (and hope to) serve the Lord in full-time ministry for the rest of my days. I'd like to think that I'm the worker who showed up first thing in the morning. And if I am, I'd like to think I'll be happy with my full days wage, no matter what everybody else gets. I'd like to think these things, but I know myself better than that. I know that most days, I don't really show up until at least noon. I know that most days, I'm relying on me rather than God. I know that most days, I'll be grumbling when we all get paid the same. See the trap? We all like to put ourselves in the starring role in Jesus' parables, but more often than not, I'm showing up late, grumbling, weeds sown on rocky soil. But God loves me anyway. And for that, I'm eternally grateful.