Matthew 20:1 – For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
Matthew 20:2 – And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
Matthew 20:3 – And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
Matthew 20:4 – And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
Matthew 20:5 – Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
Matthew 20:6 – And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
Matthew 20:7 – They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
Matthew 20:8 – So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
Matthew 20:9 – And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
Hello readers, thanks for reading today! The message of the eleventh hour. What does the “eleventh hour” mean? And what is the message of the eleventh hour? Well, maybe you’ve heard the phrase “eleventh hour” used before. It’s a phrase taken from the Bible from a parable that Jesus told his disciples, and it’s used in today’s language to refer to “the latest possible time before it is too late”, “just in time” or “almost too late”. When I was at university I remember getting some assignments done at the “eleventh hour”, meaning I left it very late to both do it, or finish it and submit it.
Today we need to learn from the message of the eleventh hour. You may be in the eleventh hour of your little day of life. Your day here on earth is far spent, and you’ve spent it in idleness, you’re not ready, you’re unprepared, you’ve done nothing with all that God gave you and enabled you to do. It’s horrible to misspend and waste time isn’t it. It’s horrible to look back in your life and it’s just a void. We should’ve been labouring in the Lord’s vineyard, but now it’s the eleventh hour. You’re in your day of grace, your day of light, and now the day is far spent… you have one more hour. In that there is still hope, what are you going to do in that final hour?
None of us can escape time. Time reigns over us all. None of us can prevent time from just keeping on marching on. Tick tock, tick tock. Time is relentless. And it seems time has just gone on forever past and will go on forever future. It’s why people scoff at God’s word, because time seem to just keep going by and things just keep going on and it looks like there’s nothing to the warnings of God. But there is an endpoint to time. In the future, there will be time no more… did you know that? God started time, and God will finish time.
What will your life look like when time is up? How much time do you have left, are you in your final hour of a misspent and wasted day of life? The message of the eleventh hour is that time is short, and for some of us, far shorter than we may think. Those guys are in the marketplace, they’re standing around idle, and it’s one hour to go. How can we be so inactive and apathetic and idle as believers when time is so short?
We all die don’t we? Noone can argue that. When we’re young, it seems like we’ve got forever, but we don’t. Everyone before us has died. Old father time got everyone didn’t he. Billions of people that have gone on before you, they were children, then young adults, they were invincible and indestructible once. They became adults, and they may have got married, had kids, had a good job, had all sorts of interests and done great things… whatever… but they died. They got old, or they got sick, but they all died. One day, their time ran out. The worst thing in the world is for a believer to waste his or her life, and to be idle when there was work to be done, and instead nothing was done. Imagine leaving undone what you should’ve when you could’ve done it.
This parable Jesus spoke deals with the eleventh hour… and there came a time in the day when there was a final opportunity, a final call to go and work in the householder’s vineyard. How many calls have you had in your life from God’s word? How many times have you heard the gospel? How many times has the Holy Spirit of God pressed on your heart to trust him and obey him in getting saved and serving God?
Have you ever answered the call? Have you ever taken the opportunity that God gave you? This householder went out to find people to work in his vineyard. God is still seeking lost sinners and willing servants today. And not just salvation, but also to serve him and do his business. See, there is a point to being saved. It’s not just getting out of hell, it’s far more than that. Salvation is a new creature born of God. That person is delivered from sin, that person wants to obey and honour God. That person wants to glorify the Son. We were created for such a higher purpose than we settle for. Think of people today that live simply to gratify the base desires of their flesh… we were born for a higher purpose but we literally reduce ourselves to animalistic thinking and behaviour.
The householder went out looking for people willing to work in his vineyard. He’s asking… you interested? You interested? But Christians today aren’t interested in working or in his vineyard. They don’t realize it pays to serve God. When they should be in his vineyard, they’re standing around in the marketplace of sin and entertaining it’s delights. This is a generation that wants to be entertained and amused, they aren’t interested in laboring. They’re lazy, and they’re idle. The reason why our society is like it is, is because the Christians are idle.
The message of the eleventh hour is a call to take the opportunity God has given you to get saved and serve him. There is a day when you will get your last call. None of us have infinite time. There is an urgency to salvation and service. We are all in different hours of our life. How many chances have you had to believe and trust God and obey him with your life? The householder asked… Why stand ye here all the day idle? Maybe you’re an idle Christian, you’re just idle, you’re doing nothing in life, nothing’s getting done, and soon it’ll be too late to get anything done. Don’t count on being able to do tomorrow what you should be doing today.
Context is important as always. Jesus had been talking with his disciples because they’d forsaken some stuff to follow him. Remember, they’d had jobs, and they’d left them to follow Jesus Christ. That’s a bit of a cost. And they’ve just seen Jesus speak to a young rich ruler, who loved his possessions too much to follow Jesus Christ. Sometimes we should be thankful for not having all that we desire, as that could be what we become so attached to we put it above following Christ. Nothing should have our heart in place of God.
And then Peter basically asks… what do we get for forsaking all and following you? What’s in it for us? What’s in it for me? Will it be worth it? It’s a pretty good question, because it makes you think of why you follow Jesus Christ. Many people follow Jesus Christ for the wrong reasons, and that’s why they’re disappointed, that’s why they get offended in him… and that’s why they fall away. They were in it for the wrong reasons.
It is significant that they all get the same wage in this parable even though some worked all day and some worked for an hour. No, we can’t earn salvation, so let’s be clear on that. The primary application of this story is for Christians, for those who are saved. So this isn’t a salvation issue, but a discipleship issue. After all this is in the context of Jesus talking to his disciples who had forsaken their jobs and friends and family to follow him.
The significance is that salvation is getting the same person, the Lord Jesus Christ. See, we talked about “not just getting out of hell”. Salvation is being right with God, and knowing God… and he is the real prize of the Christian life. He is the reward. Every person has that same access to God, and in today’s day of grace, we have access and grace that previous generations did not. And it’s a pretty good offer isn’t it. To get the same wage even though we’ve done nothing all day while others have been laboring since the early morning.
A lot of people struggle to find true meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life. It’s because they’re not right with God. True happiness and peace lies in being right with God. But being right with God, and God himself is not whom many care for or seek. He’s not what we are in it for. See, most of us really just don’t love God, that’s that root problem… we’re in it for what he can give us and what we can get out of him rather than us getting to know him. In fact we don’t really care to know him do we, that’s why we struggle with prayer and reading his word and obeying him.
God has given you your day in life. You reading, this is your day. But as the hymn goes “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day”. Your life is a little day. In a day, you have light because of the light of the world, the sun. And in your day of life, the Sun of righteousness has given you light. Jesus said he is the light of the world, and he shines on you today. You’ve been given light, but what did you do with the light? You are without excuse today. That householder even went seeking laborers. You didn’t even seek God, he found you first. You’ve heard the gospel, you know the truth, and maybe you’ve now reached the eleventh hour of your day. Yet you’re STILL idle. And you’ve got one hour to go.
As already said, this parable has many different applications, it has an application to salvation but more primarily to service. It’s a call for believers to get out of the marketplace of sin, to stop wasting precious time in their life… time they don’t have. We should be about the Father’s business, and redeem the time God gave us while we still have time. Your time here is a gift from God. And it counts for eternity. Every day you wake up you have another chance to trust God and obey him and make your life count. And there is a point to following Jesus Christ, what we do does matter. They got paid for their work in this parable, and it will pay to have trusted and followed Jesus Christ.
This parable is also so wonderful because it offers hope to people who have been saved and only got to work at the eleventh hour. One of the greatest hindrances to getting right and getting going in serving God is that mountain of wasted time behind us which makes us feel like we can never make a meaningful start or do anything that counts. It’s not about making up, because we can never make it up to God or feel like we earned it. Those labourers got a pretty good deal, a full day’s wage for one hour of work. As we are going to see, God doesn’t think or work like man does. So don’t let wasted time make you waste the time you have left because you can never make it up, or can never overcome what you’ve wasted. There’s one hour to go, that means time still isn’t up yet.
We would naturally have thought those working all day should get more. When I read this parable, I am always reminded of the story in David’s life in 1 Samuel 30 where David gave equal spoils from his victory over the Amalekites to those who couldn’t fight (because they were faint) and to those who did fight. See, we would be like what the Bible calls “wicked men and men of Belial” in that story who didn’t want those men who couldn’t fight to get anything. It’s amazing in and of itself that there were such men who fought with David. You can be in the service of God and think you’re doing so much and you deserve it all, you want all the spoils to yourself and you think you’ve earnt it… but that doesn’t mean you’re saved or right with God.
These men were too faint to help David win the battle. And they come back from the battle and the wicked men who went with David said, you blokes don’t deserve anything. That’s pretty low isn’t it. And we see again here why God called David a man after his own heart. David made sure they all got the spoil. He didn’t treat them bad, no, he saluted them and made them feel really good about themselves and part of the victory. He even sent spoil to his friends in Judah and that victory was cause for him reconnecting with his people. That’s true care for your men, and care for others, and love and grace and mercy. David wasn’t thinking and operating like us selfish, proud, fleshly sinners do.
So often Christianity can turn into competition over wages type stuff. It turns into a competition between who’s doing more, who’s doing better, who knows more, who’s higher than the other, who deserves more. That’s all flesh. And that’s not the way in God’s kingdom. People that think like that aren’t spiritually minded. The greatest in God’s kingdom becomes the least. If Jesus served, if Jesus washed his disciples feet… are we greater than our Lord? What is even more incredible is straight after this parable a mother of two of the disciples comes to Jesus wanting her sons exalted above the rest. They didn’t really get it did they.
2 Peter 1 speaks about things to add to our faith. Adding things like virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and lastly, charity. When we should be growing as believers with these things, which is growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, we behave like squabbling children still. Babies cry for what they want and are only interested in their demands being met. But as you grow up, you should develop an ability like the mother of that child to sacrifice what self wants for what the baby needs. Charity is maturity as a believer, and read 1 Corinthians 13 to see how high that ground is. It takes the Holy Spirit of God.
The message of the eleventh hour is that we’re running out of time. The Bible wouldn’t say to redeem the time if what we do with our time doesn’t matter. We have a choice in how to spend our lives, and what to spend it on. They weren’t doing anything profitable or productive for the Lord in this parable. Maybe you’re a spectator in your Christian walk.
If you’re not in God’s vineyard, you’re doing nothing. There is no better work than the work of God. If you have been saved, are you idle? Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines idle as “not employed, unoccupied with business, inactive, doing nothing, unfruitful, useless”. Does this word describe you? If Jesus said “I must be about my Father’s business”… shouldn’t we? It’s a shame for us to be at the eleventh hour… and yet idle.
The invitation was to come and labor in my vineyard. His vineyard is a good vineyard to be in. It’s a pity Christians aren’t in his vineyard. They left the Bible, they left faith, and they’re in the marketplace instead. How many Christians are for sale. It’s ridiculous. They sell out on truth, they sell out on Jesus Christ… and they have no salt, no light and they’re good for nothing.
Labouring in Jesus Christ’s vineyard is the best work in the world. Telling others the gospel, seeing others get saved, glorifying Christ with our lives… what an opportunity it is. And opportunity to make your life count. Yeah there’s some blood, sweat and tears in it. But it does pay. What do they do in vineyards? They prune, dead wood is cut out, weeds to be dealt with, watering to be done… and fruit to be gleaned. Any dead, useless wood and weeds in your life?
We have such a great heritage from the Lord. This vineyard reminds me of Naboth. Naboth had been given a vineyard from his dad, and he was going to give that vineyard to his sons. That’s the way they were supposed to do it in Israel. They passed on the heritage, the legacy, the fruit, the work. We’ve been given a great heritage from the Lord. We have his word, that’s our vineyard. We have the words, the legacy, the testament and the authority and commission from Christ. But instead we’re on the market, we’re fielding the delights of the smorgasboard of sin and we’ve sold out, and we’re useless, and the Father’s business is the last thing on our minds. You can’t be doing the Father’s business if you’re not in his vineyard. You gotta be in his word, in his will, in his way… to do his work. It’s his vineyard remember, not yours. It’s God’s word and it’s God’s rules, and everything belongs to him.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 – “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”. As already stated, the eleventh hour is the final hour in the Biblical day. Today may be the last call to you, only God knows. But whatever the case with you, be it unbeliever or Christian, today is a call to do something with the opportunity God has given you to be saved and serve him while you have time to do so. Answer his call to you in his word. That’s the message of the eleventh hour. Answer the call, you have an opportunity from God to do something with your life that counts. Make your day of life count in the service of God. His business is the only business that ultimately matters in this life.
And it’s only what God thinks of you that counts. What matters is you obeying God in what he called you to do. See, if you measure the labourers against each other, some did far more than others. Maybe these eleventh hour labourers felt not as worthy as the ones that had been there all day. The labourers that had been working all day felt like they’d been done wrong in getting the same wage as those that had worked all day. Christians get like that today, and they’ve missed the point.
Christianity isn’t about being the greatest, or most exalted, or doing the most, or deserving more or how you size up to other Christians performance. No. Just worry about what God called you to do, and obeying him in your own personal life. Early in the morning or at the eleventh hour… obey God in what he called you to do, how you could, when you could, where you could. Do what you can while you can. Be right with him, that’s the reward, and be happy and content in that. If you’ve been there since early in the morning, be happy you didn’t spend your day in idleness. Be thankful, don’t be evil because God’s shown grace and mercy to someone else. He’ll sort out what everyone gets, and he’ll do right in it.
It’s a wonderful parable because God is so different to us, he’s not down on our level. He’s the one full of grace, goodness, and mercy. That’s the God that’s calling you at the eleventh hour. It was a pretty good offer wasn’t it. We might’ve thought… only one hour left… what can they get done, what can they really achieve in one hour… why bother even asking them if they’re interested. They can’t do much. But success is obeying God’s word, it’s not about how you size up to others. Will you answer the call today? Will you heed the message of the eleventh hour? What will you do with the gospel, with the opportunity given to where you are at in life today? It’s a good offer you’ve got from God today, answer the call while there is still time.
Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)