BEYOND THE PENNY
Jesus was the Word encompassed in the human flesh and its psychological experience (John 1:1-4). Although Jesus did not have a proclivity to sin he was tempted in the wisdom of this world which is the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, but did not capitulate to its vices. By ones man’s sin, sin is introduced into the world and by one man’s righteous we are made righteous (Romans 5:12-19).
The disciples’ experience with Jesus was an intimate example of the teacher-to-student style. He was born during the time of his nation the Jew’s under the direct government of the Roman Empire. While Roman and Greek philosophy were the tenets of the culture, the Judaism was the cultural lifestyle for the Jew. Jesus is presented while political tension was brewing and religious conflicts were proffering within the society. He is heralded by John the Baptist who plows through the wilderness of religious thought, breaking the silence of the five decades of absent from prophetic utterance and the human proclivity to sin. His message is repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2). The foci of the delivery is repent purposed to change the thought pattern of the Jewish culture. To facilitate the kingdom concept, one must eradicate their old way of thinking to make the path for God’s Kingdom perception. Jesus did not come to ameliorate the Jewish societies’ way of life; he was the fulfillment of it. Jesus confirmed John’s message “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) The kingdom was not a geographical reality it was a presentation of a kingdom reign.
To assist the disciples in understanding the kingdom perspective he taught in parables. Parables are consistency with the thought of comparing. The kingdom was likened unto, or like as or comparable to. In Matthew 20:1-16 Jesus is giving a scenario regarding a landowner who needed laborers to harvest his crop. The hours of employment were from 6:00 am until 6:00 pm. He hired a group of croppers at 6:00 am and promised them a penny as the day wage. A penny was just enough to feed the family for the day. The landowner went to the marketplace and hired another group of workers at 9:00 am and stated he would pay them what was right. He proceeds to do the same throughout the day at 12:00noon, and 3:00 pm. Again, he saw some workers unemployed at 5:00 pm and offered them a job and promised to pay them what was right.
And the end of the day he advised his foreman to pay the workers starting with the 5:00 pm employees. Each worker was given a penny. The 6:00 am workers were furious with the landowner because they had worked 12 hours for a penny and the 5:00 pm and others had not worked as long as they did. They thought the landowner cruel and unfair.
How is this parable like the Kingdom of God? We first must move away from our perception of fair and change it to the concept of God’s rule of right. “Th
e kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking, but righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The landowner promised the early workers a penny everyone else he promises what was right. The righteousness of God is the right-doing of God.
The landowner’s response to those who berated him was in the form of a question. Wasn’t the vineyard his property? Did he not keep his promise? Why would you presume to get more when that was not the agreement? When our thinking is not in alignment to kingdom thinking, we will align ourselves with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. The kingdom perspective is to think “Beyond the Penny.”
The wisdom of the world denotes giving as a deficit, but the kingdom concept of giving renders giving as asset. The world’s system of thought is do unto other’s what they do unto you, but kingdom concept is love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
The parable is about God’s grace to all. The workers were not taking into consideration what they had learned or how they may have appropriated new skills, bonded in new relationships and networks, the possibility for be re-hire for the next day or even the kindness of the landowner to hire them. They had not celebrated that all of them had enough to feed their families for the day. They did not look beyond the penny.
How often do we value what we do and who we are in terms of nickels and dimes? Each day is a blessing as it brings new challenges, opportunities, benefits and empowerment. Seeing through the lens of the kingdom conveys a new outlook on life not associated with the hustle and bustle of the world’s view. We are not in competition with one another, we don’t seek riches beyond our capacity to handle, and we’re not presumptuous concerning the Lord’s business. When we look beyond the penny, we experience the wealth of the salvific walk and embrace the graces of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ freely given to us daily.