Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus tells a story about some workers in a field

1 Jesus said, ‘I will tell you a story to show what the kingdom of heaven is like. There was an important man who had a field where he grew grapes. He went out early in the morning. He wanted to find some people who would work in his field. 2 The master agreed with the workers that he would pay them one silver coin for a day's work. Then he sent them to work in the field.

20:2A person usually received one small silver coin when he worked for one day.

3 The master went out again about three hours later. He saw some other men standing in the market place. They had no work to do. 4 So the master said to these men, “You also go and work in my field. I will pay you the right amount of money.” 5 So the workers went to the master's field and started to work.

The master went out again at noon, and he went again three hours after that. Both times he sent men to his field to work. 6 Two hours later, at five o'clock, he went out again. He found more men who were standing there. And they had no work to do. The master asked them, “Why are you standing here all day and you are not working?”

7 The men said to the master, “Nobody has asked us to work for him.”

So the master said to them, “You also go now and work in my field.”

8 Then the evening came. The master of the field spoke to the man who had authority over the workers. He said to him, “Tell the workers to come here. Pay them their money. Begin with the workers who started to work at the end of the day. Finish with the workers who started first.”

9 The workers who had come to work at five o'clock in the evening received one silver coin each. 10 The workers who had come to work first thought that they would receive more than the other workers. But each of them also received one silver coin. 11 When they received their money, they were not happy. They told the master that he had not been fair to them. 12 They said to him, “Some of these other workers came last and only worked for one hour. But you have paid them the same money as you paid us. And we have worked all day in the hot sun.”

13 Then the master said to one of the workers, “My friend, I am being fair to you. You agreed to work for one day and to receive one silver coin. 14 Take your money and go home. I choose to give this last man the same amount of money as I gave to you. 15 It is my money. I can choose what to do with it. I want to be kind to people and give them more than we agreed. Does that make you upset?” ’

16 Jesus then said, ‘So, one day, those people who are not important now will become the most important. Those people who are very important now will become the least important.’