The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.[a] 1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius[b] a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 Going out about nine o’clock,[c] he saw some others standing idle in the marketplace. 4 He said to them, ‘You also go into my vineyard and I will give you what is just.’ 5 When he went out again around noon and at three in the afternoon,[d] he did the same. 6 Then, about five o’clock,[e] he went out and found others standing around, and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the workers and give them their pay, beginning with those who came last and ending with the first.’ 9 When those who had started to labor at five o’clock came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Therefore, those who had come first thought that they would receive more, but they were paid a denarius, the same as the others. 11 And when they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour, and yet you have rewarded them on the same level with us who have borne the greatest portion of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “The owner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Did you not agree with me to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and leave. I have chosen to pay the latecomers the same as I pay you. 15 Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 Thus, the last will be first and the first will be last.”
17 Jesus Predicts His Passion a Third Time.[f] As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves and said to them, 18 “Behold, we are now going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and on the third day he will be raised to life.”
20 The Son of Man Has Come To Serve.[g] Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons and made a request of him after kneeling before him. 21 “What do you wish?” he asked her. She said to him, “Promise that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup[h] I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.”
23 He then said to them, “You shall indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not in my power to grant. Those places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the other ten disciples heard this, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. 26 This must not be so with you. Instead, whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your servant. 28 In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[i]
29 Two Blind Men Receive Sight.[j] As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Jesus. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they learned that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, take pity on us.” 31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be silent, but they only shouted even more loudly, “Lord, Son of David, take pity on us.”
32 Jesus stopped and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, grant that our eyes may be opened.” 34 Jesus, moved with compassion, touched their eyes. Immediately, they received their sight and followed him.
- Matthew 20:1 The parable of the workers in the vineyard teaches that the promised kingdom is a gift of grace and not a wage. For salvation is not the fruit of a commercial contract but consists in a communion of love, a filial response on the part of humans to the initiative of God, who offers them his friendship. Christians who do good cannot boast of rights before God. They should merely do all they can to correspond with God’s call and render themselves ever less unworthy of his friendship.
- Matthew 20:2 Denarius: a Roman coin that was the normal daily wage at the time—what a Roman soldier also received.
- Matthew 20:3 Nine o’clock: literally, “the third hour.”
- Matthew 20:5 Noon . . . three in the afternoon: literally, “the sixth hour . . . the ninth hour.”
- Matthew 20:6 Five o’clock: literally, “the eleventh hour.”
- Matthew 20:17 At the moment when he starts out for Jerusalem, Jesus clearly confronts the drama of his sacrifice. This third prediction of the Passion is much more detailed than the first two.
- Matthew 20:20 The apostles were still dreaming of an earthly Messianic kingdom and seeking an important role in it. However, their recompense would be a gift from the heavenly Father, not a right of their own. Jesus’ mission in the world was to save human beings and not to assign them their prize.
- Matthew 20:22 Drink the cup: in the idiom of the Bible, this meant to meet suffering (see Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15; Ps 75:9).
- Matthew 20:28 As the suffering Servant (Isa 53), Jesus has come to expiate the sins of all, offering the Father his own life as the price of the ransom, i.e., as the supreme expression of love.
- Matthew 20:29 Until the very end Jesus is the one who hears the cry of the distressed, the one who gives human beings light and calls them to follow him.