January 30

Matthew 20:1-16


The parable of the vinedresser is one of the most powerful stories on grace Jesus ever told. The vinedresser hired a crew at 6:00 AM in the morning for a denarius each, a standard wage for a full day’s work. Then, for the same wage, hired crews at 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and 5:00 PM. Then at 6:00 PM, he paid the last crew first, a denarius each. That crew had been there just one hour. The ones that had been working 11 hours more than that crew considered they would be paid much more, but they weren’t. The vinedresser had decided to pay each a denarius each, NOT BASED ON WHAT THEY EARNED, but based on HIS GENEROSITY. 


Maybe you’ve been saved a long time. Maybe you work hard at doing the right thing, saying the right thing, thinking the right thing, AND you think you are “BETTER” than someone else. You DESERVE more than they do. I’ve seen this kind of arrogant and self-sufficient pride in pastors, church leadership, and among laity. This pharisaical attitude takes a sickening sanctimonious stance. It’s lofty, pious, and self-righteousness. They would rather tell people how bad they are rather than how good Jesus is. They want to focus on sin, not the Savior. They want to focus on the rightness of the rules rather than the righteousness Jesus offers us by faith. This attitude angered Jesus. 


On the other hand, there are those who take grace to an extreme, teaching that what we do or don’t do has nothing to do with our relationship with God. Some even teach that disobedience doesn’t matter because Jesus removed the penalty of sin. This erroneous teaching on grace removes the faith factor; however, God is looking for our surrendered and obedient faith. Yes, we find our sufficiency in God, not ourselves; but our reliance and action are how we position ourselves in God to receive it. Grace and faith work together. 


Exodus 23-24


In chapter 23, we see more instruction from God through Moses. There are certain justices given, the law of the Sabbath is instituted, and three annual feasts are established at this point: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest (the Feast of Weeks), and the Feast of the Ingathering. Then in verses 20-33, the Lord speaks of following an Angel on their journey, which could have been Christ. 


This portion of Scripture is speaking of the victory the Israelites will have over their enemies. Then in verse 25, God promises to provide and heal the people. He then goes back into speaking victory over their enemies. Poverty and sickness are also enemies, and Jesus gives us the victory over them all. 


In chapter 24, Israel accepts the terms of the covenant, responding with a blood sacrifice. Afterwards, God calls Moses up the mountain, also the seventy elders, and other leadership. They saw God, as did the children of Israel. A covenant meal was taken. Then God calls Moses up higher, giving him the tablets of stone with the law written in them. 


In the New Testament, we now live under grace, not the Law; however, grace caused Jesus to fulfill the Law, not do away with it. The Law reveals right and wrong, holy and unholy. The Law helps us to know God for who He is. The principles, not the rituals, of the Law still pertain to us today, Jew and Gentile.  


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