There’s a fascinating scene that appears at the end of Matthew 19, in which Peter, speaking on behalf of the rest of the apostles, makes the same self-righteous claim that the “rich young ruler” made to Jesus’s face only a few moments prior. It’s this erroneous assertion by Christ’s disciples that leads him to tell, perhaps, the most intriguing and unsettling parable of the kingdom in all of Scripture.
Whether it’s seeing unsaved people prosper and succeed at everything they do, or fellow-Christians get all the opportunities, accolades, and limelight, sometimes it just seems as if you’re always dealt the short straw. Why would God let his chosen people suffer and struggle and endure such travesties while those who are in love with debauchery and depravity thrive and find abundant success? This isn’t fair! But once those words have gone heavenward we stand on dangerous ground.
There are some stories in the Bible that are so perplexing that it makes you wonder why they were ever uttered by our Lord in the first place. I think there’s no better example of this than the parable of “The Workers in the Vineyard” from Matthew 20. The tale at first feels incredibly unbiblical and opposite of Jesus’s penchant for justice. But, another glance at this story reveals it to be another grandiose expose of grace.
When it comes down to it, there’s no such thing as a “balanced” version of grace. The moment you try to temper grace you render it impotent — trying to cage grace is to make it powerless and ineffectual. The reality of God’s grace for us is that it’s not only unconditional, it’s illimitable and uncontrollable.