On the surface, Jesus sells pretty well. Who wouldn’t want forgiveness, grace and eternal life?
I know I do.
But once you get into the weeds, it can be a little more challenging.
“Sell what you have and give to the poor,” Jesus tells the rich young man. Rich or not, that’s probably not going to happen.
“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or drink …” Jesus tells the crowd, many of whom were parents who couldn’t afford that detachment.
And then there is the problem of the parable of the workers in the vineyard.
You know, a vineyard owner goes out early to the marketplace and hires workers for an agreed-upon daily wage.
He goes back four times — even as late as 5 p.m. — to hire more workers. Each time, he promises to pay what is just.
At the end of the day, the owner instructs his manager to begin with those hired last and to pay each worker the full day’s wages, regardless of the hours worked.
That’s when the grapes hit the fan.
When those hired first received the same amount as those who came on the 5 o’clock bus, they cried foul.
I used to think they had a case, but listening to the parable again, I remembered choosing teams to play ball as a kid. The best athletes were always picked first, and the rest reluctantly taken in order of descending talents.
I confess that my only thought about those chosen last was not how they felt, but what liability they would be to the team.
Maybe hiring those workers in the market was similar.
The strongest and the most experienced were always the first chosen. And by the third call at noon, the owner was probably selecting from the B-team.
I try to imagine those still looking for work in the afternoon. They may have been too old, too young or too afflicted in some way to hire.
Regardless, they couldn’t give up. They didn’t go drinking or take a nap. They had families to feed.
They would be there as long as it took, putting in just as many hours waiting as the more fortunate did working.
Still, when the shorter shifts get as much as the early one, it doesn’t seem fair. But then, what is fair?
We are concerned that people (we) get what they (we) deserve.
Jesus seems to have a different understanding. His concern is that everyone gets enough.