The labourers in the vineyard
1: For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2: And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3: And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4: And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5: Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6: And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7: They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8: So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9: And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10: But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11: And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12: Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13: But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14: Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16: So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Here we have a Parable of the Kingdom. Christ is describing something about the Messianic kingdom to come. Christ is illustrating the statement that he made at the end of the previous chapter that the first shall be last; and the last shall be first. He reiterates the phrase at both the beginning and the end. Christ is showing that people enter into the vineyard (the kingdom) at different times, that they all receive exactly the same reward for their service and that those who come in first will be the last to be rewarded and those who come in last will be rewarded first. Christ in the Kingdom will give reward according to service. This is most unlike the Church where believers are blessed on the basis of faith and Grace - not merit and effort.