Amazing grace Sermon
20:1 “The kingdom of heaven is like…” This phrase is used only in Matthews Gospel and it is used about 30 times. It is a description of how God’s Kingdom functions. It is about how God treats his people.
Why did Jesus tell this parable?
• This parable grew out of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man.
• He is young and capable. In fact, he kept the commandments (19:20).
• Based on what he has accomplished, he ought to be given eternal life.
• Jesus told him to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him (19:16-22). He could not do it and he left.
• Peter, reflecting on all this, said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or motherc or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Jesus assures him there will be great blessings for him and His disciples.
• In fact, God will bless them 100 times, more than what they deserved.
• Not because of your merit but because of God’s grace and love for you.
Jesus saw the error - man wanted to rely on their own effort to get God’s blessing.
• But in God’s Kingdom, God bless us out of His grace love.
The dictionary defines grace as the unmerited favor of God toward men. This does not do justice to the richness of the biblical use of the term, which appears scores of times. Grace is the favor God is able to show to men because Christ died for them; “by grace are ye saved,” Eph. 2:8. Because of His holy character, God could not save men simply because of His mercy and love. The claims of divine righteousness had to be satisfied before He could save sinful men, therefore Christ died in the place of the ungodly, Rom. 5:6.
Grace is distinguished from the law, John 1:17; from works, Rom. 11:6; and from debt, Rom. 4:4. Salvation cannot be earned by law keeping or by good deeds of any kind. Men are chosen by grace, Rom. 11:5; justified by grace, Rom. 3:24; continue in grace, Acts 13:43; approach God in prayer at the throne of grace, Heb. 4:16. They grow in grace as they grow in the knowledge of Christ, 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18. Men do not fall from grace by sinning, but by putting the law in the place of grace, Gal. 5:4.
A remarkable summary of the teaching of grace is found in Tit. 2:11–14. It includes the denial of wrong things, and the positive instruction that we must live soberly, righteously, and godly as we look for the blessed hope of the Lord’s return.
 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us.
Divine righteousness had to be satisfied before He could save sinful men, therefore Christ died in the place of the ungodly, Rom. 5:6.
• And so he went on to tell a parable.
A landowner went out to hire workers for his vineyard.
• He agreed to pay them a denarius, which was one day’s wage.
• In the culture of that day, workers lived a day-to-day existence.
• They needed money each day to buy food for their families.
• That’s why in Deut 24:15, landowners were instructed to pay a hired man “his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it.”.
The landowner went out at the third hour (9.00am, Jewish day starts at 6.00am), and saw many still jobless, standing in the marketplace.
• So he hired them and said, “I will pay you whatever is right.” (v.4)
He went out again at 12.00pm, 3.00pm and even at 5.00pm and saw people standing there without a job.
• Not because they are lazy, but verse 7 says “no one has hired us.” So this landowner asked them to go and work in his vineyard.
By 5.00pm the work on most plantations would have been winding down.
• These workers have already lost all hope of being hired. Who would want to hire you at 5.00pm?
• Yet on this particular day it was different. They met a very generous landowner. Frankly, how much can they do in that one hour?
• It was quite clear that the landowner wasn’t thinking about his work in the vineyard. He was thinking about the unemployed. He has compassion on them. He was concerned for their welfare.
They needed him more than he needs them. He hired them, not because he really needed workers, but because these workers needed his help.
The Lord wants us to understand that our heavenly Father is just like that. God loves us and cares for us. We may not be able to do much for Him but that’s not the most important. God has chosen to love us, even while we are still sinners.
At the end of the day, at 6.00pm the landowner calls them and pays them.
• Each worker, regardless of how long he had worked, received a day’s wages.
• He received not what he deserved (if you go by hourly basis), but what he needed to sustain his family for a day.
• It is not really what they earn, it is a gift. It is grace.
That’s how our God treats us. If it is based on work, we fall short.
• Rom 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by
his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
• Eph 2:8-9 “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9not by works, so that no one can boast.”
We are saved by grace. We are now living under God’s grace.
• Sometimes, we fall back into the wrong thinking. We think about our good works. That God owes it to us, to bless us, because we have done many works and sacrifices. That our good performances warrant God’s blessings.
• If we think that way, we have fallen back into living by works, not by grace.
The rich man asked, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (v.16) Peter asked, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (v.27) What should I get in return to all this that I have done?
Remember the story of the prodigal son?... Luke 15:11ff.
The prodigal son realized his mistake and returned home. He said to the father (Luke 15:21), “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
The elder son wasn’t happy. Luke 15:29 “But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I have been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” The Father said, "`My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." (Luke 15:31)
He is living in blessedness but not realizing it. Just like living in grace, but not knowing it.
We are experiencing God’s grace daily, far more than we realize.
• Our God is aware of our needs. God calls us to serve Him, not because He needs us but because we need Him. He wants us to trust Him.
The landowner tells the worker: “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” (20:4)
• They went, trusting him. They work on that basis. This is not easy. It is faith in the landowner’s integrity and goodness.
And they got more than what they could have asked or think.
• They worked for one hour but received a day’s wage. They did not receive what they deserve but what they do not deserve.
• No wonder the earlier group complained. But that is grace. Given on the basis of their need, not what they have done.
This is what we received from God. God gives us more than what we deserve.
• Through Jesus Christ, we have eternal life and an eternal home.
• It cost us nothing, but it cost the Giver everything. What we need to do is to receive God’s gift it by faith.
How do you think the workers felt? GRATEFUL.
• It’s just like the prodigal son. He is grateful the father loves and accepts him.
• Do you think he wants to work for his father? Yes. I really felt he wants to help the father now, not as a hired servant but a grateful son.
• We serve the Lord today because we are grateful for what He has done. We experienced His love and goodness.
John Newton was a slave ship captain, capturing and selling slaves. After his conversion, he began holding public worship services for his crew. Eventually, he felt convicted of the inhuman aspects of his work and became a strong crusader against slavery. He began preaching the gospel. John Newton was very touched by God’s mercy and grace upon his life, and that was his dominant theme in his preaching and writing.
Shortly before his
death at age 82, one of his church leader suggested that he consider retiring because of his failing health and memory. Newton replied, “What, shall I stop while I can still speak?”
In one of his sermons, he said with a loud voice, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour!”
John Newton wrote a song, Amazing Grace.
A pastor once said in one of his sermons;
When we get to heaven, there will be no contest to see who was the most deserving of God’s grace because no one deserves it. All are sinners saved by God’s grace.
There will only be one contest in heaven. When we recall how unworthy we were and Jesus standing there - the only contest will be to see who will sing the loudest, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
There are three basic and very easy things that we need to do.
(1) RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE. Believe that God is there to help us.
(2) GIVE THANKS Sunday School story
(3) SHARE GRACE. Be gracious to others. Help those who are in need.
I will end with 2 illustrations.
Momma and the toast
A Sunday School teacher asked her class if they knew the difference between kindness and loving kindness. One little girl said she knew the difference. She told the teacher that kindness is like when you ask your mother for some toast and she gives it to you, but loving kindness is when you ask your mother for some toast and she gives it to you with butter and jelly on it. And that’s the way God is. God, in his loving kindness, is an exceedingly generous giver. He doesn’t just give you some blessings, but He gives some blessings with some butter and jelly on it. That’s why the bible says that “He daily overloads us with benefits” David says “He anointeth my head with oil, my cup runneth over.” God says “Bring your whole tithe to the store house and I will open the windows of heaven and pour you out blessings you won’t have room to receive.”
The believer who seeks to live the Christian life through self-effort is like the man who, in attempting to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, found his boat becalmed for days. Finally, frustrated by his lack of progress, he tried to make his stalled boat move by pushing against the mast. Through strenuous efforts, he succeeded in making the boat rock and so created a few small waves on the otherwise smooth sea. Seeing the waves and feeling the rocking of the boat, he assumed that he was making progress and so continued his efforts. Of course, although he exerted himself a great deal, he actually got nowhere.
So it is in the Christian life. The source of the Christian’s strength lies in God’s grace, not in exertions of will-power, or in efforts of discipline, or any other self-effort.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.
c Some manuscripts mother or wife
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Mt 19:25-30). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Evans, W., & Coder, S. M. (1998, c1974). The great doctrines of the Bible. Includes index. (Enl. ed.) (295). Chicago: Moody Press.