Cornelius — House Money, Part 2

Saint Cornelius
Laura Bang!
CC BY-NC-SA | Flickr

Part of being good managers or stewards of the things that God has entrusted to us means using them in ways that align with God’s values. Jesus taught a parable that showed how generosity is at the center of God’s personality. Pastor Luke looks at Matthew 20:1–16 in “Cornelius,” part 2 of his 3-part series “House Money.”

Questions to Consider

OPEN. 1. Briefly describe your ideal job: would you work indoors or out? —with your hands or a computer? —with higher pay or more time off?

2. Do airline tickets cost more or less on the day of travel? Why? Does bread cost more or less on the day it expires? Why?

UNPACK. Read Matthew 20: 1–16

3. What is your immediate reaction to this parable? Imagine this story was in the news, but you only caught two sound bites: the workers grumbling (v. 11) and the two questions asked by the owner (v. 15). How would you answer the owner’s first question? The second?

4. What are some reasons a vineyard owner might keep returning to the market for additional workers? In Bible times, the workday was from 6 a.m. (“early”) until 6 p.m. Why would workers still be there so late in the day? What do they say (v. 7)? What could they have said about their reasons for staying there?

5. The Old Testament Law required an owner to pay his workers at day’s end. Read Leviticus 19: 13. What purpose did this Law serve?

6. Read Romans 10: 14–15. Some interpreters say the 5 p.m. workers represent Gentiles (non-Jews like Cornelius in Acts 10). In light of the Romans passage, do you agree or disagree? Why?

APPLY. 7. Suppose the interpreters are correct (q. 7, above) and Gentiles are the 5 p.m. workers. What then does the parable say about your relationship with God? Does it change your perspective? (When you answered q. 3, did you consider being a 5 p.m. worker? Why or why not?)

8. What is the key point of this parable? (a) the early bird works all day for a worm, (b) God makes his own rules, (c) God is generous, (d) everyone should be equal, (e) nobody is guaranteed a job, (f) the Man rips you off.

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