The Bible records many of Jesus’ sayings, but we have become so familiar with them, that we overlook how controversial many of them were:
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16) so concludes Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard (20:1-16). This would offend his hearers’ understanding of God’s fairness.
They would easily identify with those who were called first to work in God’s vineyard and expect that they would be rewarded the most. Jesus sought to teach them that God doesn’t mete out his grace based on the amount of time and effort people exert. Grace is a gift that cannot be earned no matter how much effort we put in. God is over generous with his grace, we all receive abundantly more than we deserve.