This parable is told as a response to a question that Peter asked Jesus: “We have left everything to follow you. What then will we have?” Jesus recognized that the subtext of this question was this ancient human impulse to relate to God in terms of earning and merit. Like you and like me, Peter has begun counting the number of sacrifices he had made to follow God. He was waiting for an opportunity to see if Jesus was aware of them. Peter was hoping to secure his place in God’s kingdom.
And Jesus responds with this story of unmerited grace.
We all do this, don’t we? We do this in our human relationships and in our connection with God: we count and measure how much work we’ve done in order to determine for ourselves what we think would be a fair payout: A tip, a vacation, a bonus, a thank you, a raise, an answered prayer, salvation.
And this is absolutely, totally normal!
Think about it. From as early as we can remember, we have performed for acceptance.
The author John Lynch says that every one who follows God at some point comes to a place where the path forks: to the left the trail reads Pleasing God (with what we do) and to the right the trail reads Trusting God. (with who we are).
And we cannot stay on both paths.
One leads ultimately to freedom and the other to exhaustion. Join us this Sunday as we consider the grace of God in a system of meritocracy.