Like so many of Jesus’ Parables, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard borrowed the folksy agrarian imagery of rural life. This sort of story was made of the stuff of of everyday life, and would have instantly drawn in Jesus’ hearers because it met them where they were at culturally. They would be well accustomed to hearing stories about workers, sheep, sowing seed and the like. Most of the story of the workers was expected, except the twist at the end. Yet Jesus used these symbols of his day in unexpected ways.
Parables are an indirect form of teaching, the ancient Greek words combined at the roots of the word parable present a concept to “throw alongside.” The idea of a parable then in a sense is to cast a vision or present a model. As Jesus made use of these cultural touchstones and storytelling in his ministry, he often used parables as a way of painting or modeling the Kingdom. It was a way of describing what it was like for his hearers in a way that would draw them into this upside down picture of how God called his people to live.
Lectio Divina Instructions
Lectio Divina (or divine reading) is a spiritual reading of scripture. We come to the scripture not
for study only, but approach the text in a sense with openness to receive from God. The traditional lectio framework has four distinct stages outlined in the instructions below.
Reading God’s word (Lectio)
Read Mt 20:1-16 slowly twice (this is the larger reading from a physical bible). If you are doing this in a group have the listeners close their eyes to help them focus on hearing. As you read listen for a word or phrase that seems “illuminated” for you. Sit in silence a couple minutes.
Reflecting on God’s word (Meditatio)
Read the passage again. During the silence reflect on how the passage speaks to your life today.
Responding to God (Oratio)
Read Mt 20:1-16 again. During the few minutes of silence consider how God is calling you to
respond. Pray and tell Jesus your intended response to what you have heard. It might be praise or action of some kind, or something to think further on etc.
Resting in God (Contemplatio)
Read verses Mt 20:1-16 one final time. Rest in the words in silence for a few minutes. Close in prayer.