In Matthew 20 Jesus told a parable in which the church is shown as the vineyard of God. The parable starts out, “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborer’s into his vineyard” (Matthew 20:1). In this parable, the man hired workers throughout the day. Each was told what their pay would be, but some thought they were mistreated when those hired last received the same pay as those hired first. In this parable, Jesus taught the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Those who labor in the vineyard should do it with all their might and the Lord will reward—not on length of service, but on the depth of service.
It is interesting to notice the parallels between an actual vineyard and the vineyard of the Lord. According to an article in Wine Maker Magazine, there are several steps one must take to grow a vineyard. The writer explains the requirement that one must have enough vine growth to establish “a strong and vigorous root system.” In thinking about the establishment of the church, the apostles preached to the masses after the Holy Spirit came upon them on the day of Pentecost. About three thousand souls obeyed the gospel on that day (Acts 2:41) and the “vine” growth began. These men who first proclaimed the gospel to the world were strong and vigorous in the faith. The apostles continued preaching and teaching and “the Lord added to the church such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). As the gospel continued to be preached, the numbers continued to increase (Acts 4:4). The strength of the “vine” is seen as all worked together in the vineyard.
Luke describe the togetherness of working in the vineyard in Acts 4:32 – 35. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” The “root” system reached deep into the hearts of mankind.
In a vineyard, a vine’s root strength is essential and to maintain strong roots takes work. This process requires proper feeding and watering. The same is true in the vineyard of God—proper feeding and watering is a must.
Paul told the elders at Miletus that they were to “feed the church of God” (Acts 20:28). In the early church, the apostles led the way working in God’s vineyard; but the apostles are gone now. God has left instructions for men to be chosen to lead the workers in the vineyard of God even today (1 Tim. 3:1 – 7). The elders are responsible for making sure that teaching (feeding and watering) is true to God’s word without addition or subtraction. It is important that this vineyard be well taken care of so souls can be saved.