In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It’s a good thing that God does not deal with you out of a sense of fairness. If that were the case, it’s a safe bet to assume that no one would be here, that He would have smote everyone long ago. The world would be a desolate place, and hell would be overcrowded.
No, you still live, not because God is fair, but because He is just, merciful, and gracious. You know that. You can sit there and recite it left and right. You believe it with all of your heart. But there is still a constant nagging voice in the back of your head that says it is unfair that God would treat and gift the newest Christian the same as He would you—that the newest Lutheran has the same standing before God as you who have been a Lutheran since the day you were baptized as an infant. The Father is completely indifferent to whether or not you were born into the faith or baptized when you were in your eighties; thief on the cross or apostle; Saul or Luke; early morning, third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, or eleventh hour. It just isn’t fair.
Yet, this unfairness is exactly what the kingdom of heaven is like. This says more about the King of heaven than the kingdom, as the master in the parable even says, “I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?” The master can do whatever He pleases with His own things, even if that seems unfair to you.
It says that the King of heaven is not bound by fallen humanity’s silly idea of fairness. He doesn’t care how long or how short one has been Christian—for Him, what matters is that this one has faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, this faith which apprehends the grace that Jesus Christ has won for him and made it his own. For such a one as this, the Father looks down and calls out, “Call the laborers and give them their wages: to the last, the forgiveness of sins and entrance into my everlasting kingdom; to the first, the forgiveness of sins and entrance into my everlasting kingdom.”
I could end the sermon right there. It would make for my shortest sermon ever, at about half a page. But there was something about this text that was brought to my attention which is often overlooked. No matter when the laborers were hired, they worked.