In the last scene of the movie Field of Dreams, before walking into the corn field, Shoeless Joe Jackson turns and asks,
“Hey, do you want to come with us?”
“Do you mean it?”
“No, not you…him.” (pointing to Terrance Mann)
“Wait a second. Why him? I built this field. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me... I’ve done everything that I was asked to do. I didn’t understand it but I’ve done it. And I haven’t once asked, ‘what’s in it for me.’”
“What are you saying, Ray?”
“I'm saying what's in it for me?”
There’s something that we do naturally that is extremely dangerous. We treat the gospel like it’s a transaction. We have this mentality that, “I believe in Jesus, I go to church, I even give money sometimes…I’m a ‘good person’. I’ve done everything that I was asked to do. I didn’t understand it but I’ve done it. And I haven’t once asked, ‘what’s in it for me.’ God owes me.” And when we don’t get what we want or things don’t go the way we want, we’re ready to call God on it.
Matthew 20:1-16 has a parable of laborers in a vineyard, and it goes like this. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Here’s what’s important for us remember about the gospel and the Kingdom of God.
- Don’t forget our roles. God is not the merchant and us the customer. God is the master and we are the laborers. We are not our own, we were bought at the price of Christ’s blood. We have no life apart from the life Christ gave to us when he conquered our death. We have nothing to offer God that He doesn’t already own outright.
- Don’t forget what God has promised or expect things that He never promised. The laborers were promised a denarius for their work just like Ray was promised “if you build it, he will come.” Neither were promised more, but both became indignant when they saw what others got. God’s Word is filled with promises, none of which say that life will be easy, you’ll get everything you want, or God owes you anything. However all of His promises are given freely through Christ and are more than we deserve.
- Don’t forget who we’ve been asked to follow. Jesus didn’t ask the disciples to believe in Him, He asked them to follow Him. Jesus was a man who defended the temple and defended Truth to the religious leaders. Today being Good Friday, can you think of a time where Jesus defended himself? Jesus was God on earth and had the power to do anything he wished. Meanwhile He experienced the most painful death in the history of the world when he didn’t deserve it…why didn’t he defend himself? Answer: You.
Matthew 16:24-28 says, 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
That’s what’s in it for you.