Christ and the Rich Young Ruler
Often when Christ spoke, he spoke in metaphors or parables. As part of his teachings the message was often of what needed to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Some sacrifices were physical and some spiritual. Likewise, Jesus also explained the rewards for righteousness as physical and spiritual; even sometimes one being a metaphor for the other.
When a young man of wealth came to Christ and asked what was needed for Eternal Life he was eventually told, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” The account goes on to say that the young man went “away sorrowful.”
It can be assumed that the young man was unwilling to part with his possessions for the Heavenly gift. Even if he had done so, his reluctant heart would prevent a full blessing. In Moroni 7:8 he tells us that “if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.”
It contrast we can see a willful heart in the father of King Lamoni. When he was presented the Gospel by the missionary Aaron he asked what he needed to do as that young man did. He offered all saying, “I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.” But Aaron told him what he needed was to repent of his sins and call upon God in faith. And the king did just that. He said that, “I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day”
It is interesting to note that these two people had identical questions, but were given opposite answers. One had kept the commandments and asked to give up his riches, and the other had riches and asked to give up his sins. I tells us that God knows our hearts. There isn’t a laundry list of deeds to perform and sacrifices to make to inherit Eternal Life. It inherit Eternal Life we need to be willing to put the things of God first in our lives.
The Parable of The Laborers In The Vineyard
Jeffrey R Holland recently changed my interpretation and understanding of this parable when he spoke about it in the April 2012 General Conference. Laborers were hired through out the day for and when the end of the day came, all were paid the same wage.
There are two parties we often ascribe ourselves to. Either we are the laborers who from the beginning set to work in the field, or we think of ourselves as those chosen to come in the final hour. There is not one party we truly belong to, and at times we might have even identified with either and different times in our lives or situations.
I commonly think of those who came in the end as converts to the church. When the householder goes out for the last time and see them standing idly by. He asks why they are not working. It isn’t that they were lazy, or showed up late, or unwilling to work. They stood all day watching the good fortune of others, but receiving none for themselves. Elder Holland relates, "Indeed, if there is any sympathy to be generated, it should at least initially be for the men not chosen who also had mouths to feed and backs to clothe. Luck never seemed to be with some of them. With each visit of the steward throughout the day, they always saw someone else chosen." They are those “who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.” (D&C 11:12) But when they are found, the household takes pity on them and gives them an equal part.
To the one who has work by the sweat of his brow all the day, it might not seem so equal. If the going rate is now a penny an hour, then those men should be given twelve cents! But the penny is not a monetary token, it is a symbolic one. It represents all that a family needs to survive for that day. It is what all that stood in the market had hopes to receive, to be able to feed their families. And at the end of the day all had received it. Those chosen in the first hour had that reassurance early in the day and worked hard knowing that they were secure. Those selected later had no such assurance. While the first suffered under the heat of the day, the last suffered the agony of potentially returning home empty handed to face hungry children.
But the Kingdom of God is not all we need for a day, it is all that the Father hath. As I think about the gospel, I am so fortunate to have been raised in the Church. I get to live my whole life knowing the love of God and the safety found in the commandments. It must be agony to desire the happiness found in the Plan of Salvation and not be able to find it. We are blessed, and we should have joy and rejoicing in those who will be able to receive of an equal part.
Read some of our other New Testament Readings posts.