"God's kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.
They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
"Later, about nine o'clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed.
He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage.
At five o'clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, 'Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?
' "They said, 'Because no one hired us.' "He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
"When the day's work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, 'Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.'
"Those hired at five o'clock came up and were each given a dollar.
When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar.
Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager,
'These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.'
"He replied to the one speaking for the rest, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn't we?
So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you.
Can't I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?'
"Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)