Summary: This is the first in a 7-part series on the Parables. The Parable of the 11th Hour Work was told to describe God as a Landowner unlike any other.

[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at]

This morning we’re beginning a brand new series called, “MasterStoryteller.” During His ministry on earth, Jesus told dozens, maybe hundreds of vivid stories that changed people’s lives. Forty-five of these stories are recorded in gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Many of them have become classic pieces of literature the world over. People on every continent recognize stories like The Good Samaritan, The Pearl of Great Price, The Parable of the Mustard Seed, The Prodigal Son, and The Rich Man and Lazarus. Phrases from these stories have seeped into almost every culture. Phrases like, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” “Separating the sheep from the goats.”“Sifting the wheat from the chaff.” “Well done, good and faithful servant.” all come from stories told by Jesus, the MasterStoryteller.

A strong argument could be made that the greatest composer, the greatest originator of stories, was Jesus of Nazareth. He not only told stories that then were retold and retold and retold - His stories changed lives. At the end of His famous Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus told the story of The Wise Man Who Built His House on the Rock, the people who heard the story were amazed at His teaching. At the end of the story of The Sower of the Seeds, the disciples were so moved they took Jesus aside to ask for more. Every time Jesus told a story, crowds would gather and then go home changed. That’s why we’ll be looking at seven of Jesus’ stories this summer.

Here’s my promise to you: if you will come for all seven sermons this summer, if you’ll listen, take notes and respond, you will be a more Jesus-like person by the time the time school rolls around. You’ll know God better, you’ll want to live for Him more fully, you’ll approach life with greater understanding and ability: you’ll be a better person. That’s my promise to you.

That’s a much better promise than whatever you were hoping to get out of a week or two’s vacation, isn’t it? So remake your summer plans. After all, they say it’s going to be a bad hurricane season in the Caribbean, so you wouldn’t want to go there. The dollar has fallen against the Euro, the Pound, and the Canadian dollar, so those destinations are all out. You live within a 10 minute drive of the beach, Sea World is ½ hour away, so is Lego Land, The Wild Animal Park, and the San Diego Zoo. Gas prices are at an all time high, repurpose your plans and make it a New Song/MasterStorytelling summer.

- Or… come every weekend you’re in town, and listen to the podcast online for the weeks your on vacation. Deal?

Let me pray, and then we’ll dive into our series.

Master, thank you for what we’re going to experience together over the coming weeks. Every person in this room came here this morning hoping for either a word from You or a sign from You, or proof that You exist and care about them. Fulfill these hopes now I pray, by using the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our minds together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Find a Bible and turn to Matthew 20 (p. 976).

When you get there, look at the last few verses of Matthew 19, I want to read from there to show you what prompted this masterstory from Jesus. (Read 19:27-30).

Now look at the end of the masterstory, at Matt. 20:16.

Are Matthew 19:30 and Matthew 20:16 the same? No, they’re reversed. 19:30 starts with, “many who are first will be last,” and 20:16 starts with “the last will be first.”

This is a story that Jesus tells in response to Peter’s concern in chapter 19. Follow me for a minute.

Look up at the heading just above 19:16 and tell me what that says. “The Rich Young Ruler.” The Rich Young Ruler was a 1st century yuppie who had it all. – Wealth, position, prestige, and, in his eyes, he was doing everything rightly. He comes to Jesus to be validated.

“Rabbi,” he says, “what good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus, recognizing the man’s self-importance says, “Well, you must keep the 10 commandments.”

“Done,” say the Rich Young Ruler. “Done. I’ve kept them all from my youth. I am not only rich, young and handsome, I am morally perfect.”

“Okay,” Jesus says, “The first commandment is to have no other gods before God. If you’re really keeping that one, if God really is more important to you than all the things you own, it won’t bother you to sell everything you have and give it to God.”

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