Some parents tried to bring their children to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples, however, thinking that the parents and their children were bothering Jesus, prevented them from approaching him.

“Don’t stop them!” called Jesus. “Let the children come to me, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such folk as these.” Then he placed his hands on the children and blessed them.

Travelling on to the next town, Jesus was met by a young man.

“Good teacher,” he said, “what good thing should I do to gain eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” asked Jesus. “There’s only One who is good. But if you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” asked the young man.

“‘You shall not commit murder,” said Jesus. “You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not lie. Honour your father and mother. Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

“I’ve done all that,” said the young man. “What else should I do?”

“If you want to be perfect,” said Jesus, “go and sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he left Jesus and went away sad, because he had many possessions.

“Truly,” said Jesus to the disciples, “it’s very hard for someone who’s rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a someone who’s rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were astounded.

“Then who can be saved?” they asked.

Jesus looked at the disciples intently.

“With men, it’s impossible,” he said, “but with God – everything is possible.”

“Look,” said Peter, “we’ve given up everything to follow you. What are we going to get?”

“I can assure you,” said Jesus, “that at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property for my sake will receive a hundred times as much – and will also inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

“That’s because the kingdom of heaven is like the landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. Finding some, he agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“At nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw some more people in the market-place doing nothing. He told them, ‘You too can go and work in my vineyard, and I’ll pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again at noon and at three o’clock in the afternoon and did the same thing. At five o’clock he went out again and saw still more people standing around.

“‘Why haven’t you been working today?’ he asked.

“‘Because no-one’s hired us,’ they said.

“Go and join the others at work in my vineyard,’ he said.

“When evening came, the landowner gave specific instructions to his foreman.

“‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, but make sure you begin with the last workers first.”

“The workers who were hired at five o’clock in the afternoon were paid and each of them received a denarius. When those who’d been hired first came to get their pay, they assumed that they would receive more, but they also were paid a denarius. Upon receiving it, they protested to the landowner.

“‘Those people only worked for an hour and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you’ve paid us who’ve worked all day in the scorching heat.’

“‘I’m not being unfair,” said the landowner. “Didn’t you agree to work for one denarius? Then take your wages and go. If I want to pay the people who were hired last the same as you, I can. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Why should you be jealous just because I’m generous?’

“So it is that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”


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