Series 41


by Francis Dixon
Key-verse: “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” (Matthew 21:28)

The Lord’s desire and intention for every one of His children is three-fold. First, that they should be holy; second, that they should be happy; and third, that they should be useful. We will consider the third of these – our Lord’s word of commission to us as His servants – “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” There are five significant words, each of which brings a vital aspect of truth in relation to the service into which He has called us and in which we should be engaged. What do they tell us about the whole matter of Christian service?


1. The word “SON” describes the basis of Christian service

It is very important to see that the basis of all true Christian service is relationship with God and that this involves being born into His family (John 3:3,5). Relationship is the first qualification for service. Sonship must precede service. It is a sad thing that there are many people serving the Lord who are not sons, for they have never been born into His family (John 1:11-13). The work of regeneration, of the new birth, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when we are led to trust the Lord Jesus as our personal Saviour (Titus 3:5). It is only after we are born into the family of God that we qualify to enter His service in the place of His appointment. How sad that unregenerate, unconverted, unsaved people are engaged in Christian work! – look up 2 Timothy 3:5. Are you a member of God’s family, a “son”?


2. The word “GO” describes the authority of Christian service

What is it that gives anyone the authority to preach the gospel, whether from a pulpit, in the open air, in a class, by word of mouth, by letter, or by any other way? Where is our authority for proclaiming and spreading the good news of the gospel? It is in our Lord’s word “Go”. It is the command and commission of the Lord Himself (Matthew 28:19-20). Look up Psalm 126:6. We are not to be content to keep this news of salvation to ourselves; if we do so, “we’re not doing right. This is a day of good news” (2 Kings 7:3-9). Jesus said, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in” (Luke 14:23). Are you responding to this word of the Lord, and going forth into His service?


3. The word “WORK” describes the nature of Christian service

The word is ‘work’, not ‘shirk’. We must emphasise this because it has been said that God’s work is progressing very slowly today because so many Christians are lazy and lacking in holy enthusiasm for the Lord and for the salvation of others. What a solemn charge! Think about Matthew 9:36-38. We are ambassadors of the King of kings, but are we really representing Him on this foreign territory of the world where He has placed us? Look up 2 Corinthians 5:19-20. We are workers together with God, in partnership with Him, but are we active or sleeping partners (2 Corinthians 6:1)? All around us men and women are filled with a great deal of enthusiasm for the things they are doing. Are we as enthusiastic for the things of the Lord?


4. The word “TODAY” describes the time of Christian service

For some people it is extraordinarily hard to live in the present. They are always planning ahead and looking forward to this or that which is going to happen next week, next month or next year. This is very exciting. But the important thing is to live for today, and this is exactly what the Lord says to us here: “Son, go and work today…” Surely this emphasises the urgency of the task of world evangelisation (John 9:4); see how our Lord felt about this at that time, and feels about it today. In many parts of the world doors are now closed, doors which were once open for the gospel; and in many parts of the world doors which are now open are gradually closing. Apart from the fact that all the signs of the times point to an increasing darkness which will cover the face of the earth, there is also the pressing and immediate need of multitudes of souls around us who are without Christ and without hope (Ephesians 2:12). The King’s business is urgent (1 Samuel 21:8), and compare Hebrews 3:7.


5. The word “VINEYARD” describes the sphere of Christian service

Where are we to serve the Lord when He commissions us? We are to serve Him in His vineyard, which means in the place of His choosing. If you will place yourself at the Lord’s disposal He will soon show you where and how He would have you serve Him. Maybe He will call you into a ministry of intercession; maybe He will delegate some special task to you at your church; maybe He wants you to train for missionary service; maybe He wants you to prepare for the Christian ministry. Who knows? He knows! – and if you are His “son”, and if you are really at His disposal, He will show you which service He has planned for you. You can be sure that in response to your obedience He will give you all His enabling so that you can fulfil His purposes and engage in His work. In Matthew 9:36-38 we have a picture of the need of the lost (verse 36); the need for workers (verse 37); and the way to secure workers (verse 38).

There is nothing more wonderful, and certainly nothing more satisfying, than this: to be able to say at the close of each day, ‘Through His amazing grace, I am working in the Lords vineyard, the very place He has appointed for me, and I am doing it in total dependence on Him and with His enabling!’ Are you able to say that?