In the sermon text today, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who hired laborers for his vineyard. This isn’t just a detail added for color or to make the parables more realistic or concrete. The word first shows up in the Septuagint after the Flood when Noah plants a vineyard. It’s not only Noah’s vocation, but it becomes a symbol for renewed humanity. Noah and his family have come through the flood and are God’s new covenant people. And that symbolism carries through Scripture. Moses points out repeatedly that the Israelites are going into the Promised Land, and it is full of vineyards that they did not plant. The blessings of God are pictured in terms of vineyards, and remember it was enormous clusters of grapes that the spies had brought back from the land of Canaan. Vineyards are full of vines that grow grapes, and usually a significant portion of those grapes are used for making wine. Vineyards are not merely a culturally unique part of middle eastern life. Vineyards are the birthplace of wine, and wine is universally received as a drink of joy, relaxation, rest, and celebration. For Noah to plant a vineyard and drink wine is for him to rest in the provision of God. For Israel to be ushered into a land full of vineyards, is to be ushered into a land of wine. A land flowing with God’s rest, refreshment, and joy. Later, when the prophets come to preach against Israel’s idolatries, they proclaim judgments on Israel and her vines, her vineyards. The judgment of God will mean no more vineyards, no more wine, nor more rest and joy. In Isaiah 5, God sings a song of his beloved Israel who is pictured as a vineyard with a tower in its midst with a winepress in it. And of course this meal continues this theme. The Lord invites us to his table to taste the fruit of the vineyard. And yet in an important sense, we find ourselves still laboring in the vineyard. We are still looking forward to the resurrection, to the fullness of the kingdom, to the restoration of all things. And that makes us a good bit like the Israelites in the wilderness tasting the grapes from the promised land. Here we do participate in the new life, in the kingdom of heaven, and we are called to work towards this peace and joy in our lives. But this is the call of faith. Here are the grapes, here is proof that you are workers in the vineyard, and that fruit is good. Here is proof that you have a good landowner. He is not stingy; he is good. So come and taste the fruit of the vineyard. Come rest and rejoice in the goodness of God.