Matthew 20: 2-4.“And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them: Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.”
It would be a mistake to attempt to spiritualize every detail of this parable. Some have tried to make the penny (denarius) to represent Jesus and His atonement. If that were so, then we would indeed be working to earn our salvation. Others have tried to use the wages as representing rewards, and showing that all will be equally rewarded. This teaching is contrary to scripture and doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny.
How about we just take the denarius as a denarius, the wage that was offered to each worker? Doing so will make us much more likely to understand the true teaching of this parable, which really isn’t all that complicated.
The owner of the vineyard went into the marketplace during the third hour and saw men standing idly, hoping to be hired. He sent them all into his vineyard, promising to pay them what was right. It was still early in the day, between 8 and 9 in the morning, but it was probably starting to heat up. Those who had been there earlier were already looking for a cold drink and a shady place, I imagine, and must have seen the new recruits come into the fields, looking for a supervisor who would tell them where to begin work.