Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Matthew chapter 20

This Is such an amazing chapter! I actually want to start this study by saying that chapters 19 and 20, should be considered as one unit. Chapter 20 is a continuation of what was happening in 19.  If we consider them together, we will have a better understanding of what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples, and us, on His journey to the cross.

Two times in chapter 19, the disciples make comments to Jesus about something that has happened, that reveals their heart feelings and motives on the subjects being discussed. In verse 19:10, Jesus ignores the true motive in their casual remark about marriage and teaches on celibacy. In verse 19:27, after seeing Jesus tell the rich young ruler to sell everything and give it to the poor and come and follow Him, they in essence said to Him that they had already done what he had asked of the rich young man. So, what was there going to be for them? They said to Him that they had given up "everything" for Him.
 If I were Jesus, I would have been tempted to tell them that they had no idea what they were saying. I would have told them that they were giving up nothing compared to what I had to do for them. I would have told them how I could hold the universe in my hand and that I had laid my crown aside to save their measly lives. 
Instead, our precious, humble, glorious Lord, tells them what they will inherit when He comes into His glory. But, He finishes chapter 19 with the words  " many who are first will be last and the last will be first"
This is where we start chapter 20.  Verses 19:30 and 20:1, are actually the same sentence. After saying that the first will be last and the last shall be first, Jesus starts the parable of the landowner with a vineyard.
Verse 20:2 tells us that the landowner agrees to pay the workers a denarius  for the days work. In verses 20:3-7, the landowner continues to visit the marketplace all day long to hire workers.  This actually is very hard work. We have a vineyard near our home. The vines on their stands are pretty short ,only about half the height of a man so this job requires a lot of bending and stooping. Once harvested into a basket or bucket the grapes are quite heavy. You can imagine how hard this job would be while working in the hot sun.
In verse 20:8, the land owner tells his foreman to call the workers and pay them. He tells him to start with the workers who were hired last. When the workers lined up, according to when they were hired , the workers saw that the guys who had only worked an hour, got a full denarius  and assumed, that since they had worked longer, they would be paid more. Of course they did! We would have thought the same thing. 
Many times I wondered why some of the guys went all day without being chosen. This artist gives us the idea that they were smaller or younger and not as desirable as the bigger stronger guys."the last shall be first and the first shall be last"
After all, isn't that only fair? Not only had they worked all day in the scorching heat but now they were having to stand in line behind the guys who only worked and hour, and wait to be paid!

Verse 20:11 tells us that when these hot, tired workers got to the front of the line and got their pay, they grumbled to the land owner because they only got paid a denarius, the same as the guys who worked a shorter day. Jesus finishes with verses 12-15 to show how the story turns out. The men did not get anymore money for grumbling. The land owner could do what he wanted with his money. He had kept his agreement. He had not wronged anyone. But, Jesus finishes with the whole point of the story. He finishes where He began in verse 30 of chapter 19. In verse 20:16 He says, "Thus, the last shall be first and the first shall be last."

This story of the land owner and his vineyard, strikes at the very heart of what human beings would consider fair. It is a universal story that every human can relate to in any culture. It is timeless, and just as emotion invoking now as it was on the day when Jesus spoke it to his disciples. 

Jesus is teaching the eternal in these two chapters. He is trying to get His disciples to  think with an eternal perspective. Jesus is the first who became last and the last who will become first. In Isaiah 53, we see Jesus "despised and forsaken of men" who by the end of the chapter is the conquering hero. He wanted His disciples to make the connections here. He wanted them to think differently about everything. He wanted them to realize that how humans decide who is useful and what is valuable or fair, is not how God decides. He was trying to enable them to see that the road to glory was not going to be what they thought it would be. They should not expect to be treated fairly by the world's standards. Remember, they had just told Jesus that they had given up everything for him (19:27)and wanted to know what their reward would be. 
They needed this lesson because before long they would  see the Lord unfairly tried, convicted and murdered for being kind, caring and sinless. He would suffer unspeakable torture and shame for healing the sick and raising the dead. Their world was going to turn upside down.
As they started their journey down the road to Jerusalem for the last time, he tells them this. (read Matt. 20:17-19)  
I am positive that they still did not understand. We know that is true because in John 21:8-9, we are told that when they entered the tomb they saw and believed but before that time they did not understand about Him rising from the dead. They had been in hiding since His crucifixion. It wasn't until Jesus rose from the dead and they received the Holy Spirit,  that all of the words and teachings of our Lord made sense to them. They gained an eternal perspective.

I love the next part of this chapter. In verses 20:20-28 the mother of James and John comes to make a request of Jesus. She asks if "Her boys" could be honored above the others. It says that she got down on her knees to ask the Lord this favor.  Eerdmans says that it is clear that she was not asking that her boys  receive this honor in death but that she still thought that Jesus would be setting up His earthly kingdom very soon. Jesus, ever patient, says "you do not know what you are asking for, Can you drink of the same cup I will drink?" They say yes, clearly still not understanding what that cup will be.
It tells us that the other 10 disciples became indignant at James and John. It seems that the lesson on the last being first and the first being last had been lost on them. They did not want these two to be honored in anyway above them. That was not fair, they didn't deserve special honor. In verse 20:25, Jesus calls them together to address them quietly and I believe gently, as a mother would call her child to a private conversation to set something right. He tells them that they have seen how the world government operates but that it is not to be so among them. He says, whoever wishes to be great must be the servant of all, who ever wants to be first, must be the slave. Then He teaches in verse 20:28 that He is to be their example of ambition . He says He "did not come to be served, but to serve and become a ransom for many" His Classic example to them is in John 13. 

The last part of this chapter is very important
 to me. Verses 20:29-34 is the account of the blind men who cry out to Jesus from the side of the rode. The verses say that a great multitude was there. The blind men cried out "Lord , Have mercy on us Son of David". They called out "Son of David" to show Him that they knew that He was the Messiah. The crowd tried to stop them from crying out to Him but they cried out all the louder. The scripture says that he stopped to talk to them and was "moved with compassion."  Jesus touched their eyes and immediately they were healed and followed Him. This is the prayer I pray as I continue to pray for my little daughter who needs a healing. (she is the one holding the puppy). I pray those very words. "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us" and then I pray that he will be moved with compassion and heal my daughter. He has already healed her in many ways. She has succeeded at things that the Drs. never thought she would . But she still needs the Lord's healing touch in her voice and muscle strength. Pray for my daughter if you think of her. I know that this is kind of personal, thanks for reading.

To finish. I find these two chapters to be incredible, life changing chapters in our journey to start living our lives with an eternal perspective. This world is passing away. Our hope is in Him. The servant of all. The eternally patient, all loving, all knowing Lord. Who will come on a white horse to claim His bride,us. To the world, foolishness (1st Corinth.1:25). 

Keep reading, keep studying. The things you are reading, are for the eternal. TO REMEMBER THIS CHAPTER WE WILL USE 20 WORDS. (UGH) I KNOW, BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL GIVE YOU REMEMBRANCE. JUST ASK.


God bless you ladies, I am praying for every one of you. Pray for an eternal perspective in everything you do.


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