Matthew Chapter 20

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.  And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

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.

Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?  They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 

But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.

So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

The beginning of Chapter 20 is a continuation of where chapter 19 ended, with Jesus telling the disciples about heaven, and how the first shall be last…

Here Jesus tells a parable to describe the Kingdom, which shows that not only Jews will be ‘called’ but Gentiles as well.  Yes the Jews were given the call from the beginning (first part of the day) and while many came, there was still more work (room) for more.  And not only that, but those who come late, still receive the same grace, mercy, blessings, assurance and promises as those who were called first.  And it shows that God doesn’t owe anyone anything, that He is a giver, and can give whatever He will which is always above what anyone deserves.

Notice too, the times of day they are ‘hired’.   It is one day hiring, which is one life time. Some are hired in the morning, in their youth. Some are hired mid day, and some are hired in the 11th hour, the last, old age… so, it proves you’re never too old to come, and the invitation is to all who answer, no matter the time (or age).  As long as you accept the invitation there is a place for you!

Evening (end of life) came and it was time for the day’s wages to be paid.  Those who came first were paid their wages first, and so on, yet all the wages are the same.

This is also seen in 1 Thessalonians 4,  At the great day, though the dead in Christ shall rise first (the early shift, yet they which are alive and remain, on whom the ends of the world (the late shift) comes, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds- there is no partiality and each of us stand on our own to collect our same wages which is a gift from God.

Envy though, while not present in the kingdom can be seen in the parable, as those who came early grumbled about those who came in the last hour being paid the same.  This is similar to ‘sibling rivalry’ seen throughout the history of the Israelis as Isaac was the 2nd born to Abraham, but he was the child of promise.  Essau and Jacob, Joseph the youngest brother etc.  I used to have a hard time with that concept when I first began reading the Bible, but over time and learning, it’s become so clear that God bestows what He will on whomever He will. It. Is. All. Grace. Pure and simple.

It may be a way to show the disciples that they shouldn’t boast about being chosen ‘first’ or feel superior to other believers who come later due to their work in the vineyards.  It could also be a warning of sorts to the Jews when Gentiles come into the same field, later, yet receive the same promises from God that they have had all through their history.  Many will be called,  but few chosen.

Next, again Jesus reminds them of the road ahead and his coming time of suffering and death.  Here He goes into a little more detail, speaking of the priests, scribes and gentiles.  He might be reminding them, to prepare them, but maybe more so to set an example of willingly going through persecution for a purpose.  And His mentioning here, the purpose is to raise three days after, which is an encouragement to the disciples, even if maybe at that point, it seemed unbelievable.  The three had seen Him glorified during the transfiguration, and by His assurance that He would raise 3 days later, Jesus was helping them to remember to look past the suffering, keeping their eyes on the future promise eternal glory.

We then have a request of the brother disciples James and John.  They seem pretty confident, yet like so many of us, focused on what we know instead of what is to come.  Again, they seem transfixed on the idea of Jesus setting up a ‘government’, and they request to be His 2nd in command of sorts.  Notice Jesus doesn’t hard rebuke them for it, although He does make it plain that if they expect such honor, they will have to ‘drink of the same cup’.  Again, out of over confidence (maybe the same that Peter had had before, Surely not Lord!)  They believed in their ability to do what only Jesus was going to suffer, not yet understanding the ramifications of such boasting.

But it’s funny that they dared not boast themselves, but had their mom do it instead lol. I don’t mean to laugh, because all of us get times when we’d like to brag, but don’t want to appear proud, so we find someone willing to brag on us instead.

Then again Jesus does say, Ask and it shall be given.  So they asked. But this is the thing. Jesus doesn’t give things out just because we want them. He’s not our personal Santa. As with everything, He looks at the heart, and weighs His answers on the condition of it.

James and John’s hearts were prideful here, and somewhat covetous. They wanted something special, over that of the others.  And Jesus does answer- them, not their mom.

Ye know not what ye ask.  That’s a pretty mild answer, carefully addressing their ignorance and then, reminds them that they too will suffer, bringing their minds out of their visions of grandeur and greatness.

We should all ask ourselves, and think seriously whether we can drink of the same cup that not only Jesus drank from, but millions of martyrs over the past 2000 years as well.  It’s a good way to keep our minds focused on not just the goodness and promises of the life to come, but what Jesus expects of us before that happens.

And yet, whether James and John or the other disciples, or any believers through the church age drink of it or not, it is God the Father who has already set things in place. Jesus, God the Son acknowledges that He submits to His Father’s will, and while all the Father has given is His, Jesus gives eternal life, but the Father has already settled the affairs of the Kingdom and it’s not Jesus’s place to promise anything after the fact, especially when it’s a worldly desire.

So of course the other disciples grumbled about this whole conversation- not because of the brother’s audacity to ask, but because they’re most likely thinking “HEY! What about us?! We’re part of this group too!”

So Jesus reminds yet again, of humbleness, that they are to serve, teach, bear burdens and be patient with- not hold dominion over, the people the way the gentile officials did. That service includes serving for edification of one another, not serving and edifying one’s self.

The Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many…

Again, Jesus sets the example of what followers should do.

Lastly we find the blind begging Jesus to help open their eyes.  They are being rebuked by the crowds who are around by this time.  Again, Jesus shows compassion on the two, over the rebuking of the many.

But the two are persistent (much like the gentile woman whom persisted that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table) and Jesus rewards them for their persistence.   He asks them what would they have Him do.

They were beggars, yet they didn’t ask for alms or money as they would have from other passersby, but they specifically asked for healing.  And Jesus had compassion on them and granted their request.

When I read that verse, “open our eyes”,  it stands so clear that it’s not physical blindness Jesus wants to heal us of, but spiritual blindness.  If they wanted to be physically healed, they’d have said, “let us see”.   Jesus gave them both.   “And they followed Him”.

The most present theme I see woven in this chapter is of God’s grace, compassion, mercy and love, and it’s an amazingly comforting chapter when we see how abundant God gives us freely.

Have a blessed Wednesday all!