Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Matthew 20 Sermon Notes

Matthew 20:1-34
Sermon Notes
Can’t You See?
March 5, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Jesus ended the last chapter with the last shall be first and the first shall be last. He continues on with an explanation of that statement. There are multiple levels of applications for this truth.
         He shows us to be content. He also teaches us not to envy the blessing of another man. We are glad for the Lord to bless us but not so glad when He blesses others even more. Don’t I deserve that blessing? Well, no, you don’t.
         The problem is that we get a gift and think we have earned it. But gifts generally don’t work that way. The giver gives gifts out of his bounty. His goodness. Wages are paid to earners. But those receiving gifts do so without merit. Why then do we act as if we have earned a better gift than our brother? Well, because we hate him.

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. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
Keep in mind that this land owner hires workers for his vineyard for several reasons. One, he has some work that needs done. Two, he does not like loafers and wants to employ them. Three, he values hard work for an honest wage. And four, he is simply benevolent. We see this as the story progresses.
You kids may think a penny for a day’s work was not such a good deal. Well, it wouldn’t be. This is a denarious, a day’s wages. If we take the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to figure a reasonable days’  wages, we can get some idea of their payment. This was a good employer so maybe he was even more generous than the minimum wage. In our story, the men work for 12 hours. So, a day’s wages for them would have been about $87.
So, the men who were hired at 6am and worked twelve hours were to get $87, in today’s wages.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
He hired some more men at 9am and told them he would pay what was right at the end of the day.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
He hired some more men at NOON and sent them into the field and told them he would pay them what was right.

6 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? 7 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.
Then, at 5pm, one hour before quitting time, he hired some more men and told them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day.

8 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. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
After 6pm when their work day was over, he called the men in for their pay. Those who starting working at 5pm and worked for one hour were given $87. Then, those who worked since NOON, were given $87. Then, those who had worked since 9am were given $87.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
Finally, those men came to the front who had got up early and started working at 6am. Since the other men had already been paid $87 for less than a day’s work, they assumed they would make something more than that. But the owner paid them out $87, the same as the others.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 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.
At 6am, these men were very happy to get a job and work all day for $87. But now that others showed up and got $87 for working less than all day, they suddenly think their work was worth more.
The grumbled against their employer. They became proud of their work over against those who did not work so hard. They agitated for more money because of the work conditions, the heat of the day. The made their work seem harder than it was, we have borne the burden.
Had there been no other workers but themselves, they would have gladl taken their $87 and showed up next morning for $87 more. I suppose now these grumblers are already planning on showing up at 5pm to work less and get the same wage. They grumble but now they may presume upon the goodman’s benevolence.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
The master takes issue with the complaint. The workers accused him of mistreating them but he did not. He did exactly what he said he was going to do and exactly what they had agreed on.  They have no beef with him. If anything, he has a beef with them.

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
The goodman settles with them and sends them on their way but not without upbraiding them first. They take issue with his generosity. Why? Not because they were not recipients. They were. But that others were even more generously treated. This they could not tolerate.
The goodman questions them. Is thine eye evil? Are you greedy because I am good? Do you look to take advantage of my kindness to others. While you were happy with me when I treated you well, why are you now sad that I treated others with even more kindness? What is this evil lurking in your heart?
Is it not lawful for me to be kind to some and even more kind to others? Do you take issue with my kindness? Would, perhaps, you would have me treat you according to your desserts? It is not looking to good for you at this point.

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
My desire is to bless greatly. Those who suffer long and work hard receive their reward. Those who wait till the end of the day to receive their reward do not lose it.

Matt. 20:17   And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18 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, 19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Jesus has just taught that the last shall be first. Now, He talks to them about death and suffering. These disciples will suffer. And whatever reward is right, the Lord will give them.

Matt. 20:20   Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 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.
James and John are grown men. They run a commercial fishing venture with their partners Peter and Andrew. But their proud mother brings them to Jesus so that He can exalt them to their proper honor. Laughable really. This mother expects these two fisherman to be the chief counselors in Jesus’s kingdom. She encourages Jesus to promote them above their fellows.
This is no spiritual request. She is not asking Jesus to take James and John to Heaven when He goes. She is asking Jesus to make them the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury.

22 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?
You don’t know what you are asking. You do not yet see what My kingdom will be like. The first will suffer like Me. If you knew this, you would not ask.

They say unto him, We are able.
From this we know that their mother did not come alone. James and John are with her. The three of them colluded in this plan for power.

23 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.
On this occasion, the Sons of Thunder are still seeking to be first. As you know, James was the first martyr. As such, he will receive a great reward. From that perspective he was able to drink the cup that Jesus drank and he did enter into his reward. He labored only one hour but received the highest honor. His brother John labored all the day and he, too, received the highest honor. The last shall be first and the first last.

24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
These others were not happy with those who would work one hour with Jesus and get the great blessing. They grumbled against the brothers. They thought to make themselves equal with us.
These were really good men. The Lord Jesus chose them to be the Apostles of the Church. If they could be so petty, we should watch our own deceitful hearts.

25 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.
James and John and you other disciples, you all know that the Gentiles love their strong-handed authority structures. They rule with an iron fist. You’ve seen rule that way but we have a new way now, God’s way.

26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Do not rule like that. Do not lord it over the flock. Do not seek to be the ruler of men. The chain of command is really a chain of submission. Will you see this and submit to serving me and those to whom I send you? I came to serve you if you can believe it. I am the Lord and yet I wash your feet. Do you understand?
So do you want to be the greatest? Then be the greatest servant. This does not mean that you grovel. I recognize  your service and will grant you the right reward.
I, the Lord, will give my life a ransom, and so shall you. Can’t you see?

Matt. 20:29   And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30 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. 31 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.
We have two blind men who want to see. Jesus has been dealing with blind men who are flailing in the dark. They are like workers who cannot see the kindness and blessing around them.
The multitudes rebuke the blind men. It was as if they were saying, “Be content in your blindness. Why do you want to see?”
These blind men have been last in the order of things. They are likely beggars. They cannot hold down a good paying job. They are despised by the crowd. But they will be first in the line for blessing from Jesus.

32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? 33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
But these men want to see and Jesus wants to heal them. If only His disciples were so eager to see. If only blind Israel would feel the healing touch of Jesus.

34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
Jesus heals them and they see. And they follow Jesus. All who follow Jesus will see and all who see will follow Jesus.
But not so with those who oppose Him. Not so with those who despise His kindness. Not so with those who aspire to climb the tower of power. Not so with those who scandalously seek the seat of honor next to Jesus. They will remain in their blindness.
James and John will see. Peter and Andrew and the others will see. Judas will not. But those who humble themselves before the Lord, take up their cross and serve the Lord of glory, will receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Can’t you see that?

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