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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Matthew 20

 

 

Verses 1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard - In Matthew 20:1-16 Jesus teaches to His disciples the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. The central idea of this parable is that God rewards mankind based upon His grace rather than upon man's good works. This concept is reversed in the carnal mind since man believes the greatest heavenly rewards come to those who present the most good works to God. 511]

511] Grant Osborne says, "This is closely connected to the previous verse () on "the last shall be first" and in fact concludes with that verse in reverse order (20:16). Thus this parable centers on the concept of reward and God's reversal of human concepts of pay/reward on the basis of God's grace rather than human effort." See Grant R. Osborne, Matthew , in Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 725.

Jesus has just explained about the dangers of covetousness in Matthew 19:16-30 by saying that we must be ready to forsake the things of this world in order to be a part of the Kingdom of God. Any other choice is made because of covetousness, which is trusting in this world's riches. He now illustrates for His disciples the eternal outcome of such choices by telling the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard finds its context in the question asked by the rich young ruler ( Matthew 19:16-22). He asked Jesus Christ what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. He was a leading figure in society and could do many good works using his wealth. Thus, he trusted in his wealth as his means of justifying himself rather than in the message of repentance and faith in Jesus as the Christ. Yet, many poor sinners were following Jesus because they believed in Him. Therefore, this parable is a part of His answer, which explains how the first will be last and the last will be first. That Isaiah , those first in society are rejecting the Gospel, while those last in society are easily accepting Jesus.

Within this parable we have insight into God's perspective of His kingdom. The overall theme is that one's trust in worldly riches is a hindrance to eternal life. The rich young ruler was not able to turn loose of his material possessions. In contrast, we read in Luke 19:1-10 how Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, did in fact use his wealth to help the poor as a testimony of his faith in God.

Regarding the allegorical meaning in the parable, those hired first would represent the members of society who have wealth and power, while those hired at the end of the day would represent the undesirable members of society. Those hired first expected higher wages based on their abundance of good works; for this was how society functions. Those in the parable who have laboured longest in the vineyard believe they have earned their wages. These labourers represent those in society who believe they have earned God's favor through their hard work, and see the evidence of God's favouir in their riches and power. Those in the parable who have labored the least realize that their wages come strictly by grace and not by their works. These labourers represent those in society who trust entirely in God's grace to receive His blessings.

The parable teaches us that men believe their degree of good works should determine their heavenly rewards as well. In contrast, those hired at the end of the day understood that their full day's wages were strictly based upon the grace of the householder, and not upon their good works. They became entirely dependent upon the land owner's grace for their reward. The equal wages for all represents the equality of conditions required by God for all men to become recipients of His divine grace. The rich young ruler was "first" in his society, but last in the kingdom of God. The sinners and tax collectors who followed Jesus were considered "last" in society, but were now "first" in the kingdom of God.

The Urgency of the Householder - In the kingdom of God, many people are working to see how it benefits them. With this in their minds, they miss the higher priority of what the Master wants to accomplish. The Lord of the Harvest sees the day coming to a close. The summer is almost ended, but where is the harvest. Our Heavenly Father has enough resources, but where are the labourers? Our eternal rewards will come, but let us get in the harvest. Many are called to work in God's kingdom, but few will enter in because of their trust in this world's riches. The householder knew that the harvest must be gathered immediately. Time was the most important issue in the mind of the householder, and not the cost of hiring the labourers. The closer it came to the end of the day, the more urgent the matter became of finishing the harvest. The householder was willing to invest more money into the harvest in order to insure its completion. For example, I have hired day labourers in Africa in order to complete a job in one day. In those endeavours, I have had plenty of money to pay wages, as the cost of labour in underdeveloped nations is usually small. My biggest concern was getting the job done, and not the cost of getting the job done. This was the way the householder was thinking when he was paying wages to those who only worked one hour. He just wanted the harvest completed before the day ended.

Matthew 20:1 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.

Matthew 20:1Comments - Capturing the mind of the householder, his crop is ready for harvest, and he has a short window of opportunity to gather in the harvest. He is willing to hire as many labourers as are willing to work to get the job done quickly.

Matthew 20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Matthew 20:2Comments - Capturing the mind of the unemployed labourers, they need income. Everything is negotiable, from wages to terms and condition of work. The worker wants as much profit for himself as negotiable. With this urgency in the mind of the householder, he makes trips to hire labourers throughout the day, Revelation -negotiating with each group he hires.

Matthew 20:15 — "Is thine eye evil, because I am good" - Comments- The householder's description of himself as being good in Matthew 20:15 reflects back upon the opening verses of this passage of Scripture where the rich young ruler called Jesus "good master" ( Matthew 19:16).

Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Matthew 20:16Textual Criticism - The words "for many be called, but few chosen" is lacking in many older, reliable Greek manuscripts. Thus, many modern English translations omit this phrase. This phrase is later found verbatim in Matthew 22:14.

Matthew 20:16Comments- Jesus calls many disciples to labour in the harvest fields. Of those labourers, many are not faithful with what they have been entrusted. It is only those who are faithful who will be chosen and entrusted with greater gifts and callings. One minister said that this phrase means that many are called, but few are willing to take the responsibility of their calling.

We can find this reference to faithfulness within the context of being called and chosen in Revelation 17:14. It is the humble that are faithful in God's eyes, those who are willing to bear the burdens of their labours without complaining. These are the ones whom the Lord will choose to exalt. But those who are complaining and unfaithful with what they have will not be entrusted with more.

Revelation 17:14, "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."


Verses 17-19

Jesus Foretells of His Death and Resurrection a Third Time ( Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34) - Matthew 20:17-20 gives us the third mention of the Crucifixion. The first two mentions are:

Matthew 16:21, "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."

Matthew 17:22-23, "And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."

Jesus Foreknew the Events of His Passion- Note that according to Hebrews 12:2-3 Jesus Christ knew exactly what was going to take place before His great sufferings. He knew of Judas Iscariot's betrayal to the chief priest and scribes, of the forsaking of the disciples, of His condemnation at the trials, of His being mocked, of the crown of thorns piercing His head, of the slappings, of the spitting in His face and the parting of the robe, of the reed for a sceptre, etc. For all of these things were prophesied in the Scriptures. He knew of His horrible death, perhaps having seen and heard beforehand of the Roman crucifixions. He knew of His Glory to follow. Amen!!!

Hebrews 12:2-3, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

In Matthew 20:18-19 Jesus said that he would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and scribes ( Matthew 26:3-56), that they would condemn Him to death ( Matthew 26:57-66), that He would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles ( Matthew 27:1-26), mocked ( Matthew 27:27-31), sourged ( Matthew 27:27-28), crucified ( Matthew 27:32-66), and raised from the dead ( Matthew 28:1-10). All of these events came to pass as Jesus had predicted.

Jesus was about to fulfill His destiny at Calvary by making an atonement for the sins of mankind. His three-year ministry upon earth was not His ultimate destiny; rather, this was a season of preparing the Twelve so that they could fulfill their destinies.

Matthew 20:19Comments- Jesus Christ knew the very events involved in His crucifixion.


Verses 17-22

The Testimony of Jesus Regarding Man's Inheritance of Eternal Life - Theme - The testimony of Jesus regarding man's eschatological hope declares that man must offer himself in sacrifice and servanthood through the example offered by Jesus Himself. The previous section ( Matthew 19:3 to Matthew 20:16) testifies that man cannot find redemption through head knowledge of the Scriptures, nor through his efforts to perform the duties of the Law, but through simple faith and dependence upon the grace of God. This section ( Matthew 20:17 to Matthew 21:22) now testifies that through prayer and faith in God's grace, He works abundantly in our lives to bring us to our destinies both in this life and in eternity. Man must offer himself to God as a living sacrifice after receiving God's grace and salvation in order to live an abundant life. Perhaps the testimony of Jesus is offered second among the other testimonies of the Scriptures, John the Baptist, His miracles, and God the Father because Jesus offers the second strongest testimony in this area of man's redemption.

Structure - This narrative section begins with Jesus testifying about His future passion and sacrifice on the Cross as an example of how to obtain eternal life ( Matthew 20:17-19). The story of the the mother of James and John requesting Jesus to exalt her sons ( Matthew 20:20-28) is placed beside the story of Jesus healing two blind men pleading for His mercy, who in turn follow Him as their expression of ultimate sacrifice to God ( Matthew 20:29-34). These two stories contrast man's views of obtaining eternal life based upon merited favor and God's principle of unmerited favor upon those who obtain His mercy by humbling themselves at the feet of Jesus. Jesus denied the request of the mother of James and John because such grace was not His to give, coming from the Father alone ( Matthew 20:20-23); however, He immediately answered the plea of the two blind men who based their request entirely upon God's mercy. The story of the the multitudes honoring the King ( Matthew 21:1-11) is placed beside the story of the Pharisees rejecting their King ( Matthew 21:12-17). These two stories contrast man's traditions of worship with the worship that God has ordained for Himself coming forth from the pure hearts of His children. Jesus then reveals to His disciples the authority in which His servants are to walk when they learn to serve the Lord sacrificially and worship Him in truth ( Matthew 21:18-22).

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Exaltation in the Kingdom thru Servanthood — Matthew 20:17-34

2. The Revelation of Jesus as King — Matthew 21:1-17

3. The Servant's Work in the Kingdom: Prayer and Faith — Matthew 21:18-22

Walking in the Kingdom with Authority - Once the disciples understood Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus began to show them that His authority extended beyond healing the sick and forgiveness of sin. He now displays His divine authority in a number of new ways. In Matthew 20:20 to Matthew 21:22 Jesus walks in the divine authority that the Father has entrusted Him with. He heals a blind man on His way to Jerusalem demonstrating His authority over sickness and sin ( Matthew 20:29-34). He enters Jerusalem with the authority of a king ( Matthew 21:1-11). He then cleanses the Temple with the authority of a high priest ( Matthew 21:12-17). He curses a fig tree with the authority over creation ( Matthew 20:18-22).

Opposition in the Kingdom of God - Each of the petitions and prayers offered to Jesus in Matthew 20:17 to Matthew 21:22 are met by opposition. When the mother of James and John asked Jesus to exalt her sons, the other disciples opposed this request ( Matthew 20:24). When the two blind men cried out to Jesus, the multitudes tried to stop their pleas ( Matthew 20:31). When the multitudes worshipped Jesus as He entered Jerusalem and the Temple, the Jewish leaders opposed such pure worship ( Matthew 21:15). When we offer our prayers unto God, we must be ready to persevere against such opposition in demonstration of our faith in God that He will truly hear and answer our prayers.


Verses 17-34

Exaltation in the Kingdom thru Servanthood - Matthew 20:17-34 testifies of God's willingness to hear and answer our prayers although some prayers require a great deal of sacrifice our man's part. The mother of James and John approached Jesus with her request for God to exalt her sons. This request was not denied; rather, Jesus explained the conditions her sons had to meet in order to position before God as candidates for such blessings. The request of the two blind men is immediately answered because their healing was in the atonement of Jesus Christ and readily available to all who call upon Him in faith. The two blind men had nothing to offer God when approaching Jesus except themselves in their plea for His mercy, which is the foundation of all prayer according to Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Jesus Foretells of His Death & Resurrection — Matthew 20:17-19

2. The Mother's Request — Matthew 20:20-24

3. The Inquiry of the Disciples — Matthew 20:25-28

4. Healing of Two Blind following Jesus — Matthew 20:29-34


Verses 20-23

The Mother's Request ( Mark 10:35-45) - Matthew 20:20-23 records the request of the mother of James and John for Jesus to exalt her sons in His Kingdom. Jesus did not deny her request; rather He explained how this request can only be fulfilled as God's children yield themselves in divine sacrifice so that God the Father can exalt His faithful servants in due season. Jesus then explained that these two sons must offer themselves as a living sacrifice in order to qualify for such a reward, a reward that only God the Father could measure.

Illustration - God always hears our prayers just as Jesus heard the request of the mother of James and John. However, in order for God to answer our prayers, we have to place our lives and our confessions in agreement with His Word and His divine plan of redemption. Many times in our prayers we ask for future events to take place towards our favour. Above all of our petitions and desires, God the Father is continually working out His divine plan of redemption for mankind. Therefore, some prayers simply conflict with this plan of redemption in violation of God's will and His Word, or they are based upon the divine principles of sowing and reaping that must work towards such answers to prayers. We must not think that God did not hear our prayers; for He certain hears everything we ask of Him. If we will then listen to Him, He will guide us through a plan so that our prayers can be fulfilled in accordance to His Word. James says, "…yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." ( James 4:2-3) God wants us to pray and ask Him; and if we will humble ourselves before Him, He will guide us when our prayers are amiss so that we can pray with maturity and self-sacrifice rather than self-centered. The mother of James and John along with her sons were taught by Jesus that there would be many things they had to do in order for such a prayer to come to pass.

Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee"s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

Matthew 20:20"Then came to him the mother of Zebedee"s children with her sons" - Comments- Although Mark 10:35 records James and John coming to Jesus, Matthew records their mother coming with them as she makes the request. These two parallel passages obviously record the same event. James and John were the sons of Zebedee according to Matthew 27:56.

Matthew 27:56, "Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee"s children."

If we compare the list of names in Mark 15:40-41 to those in Matthew 27:56, it is most likely that Salome was John"s mother, though there is no direct mention of this in Scripture.

Mark 15:40-41, "There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem."

If we now compare the parallel verse in John 19:25, we may conclude that Salome, the mother of Zebedee"s children, is also referred to by John as "the sister of Jesus" mother."

John 19:25, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother"s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene."

Therefore, many scholars go so far as to suggest that John was related to Jesus Christ through his mother Salome. In his Gospel, John neither mentions his own name, nor the name of Mary, the mother of Jesus, nor the name of his own mother Salome. Thus, if John is deliberately avoiding the use of these names, he may very well be referring to his mother as "the sister to the mother of Jesus." Thus, the fact that John avoids using these particular names is an indication to his relationship to them.

Upon this premise, the mother of James and John would feel that her two sons would have preference to become rulers with Jesus, seeing that they were blood kin.

"worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him" - Comments- In worshipping Jesus, the mother acknowledges that He is the Son of God. She understood how to approach God with her petitions. Thus, we do not see Jesus denying her request, but rather doing what was within His power to grant her request. He led these two disciples into an acceptance of the cup and the baptism that He Himself was partaking of, which type of sacrifice was the only way to receive such glory. Yet, He left the final decision as to who sits at His right and left hand up to the Heavenly Father, who is the only one that can made such a decision.

Matthew 20:20Comments- Matthew 20:20 begins with the Greek τότε is an adverb of time and means, "at that time," or "that which follows in time…then, thereupon." (BDAG) This adverb places two events together, the revelation of Jesus' passion ( Matthew 20:17-19) and the request of a mother for Jesus to exalt her two sons in the kingdom ( Matthew 20:20-20).

Matthew 20:21 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.

Matthew 20:21 — "And he said unto her, What wilt thou" - Comments- Jesus' response of "What wilt thou?" reveals His willingness to answer this request. God always wants to bless His children. However, He is often limited by a believer's carnality in doing so. Although we can pray amiss, God is willing to do whatever He can within the boundaries of His will and purpose and plan to redeem humanity. The epistle of James tells us that we do not receive from God when we pray amiss.

James 4:3, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

"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" - Comments- Their mother, as well as many other disciples, believed that Jesus was going to set up an earthly kingdom at this time. In fact, Jesus had recently said to His disciples, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." ( Matthew 19:28) Jesus was not headed to Jerusalem for His triumphant entry ( Matthew 20:17). In addition, the disciples again asked Jesus after His resurrection if He were going to immediately set up His kingdom on earth ( Acts 1:6). This mother wanted her two sons to be given positions of great authority in this new kingdom. After all, James and John were a part of the inner circle of three disciples that Jesus favored, and she had observed the Lord's intimacy with her sons above the others. At this point, as a mother trying to instinctively care for her children, she just could not hold back this request.

Acts 1:6, "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"

Matthew 20:21Comments - In Matthew 20:21; Matthew 20:32 Jesus asks the persons addressing Him to make their request. While the mother's request is not quickly answered, the two blind men find God's immediate grace and healing. While the mother depended upon the good works of her two sons James and John as Jesus' close inner circle of disciples, the two blind men had nothing to offer Jesus except their devotion to follow Him after being healed.

Matthew 20:22 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? They say unto him, We are able.

Matthew 20:22 — "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of" - Word Study on "I shall drink of" - In the Greek, the verb "I shall drink of" is inflected in the tendential future tense. This tense means that this event of His suffering is in the impending, or immediate, future. In other words, it is about to take place soon. Therefore, it could be translated, I am about to drink."

Comments- The phrase "to drink of the cup" is used figuratively in Matthew 20:22 to refer to the cup of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ for all the sins of mankind. Jesus will use this figurative phrase at other times in His ministry to refer to His Passion.

Matthew 26:39, "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

John 18:11, "Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"

The cup of wrath and vengeance and suffering is used throughout the Old and New Testaments as well.

Job 21:20, "His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty."

Psalm 11:6, "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup."

Psalm 16:5, "The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot."

Psalm 75:8, "For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them."

Isaiah 51:17, "Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out."

Isaiah 51:22, "Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:"

Jeremiah 25:15, "For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it."

Jeremiah 49:12, "For thus saith the LORD Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it."

Revelation 14:10, "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:"

Revelation 16:19, "And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath."

Matthew 20:22 — "and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with" - Comments- The word baptism is also used to describe our identification with Christ ( Romans 6:3-5). However, that is not the case in this passage. Here, Jesus is referring to a baptism of suffering.

Romans 6:3-5, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"

Matthew 20:22 — "They say unto him, We are able" - Comments- The sons of Zebedee were talking about reigning with Jesus. However, Jesus knew that for someone to reign with Jesus, he must share in His sufferings.

Matthew 20:23 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.

Matthew 20:23 — "And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with" - Comments- In Mathew Matthew 20:23 Jesus grants His disciples their request as far as it was within His dominion and authority. He uses the phrases of drinking of a cup and being baptized figuratively to refer to their future physical suffering and martyrdom as apostles. These two disciples did in fact enter into his sufferings. James was the first of the twelve apostles to become a martyr. John was the last of the twelve apostles to die. Both were faithful. Greatness is bestowed upon those who are faithful.

Acts 12:2, "And he killed James the brother of John with the sword."

Revelation 1:9, " 1 John , who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."

This divine truth applies to us as well as we identify with Jesus on the Cross like Romans 6:3-4.

Romans 6:3-4, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

We, too, must suffer with Him if we are to share in His glory. Suffering precedes glory.

1 Peter 1:11, "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."

We begin this identification with Jesus at salvation and continue to grow more and more like Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:17, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

Philippians 3:10, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"

2 Timothy 2:12, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:"

Paul experience the "fellowship of His sufferings" ( Philippians 3:10).

Philippians 3:10, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"

"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" - Comments - The New Testament records a number of distinctions between God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. In Matthew 20:23 Jesus tells us that the Father has prepared positions of leadership and enthronement beyond the office and ministry of Jesus. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus tells us that only God the Father knows the day and hour of the Second Coming of Jesus; for neither the angels nor Jesus Himself know the time of this event.


Verses 24-28

The Inquiry of the Disciples - In Matthew 20:24-28 Jesus explains to His disciples about becoming great in the Kingdom of Heaven. The mother of James and John , two close apostles, has just asked Him if they could sit at his right and left hand when He becomes king over Jerusalem and the Jewish people. The other ten disciples were angry about this request. However, Jesus answers them by explaining how any of the twelve can achieve this special recognition before God the Father. In other words, the request of the mother of James and John was not limited, but available for all who are willing to pay the price to become first in the Kingdom of Heaven.

It becomes clear that the disciples were expecting Jesus to overthrow the Roman oppression off of their people and set up an earthly kingdom. His earthly ministry was at its highest popularity as they were approaching Jerusalem. His triumphant entry into Jerusalem would only reinforce their view of an earthly kingdom. Although Jesus has just revealed to them about His impending death and suffering, it was necessary to teach them about servanthood.

Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

Matthew 20:24Comments - The ten disciples were angry about the request of the mother of James and John because they did not believe such a request was proper.

Illustration- When we pray and ask God to use us in the Kingdom of Heaven, it is not uncommon for others to become jealous and oppose our promotions and efforts to serve. For example, when my wife and I were chosen out of our congregation to go into the mission field, it was not without opposition. Everyone should be prepared for such opposition when serving the Lord. I asked the Lord why he chose me out of such a large congregation to be the one to represent our church overseas. The Lord spoke to me and said, "Because you were available." No one knew about the vow I had made to the Lord that if He would give me a godly wife, I would "build Him the largest house in the world." No one knew about the Scriptures He had given me to stand on and the efforts I had made to qualify in His sight.

Matthew 20:27Comments - The Greek adjective πρῶτος (first) has been used by Matthew in the immediate passages to teach the same theme of the characteristics of those who will inherit eternal life ( Matthew 19:30; Matthew 20:8; Matthew 20:10; Matthew 20:16; Matthew 20:27). In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Jesus taught that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Jesus now develops this theme to include servanthood among those who desire to be first as recipients of God's grace.

Matthew 20:26-27Comments - Servanthood as a Type of Sowing and Reaping - In Matthew 20:26-27 Jesus states a divine principle in the Kingdom of Heaven. He states this principle in Matthew 20:26, then repeats this same principle in Matthew 20:27, using repetition as a teaching device. The two disciples James and John have just asked to be exalted in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is teaching them that they must sow servanthood in order to reap exaltation. In other words, Jesus is giving all of His disciples the principle by which anyone in the Kingdom can reach positions of exaltation and leadership. In other words, all twelve disciples have the opportunity to be exalted in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28Comments - Jesus sets the example for His disciples throughout the narrative sections. He continually demonstrates the work of the Kingdom of Heaven; then He explains these divine principles to His disciples.

Paul will express his passion to achieve this goal in his epistle to the Philippians when he says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;" ( Philippians 3:10)


Verses 29-34

Healing of Two Blind following Jesus ( Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43) - Matthew 20:29-34 records the account of Jesus healing of two blind men along His journey to Jerusalem. Just as the children come and receive favor from Jesus based upon nothing they have to offer but themselves, so do the two blind men come to Jesus with nothing to offer in their request for healing but a dependence upon God's grace. In response to being healed, they offer themselves in sincere devotion by following Jesus.

In contrast to the utter dependency of the two blind men upon God's favor, the previous passage records how the mother of James and John made a request to Jesus based upon her belief that they had earned a reward and deserved favor from God. While the two blind men became recipient of God's grace, the mother heard Jesus deny her request when He explained that only the Father determines how to bestow His grace when He disperses eternal rewards.

Both Matthew 19:13-15; Matthew 20:29-34 have opponents rebuking either the children or the two blind men for approaching Jesus to receive from Him based upon God's grace rather than works. The disciples rebuked the children, and the multitudes rebuked the two blind men because they did not believe the blind qualified as recipients of God's grace. However, the conditions for receiving an answered prayer was their faith in God, and nothing else, as Jesus is able to say, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Thus, these two blind men qualified before Jesus because they believed in Him, and they petitioned Him; and He answered their prayers.

Comparison of Parallel Passages in the Gospels- The parallel accounts found in Mark and Luke only mention one blind man whom Mark identified by the name of Bartimaeus.

The Healing of Two Blind Men- It takes no faith to say that God is able to heal. We all know that God is able to do anything. The fallen angels know that God is able; for they know His power. However, it takes faith to say, "He will." God reveals His omnipotent power when He says that He is able; but He reveals His love when He says, "I will." The two blind men believed in God's power, knowing that Jesus was able; but they did not know His love until Jesus said, "I will."

Matthew 20:29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

Matthew 20:29Comments - The opening participial phrase in Matthew 20:29 denotes a change in time and place in Jesus' public ministry, a grammatical structure used often by Matthew to develop movement in the narrative plot. Jesus has been moving towards Jerusalem ( Matthew 20:17), and now He departs Jericho as He approaches Jerusalem from the East ( Matthew 20:29).

Matthew 20:30 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.

Matthew 20:30Comments - The good news of Jesus Christ healing the sick and causing the blind to see had echoed throughout the land of Palestine. These two blind men had probably heard that Jesus was finally passing this way after months and perhaps years of anticipating His presence near their home. They may have travelled miles to get near Him. As they sat by the side of the road that day, they waited, perhaps hours, anxious for His arrival. As the noise of the people increased, they listened intently for any indication that Jesus was near. The minute they heard that Jesus was passing by them, they both jumped up as quickly as possible and began to shout.

Matthew 20:31 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.

Matthew 20:31Comments- No one was able to stop these two blind men from shouting as loud as they could shout. They had invested too much time and effort for this moment. As they hear each other shouting, they encouraged themselves to shout even louder. Now was not the time to be quiet, but to make as much noise as possible.

Just as James and John faced the opposition of the other ten disciples when they petitioned Jesus for exaltation in the Kingdom of Heaven ( Matthew 20:24), so do these two blind men face the opposition of the multitudes when making their requests to Jesus. The multitudes did not believe that these two blind men were qualified to ask and receive from God. We must understand that prayers can be hindered by opposition, but we must press in and be determined to receive from God. Such determination is an indication of our faith in Him.

Matthew 20:32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?

Matthew 20:32Comments - In Matthew 20:21; Matthew 20:32 Jesus hears the cries of the two blind men. In other words, He heard their faith. Faith in God is the element that moves God to respond to prayer. Jesus stops and asks the two blind men addressing Him to make their request. Before He asked, He knew their needs. Jesus wanted them to make a confession of faith through their petition. Jesus then met them at their point of faith by restoring their sight.

While the mother's request was more involved and would take years and even a lifetime to be answered, the two blind men immediately found God's grace and healing because it was freely provided in the atonement of Christ. While the mother based her request upon the good works of her two sons James and John as Jesus' close inner circle of disciples, the two blind men had nothing to offer Jesus except their devotion to follow Him after being healed.

Matthew 20:33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.

Matthew 20:33Comments - Jesus needed these two men to confess their requests before Him so that He could meet them at their point of faith. They believed that Jesus could heal their blindness, so they made this request known to Him.

Matthew 20:34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

Matthew 20:34Comments - Jesus touched those who needed healing as a means of imparting the power of the Holy Spirit to heal. Jesus appeared to Kenneth Hagin and gave him a special healing anointing by touching the palms of his hands with Jesus' finger. Kenneth Hagin says that when he laid hands upon someone, he could feel the anointing flow through him and into the individual if the person believed. If the person was doubting, then the anointing would not flow. 512] These two blind men had a measure of faith to believe that when Jesus touched them, they would be healed.

512] Kenneth Hagin, A Commonsense Guide to Fasting (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1981, 1994), 21-2; Kenneth Hagin, I Believe In Visions (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1984, 1986), 53-4, 57.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Matthew 20:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/matthew-20.html. 2013.

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