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Chapter 20

The story about the land-owners workers 20:1-16


v1 Where God rules, it is like this. A man who owned land went out early one morning. He employed men to work for him. v2 He decided to give them the usual pay for a days work. Then he sent them to work among his *grape bushes. v3 About nine oclock in the morning, he went out again. He saw other men who were standing in the market. They were doing nothing. v4 You also go and work among my *grape bushes, he said to them. I will pay you whatever is right. v5 So they went. He went out again about noon and at three oclock in the afternoon and he did the same thing. v6 Finally at about five oclock he went out again. He found still other men who were standing there. So he spoke to them. Why have you been standing here all day and have been doing nothing? he asked. v7 Because nobody has employed us, they answered. You also go and work among my *grape bushes, he said to them. v8 The evening came. Then the owner spoke to the man who was responsible for his workers. Call the workers, he said. Pay them their wages. Begin with the last ones that I hired. Then go on to the first ones that I hired. v9 So first he paid the workers whom the owner had hired at about five oclock. Each man received a days wage. v10 Then those whom the owner had hired first came for their wages. They expected to receive more. But each one of them received the same amount. v11 When they received it, they began to complain to the owner. v12 You employed these men last. They worked only one hour, they said. You have paid them the same as you paid us. But we have done most of the work and we have been in the hot sun all day! v13 Then the owner answered one of them. Friend, I am not being unfair to you, he said. You agreed to work for the usual days wage. v14 Take your pay and go. I wanted to give the last man the same wage as I gave you. v15 I have the right to do what I like with my own money. You should not be jealous because I am generous. v16 Then Jesus added, So the last people will be first, and the first people will be last. This story is only in Matthews *gospel. It describes a situation that could have happened in Jesus time. Jesus purpose here was not to teach about how people should receive wages. He was teaching about where God rules. So this story was about the way that God deals with people. Verses 1-7 When the owner harvested his fruit, called grapes, he needed many work ers. Men who had no work would wait in the market place. They waited for someone to employ them. This owner hired the first workers early in the morning. He decided what he would pay them. Then he hired more workers later. He promised to pay the second group what was right. Finally, he hired the men who had been waiting for work all day. He just told them to go and work for him. Verses 8-10 Workers had to receive their wages each evening (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). The owner spoke to his manager and told him to pay everyone the same wage. He must begin with the men who started work last. And finally, he paid the men who started work first.

Verses 11-15 Those first workers thought that the owner had not been fair to them. So they complained. The owner replied to the man who was probably complaining the loudest. He said that he had kept the promise that he made to them. He had a right to use his money as he chose. They were jealous because he was generous. The men who came last needed the money as much as the other men. Verse 16 This verse shows that this story is partly an answer to Peters question in verse 27 of chapter 19. Jesus repeats the words that he used there in Matthew 19:30: Many people who are last now will be first. And the people who are first now will be last. Peters question about what they should get was not a good question. God invites people to live where he rules. He invites people because he is generous. They can work for God there. God is always generous when he deals with people. Nobody deserves Gods gifts. Nobody can earn a reward where God rules. God welcomes everyone, whether they come early or late to where he rules.

Jesus speaks the third time about his death and afterwards 20:17-19
v17 As Jesus was going up towards Jerusalem, he took the 12 *disciples aside. Then he spoke to them in private. v18 We are going up to Jerusalem, he said. Someone will hand over the Son of Man to the chief *priests and to the men who teach the *Law. They will order that he must die. v19 They will hand him over to the foreigners. Those foreigners will laugh at him. They will beat him with a whip. Then they will fix him to a wooden *cross to die. But on the third day after that, he will become alive again! Verses 17-18 Jesus knew that he would suffer and die. This was the third occasion on which he warned his *disciples about this. Matthew emphasises that they were going up into the hills towards Jerusalem. This was their capital city, and the *Jewish place to *worship. There the *Jewish leaders would demand that Jesus should die. Verse 19 Jesus gives more details about what will happen there. He knew that he would suffer severe mental and *physical pain. But he also knew that he would become alive again on the third day.

The request about James and John 20:20-28


v20 Then Zebedees wife came to Jesus with her sons. She kneeled down in front of him and asked him to do something kind for her. v21 What do you want? Jesus asked her. Promise me that one of my two sons will sit at your right hand side when you become king, she replied. Promise that the other son will sit at your left hand side. v22 You do not know what you are asking for, Jesus said to them. Can you suffer in the same way that I am going to suffer? he said to her sons. We can, they replied. v23 You will certainly suffer like I am going to suffer, Jesus told them. But I cannot say who will sit at my right side or at my left side in the future. These places belong to the people for whom my Father has prepared them. v24 When the other ten *disciples heard about this, they became angry with the two brothers. v25 So Jesus called them all together. You know about the men who rule the foreign nations, he said. They have complete power over their people. Their important of ficials proudly order people to obey. v26 Do not be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be great among you must serve all the rest. v27 And anyone who wants to be first and important must be your slave. v28 Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to this earth so that other people would serve him. He came to give his life and to die. That was the price to make people free.

Verses 20-21 Marks *gospel says that James and John made the request (Mark 10:35-45). Their mother had the same ambition as her sons, but they were responsible. Jesus spoke directly to them when he replied. James and John were probably Jesus cousins. Their mother was Salome, who was Marys sister. And Mary was Jesus mother. So they may have felt that this close relationship ought to give them a special place. They believed that Jesus would become king. And Jesus had chosen them, together with Peter, to be witnesses when he changed his appearance (Matthew 17:1-2). They also saw Jesus make Jairus daughter become alive again. But Jesus said that he would suffer. And they failed to understand why the king should suffer. Verses 22-23 Jesus asked if they could share what he was going to suffer. They said that they could. But they probably did not understand what that really meant. James died early in the history of the *church because he believed Jesus. King Herod Agrippa ordered his men to kill James (Acts 12:1-2). John lived until he was very old. But he probably had a difficult life in prison, so he may have suffered a lot too. Verses 24-27 The other *disciples did not like it that James and John were asking for special places. But they had the same ambition. Luke says that even at the Last Supper they were arguing among themselves. They argued about who was the greatest and most important among them (Luke 22:24). Jesus told them that in foreign nations important people tell their servants what to do. They expect their servants to obey their orders. But where God rules, it is different. People who want to be great must serve other people. They must even be prepared to act as a slave. Verse 28 Jesus then spoke about why he came into the world. He is our example, because he came to serve. He would give his life to make people free from their *sin. Then they could enter where God rules. It was Jesus who would give his life for many people (Isaiah 53:11). Jesus made a way back to God for people. But to do this he had to live in this world. Then he had to die in a terrible way.

The blind men at Jericho town 20:29-34


v29 Jesus and his *disciples were leaving Jericho now and a large crowd was following him. v30 Two blind men were sitting by the side of the road. And they heard that Jesus was going by. So they shouted out to him. *Lord, Davids Son, pity us! they shouted. v31 The crowd told them to stop shouting. They wanted them to be quiet. But the two men shouted even louder. *Lord, Davids Son, pity us! v32 Then Jesus stopped and called out to them. What do you want me to do for you? he asked. v33 *Lord, they answered, we want to be able to see. v34 Jesus really pitied them, so he touched their eyes. Immediately they could see and they followed him. Verses 30-31 Mark describes how Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:42-52). Matthew says that there were two blind men. He did not know or he did not record their names. The blind men called Jesus Davids Son, which was a name for the *Messiah. The crowd tried to stop the blind men from shouting. They were a nuisance because they were interrupting peoples journey to Jerusalem. And they were using the name Davids Son, which might have been dangerous. It was just before the time for the special *Jewish ceremony called Passover. At that time the *Jews remembered that God had rescued their people from Egypt long ago. It was not wise to shout the name of the *Messiah. It might seem that people were demanding their freedom from their *Roman rulers. But the blind men believed that Jesus could help them. So they continued to shout for his attention.

Verses 32-34 Jesus would have noticed that they were blind. But he wanted them to say what they needed. God knows what we need. But he wants us to pray to him. He wants us to show that we trust him. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record this event, but only Matthew writes that Jesus touched their eyes. This is the last *miracle that the *gospels record. After this, Jesus went on his final journey to Jerusalem. This incident is a contrast to the story about James and John. They had been like blind men because they did not realise the truth about Jesus. To be a *disciple meant that they would suffer. They were blind in a different way from the *physical way that the two men suffered. There is a link with the next story about Jesus as he entered into Jerusalem. The crowd there called Jesus Davids Son, exactly as the blind men had done.