Wednesday, December 06, 2006

MATTHEW 20

Key Verse: 20:26-28
Personal Application: Stooping to serve others is the secret to greatness in the Kingdom.

Outline: Matthew gives a third and final example of futile paths religious people take. Each person’s relationship with God is based on His grace, not how hard we work. It is not self-effort, but responsiveness to God’s call that counts (20:1-16). Matthew is making a link back to 18:1-5. Jesus predicts his death for the third of four times (20:17-29), but the disciples are too busy jockeying for position in the new Kingdom to hear Him. Even his own aunt is trying to use family influence to leverage a place for her sons (20:20-23) even though Jesus has promised them all a throne (19:28-30).

Jesus uses the incident to drive home an important truth in the Kingdom. Greatness in His Kingdom is measured in servanthood, not in power and position (20:24-28). In demonstration of that servanthood, Jesus, with the concerns over His coming crucifixion, stops to serve and minister to two blind men whom everyone else ignores. Again, the blind see better than anyone else in calling Jesus by a Messianic title, Son of David. Matthew shows us two disciples who cannot see past their egos and two blind men who recognize His Person and respond to Him as He passes by.

Parable of Workers in the Vineyard (20:1-16)
The story of the workers teaches that reward in His Kingdom is not based on how much we do, but on how faithfully we respond to His will (see 18:1-5). When He does reward us, our reward is not so much earned as a gift of generosity and grace.

Denarius = day wage in NT. Workers stand in square to wait for someone to hire them as wetbacks. Day divided into segments (6am-9am), (9am to 12n), (12n – 3pm), (3pm to 6pm). Harvest is so great that the last crew went to work at 5pm.

Jesus Predicts His Death Again (20:17-19)
This is the third of four times, but no one seems to notice that he says it. They're too busy jockeying for position in His new Kingdom.

Sitting with the King (20:20-28)
Serving: The word ransom is used for redeeming a slave from the auction block. In NT, also a theological concept referring to Israel’s release from slavery in Egypt. Also an allusion to Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah 53.

Matthew’s writing genius again surfaces with this vignette. It refers back to 19:28-30. Jesus has already granted the Twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Now the mother wants her sons to have right and left hand seats.

Who is this woman? It is Salome, sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. JAMES & JOHN were sons of Zebedee & Salome (sister of Virgin Mary) B Brothers & real first cousins of Jesus. Jesus’ Aunt is pressuring Him to include his cousins in His Administration on a higher level than the other disciples.

Two Blind Men See (20:29-34)
Jesus sets aside His own self and concerns and values these two men who can see better than anyone else in the chapter. Two disciples are blinded by their ambition. The two blind men see His Deity (“Lord”) and Messianic character (“Son of David”).

Going Up to Jerusalem: Located in the top of the Judean Hills, Jerusalem, at 2500 feet above sea level is higher than most places in Israel while Jericho, fifteen miles away, is 900 feet below sea level. But from wherever in the world to Jerusalem, you are going up spiritually.

Was it one blind man or two? Were they approaching Jericho or leaving?
Is there a mistake here in the Bible? In Mark 10:46 and Luke 18:35, the parallel passages introduce some apparent discrepancies. Mark and Luke mention only one blind man, whom Mark calls “Bartimeus.” Matthew says they were leaving Jericho while Luke says they were approaching.

Apparently there were two blind men, and one, Bartimeus, was more prominent than the other. Matthew is concerned with mentioning everyone involved her, just as he mentioned two demoniacs in 8:28. As for leaving for entering Jericho, there were two towns. Jesus may have been leaving ancient Jericho with archaeological remains of foundations going back to 7000 BC or the more recently developed Roman spa several kilometers closer to Jerusalem.

If the four gospel accounts were in fact exactly alike in every detail, we should be suspicious that something is going on that is not good. Since so many details do dovetail, it gives us confidence in the text as told by different observers.

The Jericho spa was the winter residence for Herod’s court, down near the Jordan, warm with rose gardens, palm groves, etc. Mark Antony gave it to Cleopatra as a token of a gem of the East, with a theatre, amphitheatre, rich, great, with foreign visitors.