Matthew 20 (NRSV)
The Labourers in the Vineyard
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.
Like many of Jesus’ parables, this story is about an employer and those who work for him. Jesus will use this story to answer a question from Matthew 19:27 — See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?
3“When he went out about nine o”clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
5“When he went out again about noon and about three o”clock, he did the same. 6And about five o”clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’
Evidently the landowner has plenty of work. He seems surprised to find workers standing idle — he would have hired them earlier, it seems, had they been there.
8“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’
9“When those hired about five o”clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’
13“But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
We who are working in God’s vineyard here on earth ought not be jealous of the gifts or rewards belonging to others. The Lord will do as he sees fit and we can only say “Thank you.”
“My last word to God’s children is this: what does it matter, after all, whether we are first or whether we are last? Do not let us dwell too much upon it, for we all share the honor given to each. When we are converted, we become members of Christ’s living body; and as we grow in grace, and get the true spirit that permeates that body, we shall say, when any member of it is honored, ‘This is honor for us’ . . . If any brother shall be greatly honored of God, I feel honored in his honor. If God shall bless your brother, and make him ten times more useful than you are, then you see that he is blessing you — not only blessing him, but you. If my hand has something in it, my foot does not say, ‘Oh, I have not got it!’ No, for if my hand has it, my foot has it; it belongs to the whole of my body.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
HERE is “Make Me A Servant” — sung here by the Maranatha Singers, but I remember more clearly my mother singing it around the house.
A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
17While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; 19then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
The Request of the Mother of James and John
20Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. 21And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jewish mother humor:
A Jewish mother put her two young sons in a double stroller and went to the park. There an older woman approached her and admired the two boys. “How old are they?” she asked.
“Well,” the Jewish mother replied, “the lawyer is three and the doctor is one.”
(told to me by a real Jewish mother)
22But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
24When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers.
Here is jealousy at work. Jesus has warned us about this.
25But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible?
Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.
Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” We ask, “Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your Kingdom?”
–from Reflections, Christianity Today, February 8, 1999
Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
29As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” 32Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.
1 John 1:1-4 (The Message)
From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.
We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.