Mark chapter 20

Mark chapter 20 DEFAULT

Matthew 20

Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 20

Matthew 20 is the twentieth chapter in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Jesus continues his final journey through Perea and Jericho, heading towards Jerusalem, which he enters in the following chapter.

Text[edit]

The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 34 verses.

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter include:

Structure[edit]

Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus, by Johann Heinrich Stöver, 1861. Bartimaeus is not named in Matthew's narrative.

The New King James Version organises this chapter as follows:

Continuity with Matthew 19[edit]

The parable of the workers in the vineyard illustrates the aphorism in Matthew 19:30: Many who are first will be last, and the last first.[1] Anglican theologian E. H. Plumptre argues that "the division of the chapter is here singularly unfortunate, as separating the parable both from the events which gave occasion to it and from the teaching which it illustrates. It is not too much to say that we can scarcely understand it at all unless we connect it with the history of the young ruler who had great possessions, and the claims which the disciples had made for themselves when they contrasted their readiness with his reluctance".[2]LutheranPietistJohann Bengel argues, likewise, that a link is to be made with Peter's enquiry in Matthew 19:27: "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" [3]

The appointment of Jesus' twelve disciples to "sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" in "the regeneration" (Matthew 19:20–28) may also be contrasted with the request of the mother of Zebedee's children, possibly Salome, that the seats of Jesus' right and left in the kingdom of heaven to be allocated to James and John (Matthew 20:20–21).

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard[edit]

Main article: Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

This parable is only related by Matthew.[4] Matthew uses the phrase "the kingdom of heaven is like ..." on 11 occasions.[5]

Verse 2[edit]

Now when he [the landowner] had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.[6]

Bengel notes that the landowner deals with the first group of labourers by legal contract, promising to pay an agreed sum, and with the others more by mere liberality".[3]

Verse 17[edit]

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road, and said to them,[7]

This verse continues the journey commenced in Matthew 19:1.[4] There are three typical readings of this verse:

Et ascendens Jesus Jerosolymam, assumpsit duodecim discipulos secreto, et ait illis:[9]

Verse 20[edit]

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.[10]

The mother of Zebedee's sons, James and John, is known to have been Salome, "as we learn by comparing Matthew 27:56 with Mark 15:40".[11] Her request is described as "ambitious".[12]

Departure from Jericho[edit]

Matthew's narrative portrays the healing of two blind men taking place as Jesus, his disciples and a great multitude leave Jericho, although their passage back over the River Jordan and their arrival in Jericho are not described. The Ethiopic version, uniquely, reads here "as they went out from Jerusalem".[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^Expositor's Greek Testament on Matthew 20, accessed 5 February 2017
  2. ^Plumptre, E. H., in Ellicott's Commentary for Modern Readers on Matthew 20, accessed 5 February 2017
  3. ^ abBengel, J. A., Gnomon of the New Testament on Matthew 20, accessed 28 September 2019
  4. ^ abMeyer, H. A. W., Meyer's NT Commentary: Matthew 20, accessed 29 September 2019
  5. ^BibleGateway.comKeyword Search, accessed 11 March 2021
  6. ^Matthew 20:2: NKJV
  7. ^Matthew 20:17 NKJV
  8. ^Various readings of Matthew 20:17 at BibleGateway.com
  9. ^Matthew 20:17: Vulgate
  10. ^Matthew 20:20 NKJV
  11. ^Carr, A., Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Matthew 20, accessed 30 September 2019
  12. ^"James (New Testament)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). 1911.
  13. ^Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible on Matthew 20, accessed 5 February 2017

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_20
Matthew 20
1
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.
2
He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3
"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.
4
He told them, `You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'
5
So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.
6
About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, `Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'
7
"`Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them, `You also go and work in my vineyard.'
8
"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, `Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'
9
"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius.
10
So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.
11
When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.
12
`These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, `and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
13
"But he answered one of them, `Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?
14
Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.
15
Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
16
"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
17
Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them,
18
"We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death
19
and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"
20
Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
21
"What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom."
22
"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered.
23
Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father."
24
When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.
25
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.
26
Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
27
and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--
28
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
29
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him.
30
Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
31
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
32
Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
33
"Lord," they answered, "we want our sight."
34
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.


Sours: http://web.mit.edu/jywang/www/cef/Bible/NIV/NIV_Bible/MATT+20.html
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EXCERPTS FROM THE MINISTRY

The Gospel of Mark was written in a progressive way. In Mark we have a record that is according to the sequence of events that took place in the life of the Lord Jesus. We believe that it was according to God’s sovereignty that everything that happened in the Lord’s life took place in a particular order and in a progressive way.

PHARISEES AND SCRIBES
QUESTIONING THE LORD

In 6:45-52 we have a record of the Lord’s walking on the sea. Then in 6:53-56 we have an account of the Lord’s healing everywhere. The situation at that time was wonderful. The Lord and His disciples had crossed over the stormy sea, and people everywhere were enjoying His healing.

Then, all of a sudden, certain religious “spies,” certain Pharisees and scribes, “gathered together to Him when they had come from Jerusalem” (7:1). These learned ones, leaders in the Jewish religion, came to the Lord purposely to spy Him out. Jerusalem was far to the south, and the Lord Jesus was in the north, in Galilee. Nevertheless, the Pharisees and scribes came all this way in order to observe what the Lord Jesus was doing.

Mark 7:2 says that the Pharisees and scribes who came to spy on the Lord Jesus saw “some of His disciples eating bread with unclean hands, that is, unwashed.” Verses 3 and 4 explain that the Pharisees, holding the tradition of the elders, do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands. When they come from the market places, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves.

According to verse 5, the Pharisees and scribes questioned the Lord Jesus: “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unclean hands?” The word “elders” here, as in verse 3, refers to the ancients, to people of previous generations. The Pharisees and scribes thought that they had ground to criticize the Lord, because His disciples were practicing something that was contrary to the tradition the Jews had received from their forefathers.

MAN’S INWARD CONDITION

As we read this Gospel, it may seem that what is recorded in 6:45—7:23 is merely a story. In this portion we are told how the Lord Jesus passed through the stormy sea, how He healed many people, and how He was questioned by the Pharisees and scribes. However, if we look to the Lord for His enlightenment concerning this section of Mark, we shall realize that, by the time of chapter seven, there was the need for the Lord to deal with man’s inward condition. The things that took place before chapter seven are related to man’s outward situation, not to his inward condition. The gospel, however, is for our entire being. The problem of man’s inward condition is much more serious than that of his outward situation. Actually, our inward condition is the root of all problems.

In the first six chapters of the Gospel of Mark many things are covered. But thus far nothing has touched the inward condition of fallen mankind. Now in chapter seven the questioning of the Lord by the Pharisees and scribes gave Him the opportunity to speak concerning man’s inward situation. The intention of the Pharisees and scribes was to condemn the Slave-Savior. But they were used by God in His sovereignty. Without them, the Lord may not have had the opportunity to talk about man’s inward condition.

The Pharisees and scribes certainly did not have any intention to touch the inward situation of man. They were concerned with outward formality, with outward washing and cleansing. They were not interested in anything of the inward condition of man. Nevertheless, they gave the Lord an excellent opportunity and even opened the way for Him to unveil man’s inward condition. The Lord Jesus exposed man’s inward situation not only to the Pharisees and scribes, but also to the crowd and especially to His disciples (v. 17).

In 7:1-23 we have three groups of people: the entire crowd, including the Pharisees and scribes; a portion of the crowd (v. 14), and the Lord’s disciples, His intimate followers. Verse 17 says, “And when He entered into a house from the crowd, His disciples questioned Him.” Then the Lord unveiled to them in a full way man’s inward condition. Eventually it was the Lord’s intimate followers who received the benefit. They came to see clearly not only man’s outward situation, but also man’s inward condition.

As a divine-human Person, the Lord Jesus heals man’s situation. This healing takes care not only of our outward sickness, but especially of our inward sickness. Concerning this, in chapter seven of the Gospel of Mark we have an important step in the Slave-Savior’s gospel service. As we have seen, before chapter seven the Lord’s gospel service was concerned with man’s outward situation. But the Pharisees and scribes, as opposers, provided the Lord an excellent opportunity to touch the inward condition of fallen man.

In chapter six we see opposition and rejection. This chapter records the martyrdom of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Slave-Savior, a martyrdom that was motivated by the hatred of Herodias for John. At the end of this chapter, the Lord crossed the sea and then came into a country where the people received His healing. The Lord’s disciples must have been happy and excited over what was happening. Wherever the Lord went, He was welcomed and people were healed. If we had been among the followers of the Slave-Savior at that time, we certainly would have been happy about the situation.

We may say that the Pharisees and scribes in chapter seven were professional opposers. Probably before they came down from Jerusalem to the place where the Lord Jesus was, they were trained to spy on Him in order to have some ground to arrest Him and put Him to death. The Pharisees and scribes may have said to one another, “This one is a devil, and we must get rid of him. We must find something to convince the Roman government to put this man to death.” These trained, professional spies thought they had ground to accuse the Lord Jesus in the matter of eating with unwashed hands. Actually, they simply opened up the way for Him to speak concerning the condition of man’s heart.

We may compare the Lord Jesus in chapter seven to a surgeon operating on a patient. We may also say that the professional opposers prepared the “surgery room” for the Lord’s “operation.” Then He opened up man’s heart and exposed its inward condition.

(Life-Study of Mark, Chapter 20, Section 1)


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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.

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

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.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

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.

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.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

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.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

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?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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



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Sours: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Matthew-Chapter-20/

Chapter 20 mark

Matthew 20

King James Version

20 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.

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

And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

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?

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.

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.

And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

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.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

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?

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

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.

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedees 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Sours: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2020&version=KJV
LUMO-GOSPEL OF MARK CHAPTER 16:1-20

Chapter 20. The final crisis

Please read Mark 13

Not long ago I had the exciting experience of a trip to Wembley Stadium for the Championship football play-off final. It was a great day out, watching Bristol City playing for the privilege of entering the Premier League. Even though we lost, it was a good day, because for the first time I saw the new Wembley. It’s truly an amazing venue. You behold it for the first time as you emerge from the Underground station. You reach the top of the steps and look out; and you simply stop and stare. In fact, so many people stop and stare at that point that the police are stationed there specially to keep you moving! Already you can see the famous arch towering over the skyline and the great, multi-coloured crowds streaming up Wembley Way and up the ramps beyond. And now you follow them, processing up to the iconic statue of Bobby Moore and in through the doors in the glass curtain walls. Up you climb, up to the very top, until at last you emerge inside the gigantic, unbroken oval of the stadium itself, rapidly filling up with the cheering multitudes, 90,000 strong. Wembley is a stunning building – and so it should be, given what it cost! But if someone told me that day that shortly, the entire edifice would be totally demolished, violently razed to the ground so that not a trace remained, I would be shocked. I’d be appalled. I would feel that some desperate crisis must be in store to make that happen, that London itself must be in for some devastating fate.

If you can imagine that, then perhaps you can grasp, just a little, how Jesus’ friends feel at the start of Mark 13. It is not a state-of-the-art football stadium they are worried about, but a building far more impressive and whose meaning is a thousand times greater. Along with Jesus, they are just leaving the Temple in Jerusalem, the beating heart of the Jewish religion. To them the Temple is like Wembley Stadium, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey all rolled into one, and more besides. This place is the heart of their nation. Now Jesus calmly tells his horrified disciples that all this is to be obliterated, razed to the ground. In what follows, Jesus explains to his people what the years ahead will be like. What lies in store for the world is not just a single disaster, but years of crisis extending all the way through to the day when he returns to this earth. That means this is a message for us as well. For Christians, every time is a time of crisis. The question Jesus answers for us here is how we are to live through the crisis. The message of Mark 13 is serious and downbeat, reminding us forcibly that following Jesus is not a game or a hobby, but a matter of life and death.

Let’s see how this chapter fits in to Mark’s gospel. Chapter 12 ended with a warning against the hypocrisy of the religious leadership. Overall, chapters 11 and 12 spell out the judgement of the King on the old regime – the Temple worship and all that it stands for. That’s why chapter 13 fits in here so well. Jesus now moves beyond declaring judgement on the Temple and the old order: here we find him explaining exactly how that judgement will fall. This chapter forms a bridge between Jesus’ public ministry, which has just concluded, and his passion and death, which bring in the new age. But we also have to notice how different this chapter is from the rest of Mark. The rest of this gospel is basically a very simple story. It’s not difficult to understand what is going on. This chapter is different! At times it seems like a little bit of Revelation dropped into the middle of a gospel – in fact it is often known as the ‘Little Apocalypse’. Parts of it have aroused a good deal of controversy: it’s not entirely straightforward!

Jesus and the Twelve are leaving the Temple and as they look around, they are struck once more by the magnificence of the buildings (v.1). We know from the eye-witness accounts that this is a stunning building. It dominates the whole city; it’s covered with marble and gold; it’s one of the wonders of the world. Herod the Great used the top Roman engineers; archaeologists today have confirmed the quality of Herodian building, wherever it is found. From Josephus we know that the standard size of the stones in the Temple walls was over ten metres long and five metres wide. The Jews may detest the Herods, but they are fiercely proud of their Temple. This is an impressive building – and now one of the disciples invites Jesus to join him in admiration. Jesus’ reply is hardly encouraging (v.2). Not surprisingly, the disciples are speechless. Not until they reach the slopes of the Mount of Olives, on their way out of town for the night, do four of them pluck up the courage to ask Jesus what on earth he is talking about. As they sit there, just across the Kidron Valley from the city, they have a breathtaking view of the Temple; and as the sun sets, glinting off its towers and pinnacles, they put their question (vv.3-4). In what follows, we need to understand that for the disciples, if the Temple is destroyed in this way, that can only mean that their whole nation is destroyed; and if their nation is destroyed, that must mean that God is coming in judgement, with what the prophets called ‘the day of the Lord’, the end of the age. Their question embraces not just a building, but the fate of the whole world. By now they have learned to take Jesus’ words very seriously. They no longer have any doubt that if Jesus says it, it will happen.

Jesus’ reply occupies the rest of the chapter. What he says is of shattering importance, not only for the disciples of those days, but for us, the disciples of today. Jesus is making it clear that this age is indeed going to end; and it will end with his return in glory; and he tells us how to be ready. But in this chapter he describes not one, but two great events that lie in their future. One is the destruction of the Temple, of Jerusalem; the other is his own return at the end of the age. To the disciples, those two events must surely coincide; but Jesus tells them they are not the same and must not be confused.

First, in vv.5-13, Jesus warns them what the future looks like for his followers. Then, in vv.14-23, he warns them specifically what will happen when Jerusalem is destroyed and how they must be prepared. Finally, in vv.24-37, he talks about his own glorious return.

Living through the crisis

In vv.5-23, Jesus is saying, From now until I return to the earth, it is going to be tough. It will be one extended time of crisis for you, my people. In the middle of that, there will be this great cataclysm when God comes in judgement on this city. But don’t jump the gun, because that’s not the end. We will look first at the judgement on Jerusalem: this is the subject of vv.14-23. This is not the end of the age, but it will be so terrible that for those involved, it will seem just like it.

We begin with the warning in v.14. Frankly, this sounds highly mysterious! In fact, Mark is being deliberately obscure, probably for security reasons – that’s why he adds this phrase ‘let the reader understand’. The ‘abomination that causes desolation’ is a reference to the prophet Daniel – specifically Dan 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11 – where God warns Daniel about an invader who will commit an outrage in the Temple, desecrating the sanctuary. That prophecy was fulfilled by a Hitler-like tyrant, an evil madman named Antiochus Epiphanes around 167 BC. He built an altar to the god Zeus in the Temple sanctuary and sacrificed pigs on it. Jesus’ point is that that desecration, that abomination, is going to happen again, only this time it will be even worse. When you see it happen, then get out of town! Run for the hills. Vv.15-23 expand on that warning – stop for nothing, don’t even go home to get your stuff. It will be worse still for pregnant or nursing mothers; it will be worse if it’s winter because the roads will be impassable: pray it doesn’t happen then! Terrible times are coming – so bad that if they continued for very long, death would come to everyone in the land – but even in those terrible times, Jesus says, God is still in control (v.20). He will make sure that he protects his people. The Church will survive the disaster. There will be people out to distract you, false leaders trying to lead you astray (v.22), but don’t be put off. Don’t lose sight of me and what I have told you. I have warned you: be ready, be on guard (v.23). This is the first great crisis.

History tells us that all this came to pass in the years 66 to 70 AD, within 40 years of Jesus speaking these words. The Jews rebelled against Rome. For a while it even looked as if they might prevail. But then the Romans hit back; and meanwhile the Jewish factions began to fight one another. The party called the Zealots took over the Temple and as the Roman legions approached the city, and the threat of destruction grew nearer and nearer, they permitted all sorts of outrages within the Temple precincts. They allowed criminals to wander into the Holy of Holies; there was murder in the Temple Courts; finally they enthroned a clown as High Priest. Perhaps that is the specific event that Jesus refers to in v.14. We can’t be sure. History also tells us that many people saw the disaster that was looming and fled the city while they had the chance. The Church in Jerusalem remembered Jesus’ warning and fled to the hills, to Pella across the Jordan; and they were kept safe. Meanwhile, the Romans arrived. They laid siege to Jerusalem; and in that siege the most appalling events took place. Hunger stalked the city. There’s an account of a mother who killed, roasted and ate her own child. The defenders fought among themselves. Finally, with the Temple in flames, the Romans broke in to the city. The priests continued the routine of sacrifice until the last possible moment when the sanctuary was destroyed. The remaining defenders were slaughtered; and then at the command of the new emperor Titus, the magnificent Temple was levelled to the ground, never to rise again. The generation that rejected the Lord Jesus was judged. The old regime of priesthood and sacrifice was gone for good, fulfilled in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus himself. Jesus says, I have told you everything ahead of time (v.23). His word can be trusted. We have the proof.

There would be this first great, dreadful crisis: Jesus warns them about it; and for us today, the fall of Jerusalem lies in the distant past. However, as we look now at vv.5-13, we see that Jesus describes the whole of this age, from his first coming to his second, as a time of great crisis. So how do we live through it?

First, we live through the crisis by keeping our focus (vv.5-8). The disciples have just asked Jesus, When is it going to happen, and what will it look like? But Jesus is not concerned, as so many people are today, with giving calendar dates or drawing up charts of the last days. Jesus is not interested in satisfying our curiosity. He is interested in preparing us to face the days we live in. The days ahead will be difficult; it will be easy for us to get distracted. There will be wars: if you are not in the middle of one you will certainly hear about them in other places. There will be conflicts between one nation and another; and famines, and earthquakes. It’s very painful, but it’s normal. The message is: there is no golden age just round the corner. At times in history – such as the opening of the twentieth century – people in the West, including many Christians, foolishly believed there would be. Today we ought to know better. It’s a false hope. Until Christ returns, one disaster, one difficulty will succeed another.

Jesus says, This will be a time of false religious hopes as well (v.6). People will appear making all kinds of claims to be able to save the world; they will claim to do what only I can do. The point of his words is not to give us information, but to help us to keep our focus. ‘Watch out that you are not deceived!’ With all the turmoil around you in the world, with all the claims of false religion, as powerful as it may seem – don’t take your eye off the ball. Don’t be distracted by anything from following Christ. In particular, says Jesus in vv.7-8, don’t imagine that the end of the world has arrived just because these disasters are happening. These are just the warnings of what lies ahead. Labour pains certainly hurt; and they tell you the birth is coming soon, but labour pains are not the birth. You must be faithful to the end.

Second, we live through the crisis by facing suffering (vv.9-13). If times are going to be hard for the people of the world in general, Jesus says, it will be even harder for you, my friends. The world will not love you because you follow me; and it will certainly not like the message you bring them about me. Jesus is saying, This is going to be normal life for Christians. Today, around the world, Christians are persecuted on a massive scale, not because they have done anything wrong but simply because they follow Christ. In every single Muslim majority country in the world today, the people of Jesus are persecuted – and in many other places too. Sometimes, v.12, that opposition comes from the closest and most painful quarter – from your own family, bitter and full of hatred just because of your allegiance to Christ. I have friends who know just what that means. Jesus says, Believer, disciple, the way to live through the crisis is not to keep your head down nor to stay where it’s safe, but to face suffering wherever you are called to go. If it comes to it and you are standing in court, says Jesus in v.11, don’t worry because I will be there with you. My Spirit will be with you, and he will give you the words to say, even if the sentence hanging over you is death. If we are disciples of Jesus, we need to count the cost. Discipleship, according to the Bible, is cross-shaped. Are we ready to face suffering for the Name?

Third, we live through the crisis by spreading the gospel (vv.9-11 again). When you are dragged in front of the authorities, Jesus says in v.9, it is not so you can persuade them to let you off, but as a witness to them, that there in the place of greatest danger you will still speak of Jesus Christ. V.11 paints the same picture. The words you need to speak are not to protect yourself, but to honour me. That’s the agenda: that’s always our agenda: to point men and women to the Saviour. Jesus has been speaking these words in part to prevent his people from obsessing about the end of the world and get us to concentrate on living faithfully while the world goes to rack and ruin. But here in v.10 he gives one clear and glorious sign of the end. What will bring about the end of the age? Melting ice caps? A giant meteor strike? Nuclear war? No: the end will come when God looks down and sees that his Church has finished the task he gave us – to carry the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth. It must happen! When every last people group has been reached, in some lost valley or in a hidden corner of some vast city, when the name of Jesus has been spoken under every sky, the angels will get moving and the Son of God will return to the earth in glory.

Fourth and last, we live through the crisis by trusting God’s purposes. V.10 shows us God’s great purpose for the Church, that we will preach his salvation to every corner of the world. We need to be confident that God knows what he is doing. When the work is hard, and we face setbacks; or things don’t turn out the way we planned and longed for and we haven’t a clue why, we need to trust God’s purposes. One day, we will see more than we do now. Whether we will ever understand fully, even when we stand in glory, I don’t know. God’s understanding will always be infinitely deeper than ours. What is certain is that the questions that trouble us now won’t trouble us then; that we will praise him for doing every last thing which he has planned to do; and that it’s best to learn to trust his purposes right now!

The closing note of this section in v.13 is blunt yet comforting. If you belong to Jesus Christ, then his purpose is to bring you home. Standing firm is the proof of true salvation: if you belong to him, this will happen, as Jesus assures the suffering church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:10). And there will be one generation of his people whose faithfulness will culminate in the privilege of seeing and recognising him as he comes in his glory.

Recognising the King

If you had been standing on the streets of Manhattan around 8.30 on Tuesday morning, 11th September 2001; if you had heard, seen, felt and smelled the events of that morning, as one by one the aircraft swept in to strike the towers of the World Trade Center, and the collapse that followed, you would have known in your heart that the world would never be the same again. Christ’s return, which is described here in vv.24-31, will be more – an event that will not merely change history, but wind it up for good. It will be visible and unmistakable; like 9/11 it will come as a profound shock; but it is most definitely on its way. While the fall of the Twin Towers could be seen directly from just a few square miles in New York City, God will see to it that the return of his Son, King Jesus, is visible from every corner of the earth. With delight or with horror, every man and woman alive on earth that day will recognise the King. In this passage Jesus teaches his followers about his own return.

First, Christ’s return will be catastrophic (vv.24-25). Throughout this chapter, remember, Jesus is speaking of these two great climactic events, the Temple’s doom and his own return. The preceding verses are very clearly about the fall of the Temple and Jerusalem; v.23 has rounded that off as Jesus tells his friends that they are now safely forewarned about what will happen then; and now v.24 begins a new section. ‘In those days’ is an expression the Old Testament often uses to describe the end times, the days of judgement. v.26 states explicitly this is about his own coming. In vv.24-25 we find described the cosmic signs which will immediately precede his return – a prediction which reads very strangely to us. The first point to make is that these verses are worded in Old Testament language. The prophets often spoke about the Day of Judgement, what they called ‘the Day of the Lord’, in terms like this. In particular there are two references in the prophet Isaiah which we should look at: Isaiah 13:9-10 and Isaiah 34:4. Note how strikingly similar these prophecies sound. The question often asked is this: Are we meant to take these pictures literally? Will there really be these terrifying signs in the sky? It’s a good question, and a difficult question, which we can’t ignore.

Some very respected commentators say that these prophecies are simply speaking of political upheavals. They are metaphorical descriptions of the downfall of great nations; so we shouldn’t expect to see any ‘signs in the sky’ at all. They point out that in Isaiah, these prophecies are applied to nations like Babylon which were overthrown thousands of years ago – and the sun certainly didn’t stop shining then, neither did the stars fall! That’s undoubtedly true, but in spite of that, there are good reasons for believing that Jesus does mean us to expect cosmic signs of his return. One reason is the close connection with v.26 where Jesus speaks of what will be seen. A second reason is that Jesus is probably drawing a contrast with what he’s just said in v.22 – that at the time of the great crisis in Jerusalem there will be false Messiahs performing false signs and miracles to deceive people. Now here in v.24, he is saying, When the true Messiah appears, that is when I return, there will be these genuine signs, written in the sky for all to see. That contrast doesn’t work if they are not visible signs. A third reason is that the immediate context of those Isaiah references does not limit the prophecy in question to Babylon, Edom or any other nation. Isaiah has something grander and more ultimate in mind as well. The Bible does teach us that the story of the universe is bound up with the story of mankind. When Adam and Eve fell, when they first sinned, the impact was not confined to the human race. The consequences of their sin rippled out throughout the world and on through the whole of creation: nothing was untouched. Romans 8:19-22 teaches us that the whole of creation is eagerly waiting for the freedom it will gain when the human race is saved and restored. In view of that, it is not surprising that when Christ returns to save his people and judge the world, there should be disturbances on a cosmic scale to accompany the event. The day will come when God ‘will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens’ (Hebrews 12:26). When Christ returns in glory, the impact will be so great that even the sun, moon and stars will be affected. We don’t know exactly how that will happen and we should not get hung up on this issue. We should remember that the Bible frequently uses the ‘language of appearance’: it is certainly not interested in astronomical precision. What matters is what people on earth will see on that day. They will see the light draining from the sky – whether it’s day or night when he comes. Darkness will fall. In that moment, they will all realise that something utterly catastrophic is beginning.

These verses are echoed in Rev 6. The disciple John is one of the group of four sitting there with Jesus under the trees on the Mount of Olives; sixty years or so later the same John is given this vision of what the last days will look like. He has heard it from Jesus: now he sees it played out (Revelation 6:12-14). Now read the next two verses. The Lamb is the Lord Jesus. When King Jesus returns, everyone will know it. Everyone will recognise him – but for many it will be too late.

Secondly, Christ’s return will be majestic (vv.26-27). We know that ‘Son of Man’ is one of Jesus’ favourite ways of describing himself. On one level it simply means ‘a human being’. But on another level it also means something far higher – especially when the Lord Jesus begins to speak of his own coming in glory, as he does here. That’s because he is again drawing on Old Testament language, this time from Daniel 7:13-14. He comes ‘with the clouds’; in the Bible that is always a picture that describes the glory and power of God appearing – what is called a theophany. But his Second Coming is not to be a private transaction between him and God the Father. It will be public and open – everyone will see it. When Jesus came to earth the first time, there was a dark, obscure village; and a dirty manger; and some scruffy shepherds. There was a baby who grew up to be a man, a man who walked the dusty streets and hillsides, was rejected, who suffered, who ultimately died a horrible death in apparent defeat. There was no glory then, no honour, no splendour. How different when he comes again in ‘great power and glory’! Just as surely as those planes could be seen in the skies over New York on that day of disaster, so the coming of the Son of Man will be visible to all. This is the triumph of the Son of Man, this is the vindication of the suffering Messiah; this is God saying: Behold your King!

In v.27, we see he sends out the angels and gathers in his people. In the Old Testament, that is what God says he will do (Deuteronomy 30:4). The New Testament doesn’t often say directly that Jesus is God, but it often shows us Jesus doing what only God can do; this is an example. When Christ returns, he will gather his people together around him. We will meet him; and we will celebrate – what a day! Notice what’s changed here. Up until now, the focal point for God’s people on earth has been the Temple, which Jesus is looking at as he speaks; but the days of the Temple are over. The gathering point for God’s people will be his Son, King Jesus. The ones who are gathered are the elect – God’s called and chosen people, all those who know him and love him. From wherever they are, at earth’s farthest bounds, because in Christ we are one people, whatever our race and background. Again this verse confronts us with a stark reality. Those gathered and saved are his own people; but those who don’t know the Lord Jesus will be gathered and judged. Christ’s return for them will truly be a day of disaster. On that day, they will recognise the King; but it will be too late.

Thirdly, Christ’s return will be certain (vv.28-31). This ‘lesson from the fig tree’ is a simple country saying. In ch 11 the fig-tree was used as a parable to represent the nation of Israel: that’s not the case here. You can get into all kinds of strange ideas if you try and read that meaning into this folk saying – and people have done that! The meaning here is perfectly simple. In the Middle East, most of the trees are evergreen; but the fig tree is not. In the winter, its branches are bare; and in fact they stay bare until late spring when the sap starts flowing, the twigs soften and the leaves appear. When the fig tree comes to life, you know that it’s almost summer. As Jesus speaks, in fact, it is just that time of year, just before Passover. He is sitting on the Mount of Olives, well-known for its fig-trees as well as its olives. Around them there are fig trees just bursting into green life again; Jesus says, when you see a fig tree like that, you know for sure that summer is just round the corner. So when you see the signs, you know that it’s near, right at the door as it were.

Again, there is a difficulty to resolve here. Is Jesus still talking about his Second Coming, or has he gone back to the fall of Jerusalem? The difficulty arises from v.30. The word for ‘generation’ nearly always means literally that – the people who are present at any one time in history. Either Jesus is now talking about the fall of Jerusalem – about forty years away – or else he means something different like ‘this race’ or ‘people like you’. This question is very difficult to answer for sure. We know that Jesus’ main aim in this discourse is to prepare his people for whatever is to come. This whole time, remember, is a time of crisis – right through to the Second Coming. Within that time, the fall of Jerusalem is one spectacularly terrible crisis. I think that when Jesus says this in v.30, he is referring mainly to that great crisis, which would happen within one generation. He is answering the disciples’ original question (v.4). But at the same time he is warning us that at every point, we must recognise the signs of the times – like the leaves coming out on the trees in spring – and understand what they are pointing to. There would very soon be signs that pointed to the Jewish War and the destruction of the Temple: they must act on those signs. Later on there would be signs pointing to Christ’s return; and we must act on those. In any case, the force of this passage for us is clear. All these things will happen: they are sure and inevitable (v.31). The message is that nothing in this world is permanent, nothing is for ever. Whether we are Christians or not, we must get hold of that vital truth. But Jesus is for ever. His words are for ever. They are true, reliable and certain.

Muslims, too, believe that Jesus the Messiah is coming back. They say he will come back, announce that Mohammed really was the final prophet, destroy all the crosses and live and die an ordinary death as a man. This passage shows us how far wrong those ideas are. When the Lord Jesus comes back, he doesn’t come quietly; nor does he point to anyone else. He doesn’t speak like a prophet, saying, These are words which have been given me to say. He says, My words will never pass away. Only God can say that! Jesus does what only God can do. He says he is coming back – and he is. We don’t know when, but he is coming.

Preparing for the end

As the Lord Jesus continues to speak of his Second Coming, in the closing verses of Mark 13, the emphasis changes slightly. The main message in vv.32-37 is that we do not know the day he is coming – and for that reason, we must be ready all the time. Jesus is coming back; and we must be ready. This section is about preparing for the end. How do we do that? Firstly, we prepare – by not guessing the date (vv.32-33)! It is not hard to grasp the basic message here. You don’t know when I am going to come back, says Jesus. We must not lose sight of that main thrust. However, there is a well-known difficulty in what Jesus says here – indeed it could be said that Mark 13:32 is one of the most difficult verses in the Bible. Jesus is saying, The only person who knows when I am returning is the Father. The Son does not know. In other words, Jesus himself doesn’t know. Now what does that say about Jesus? If Jesus is truly God, as we believe, surely he knows everything? How can he not know something as important as the date of his return? Both Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses use this verse to claim that Jesus is really something less than God, because he is saying there is at least one piece of information which he does not possess. Could they be right?

The first point to make is that this very passage clearly teaches the deity of Christ. In v.26, Jesus says that the Son of Man – that is Christ himself – will come on the clouds with power and glory. That statement, using that language, clearly and unambiguously implies that he is God. ‘Coming with the clouds’ in the Bible describes the appearance of God himself. Again in v.31, Jesus declares that his words will never pass away. He doesn’t say, as a mere prophet would, The words of God won’t pass away, but, My words won’t pass away. So it is inadmissible to take the very next verse to mean that Jesus is less than fully God. The way we have to understand v.32 is to remember that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. He has two natures – a divine nature and a human nature – in one person. Look at 4:35-41. They are in the boat, a violent storm blows up and the disciples are panicking. What do we find Jesus doing here? In v.38 he’s fast asleep in the back of the boat. Then in v.39 he stands up and tells the wind and waves to shut up – and instantly, they do. In his divine nature, Jesus Christ is the Lord of Creation who silences a storm. In his human nature, Jesus is the man who’s had a tiring day and falls asleep on a cushion. He is the man who is God, God who has become man; one person with two natures. It’s difficult to understand, yes, but this is the truth the Bible bears witness to.

In his human nature, Jesus had to learn in the same way that we do. The New Testament tells us that he learned as he grew up (Luke 2:52). He learned the things that every child has to learn; and he learned what suffering meant (Hebrews 5:8, another verse people struggle with). In his finite human nature, Christ does not have all knowledge – humanity is limited. But in his divine nature, he is omniscient. He knows all things. Here in 13:32, Jesus means that in his human nature he does not know the day and hour of his return. In his divine nature, however, he does. But, if we can put it this way, he is choosing not to ‘access’ that knowledge because he wants to emphasise that these matters are for God, and the authority of the Father, and not for men to investigate. By the way, when he says ‘Son’ here, it’s likely we should understand that to mean ‘Son of Man’, emphasising his humanity, rather than ‘Son of God’, emphasising his deity. However, here is the main point of vv.32-33. If even the angels don’t know when Christ is returning – the angels who dwell in the very presence of God, the angels whose understanding is clear and unclouded by sin – there is no way that we can figure it out! If even the Son is content to leave it to the Father, we should be too! We don’t know when he is coming back. That ought to be clear enough – but it hasn’t deterred some people from making predictions, counting off signs, and telling us when the date is going to be – whether that is the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or some Christians who tell us with great confidence that such and such a world event is a sure sign of the imminent return of Christ. To pick a few random examples from recent decades: the Six Day War in Israel, 1967; the expansion of the Common Market or European Union in the 1970s and 80s; and the Chernobyl accident of 1986 have all been picked up by end-time enthusiasts as specific, biblically defined signs of the last days. We should be very wary of any such predictions.

Now, we may well suspect that the time of Christ’s return is very soon. When we look at what is happening in the world, and the various unprecedented crises and disasters, we may well find it impossible to believe the world can continue on its present course for much longer; and that may well be right. We are to live as though it could happen at any moment – because it might. Even then, we should remember that people have thought that many times before in history; clearly they were wrong. The unmistakable signs of Jesus’ coming will appear only just before the end, when it will be too late to prepare. Scripture simply does not give us the information to predict a date. It’s not hidden there in code – however long you spend looking, you won’t find it. Aren’t Jesus words here clear enough? We don’t prepare for the end by guessing the date!

Secondly, on the other hand, we don’t prepare for the end by ignoring the fact (vv.34-36). Jesus illustrates his warning about the time with a little parable (v.34). Here is a wealthy householder with a number of servants. He is going away, but at some point he will return. As he leaves, he gives each of his servants a job to do, and he gives the doorkeeper special responsibility to watch out for his return. Clearly, the householder is Jesus himself. That’s the picture; vv.35-36 then apply the message directly. Now the servants in this household have a number of options, some better, some worse, but the one thing they must not do is to pretend that the master is never coming back. V.35 says you don’t know when he is coming; but the parable assumes with absolute certainty that he is. That message has sounded throughout this chapter (see again vv.7, 26, 27, 32); and now again in v.35. It might be evening, midnight, just before first light or at sunrise – the four watches of the night, in Roman thought – but it will come! The most blind, and frankly the most stupid response anyone can make to the news of Christ’s return is simply to refuse to believe it.

It is not surprising if someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ at all will not accept the fact of his return. But in these words Jesus demands that we reckon with him. He demands that we understand he is not just a figure from history that we can leave safely in the past, or in the pages of a book. He calls us to recognise him as the King who is coming back to claim his throne; and he calls us to listen, obey and be ready – to prepare for the end. We also have to say that it is not only non-Christians who live as though Christ is never coming back. How do our lifestyles show that we expect the Lord to return at any time? How does it show up in our priorities, in our ambitions, in the way that we spend our money? When he returns, and we see his face, we will leave behind the toys of this life without a second glance. So why should they mean so much to us now?

Thirdly, we prepare for the end, quite simply, by doing the job. Let’s revisit the picture in v.34. In this picture the householder, the Lord Jesus, gives to each servant their appointed task, so that they will all be ready for his return. Who are these servants? This message comes first to church leaders. The ‘doorkeeper’ probably refers specially to pastors and church leaders who have the specific responsibility for guarding God’s people who are under their care, protecting the ‘house’ from marauders, from anyone who might break in and cause mayhem – to change the picture, it’s the role of the shepherd with the sheep. That is how leaders, in particular, prepare for the end. The Lord Jesus has charged us to do this; it is what he wants to find us doing whenever he comes back to the house.

Jesus, however, is careful to make sure that his words are not just for the leaders. As he speaks, he has an audience of only four, but look at v.37. This message is for all God’s people. We are all to watch out for Christ’s return – the word used in these closing verses is a strong one (Greek gregoreo): it means more than the ‘look out’ of earlier in the chapter. It means stay alert, keep awake, don’t be taken off guard. The way that we keep watch is to get on with the job he has given us to do – v.34: ‘each with his assigned task’ – whatever that may be, whatever our assigned ministry may be in whatever place he has put us. We should not expect that serving Christ faithfully should be easy. We have seen in this chapter, in v.10, how Jesus talks about the gospel coming to every nation on earth before he returns. That’s exciting, and it’s moving, but the gospel for all nations is not just a vision about missionaries or peoples far away. It is a vision to galvanise us in our ministry wherever we are. The Lord Jesus is coming back. We don’t know when, and we can’t guess the date, but we certainly must not ignore the fact. We must be prepared for the end. The message is urgent. ‘What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!”’

Generously provided by Evangelical Press

A Ransom for Many: the Gospel of Mark Simply Explained (Welwyn Commentary Series); Wilmhurst, Steve; © 2011 EP Books.
Sours: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ransom-for-many/Chapter-20-The-final-crisis-Mark-13

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Matthew 20 – Jesus Teaches of Grace, Greatness, and Service

A. The parable of the workers in the vineyard.

1. (1-2) A landowner’s workers early in the morning.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.”

a. For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner: 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? His reply came in stages.

· First, a promise of reward (Matthew 19:28).

· Second, a warning that God’s manner of distributing reward is not necessarily the manner of men (many who are the first will be last, and the last first, Matthew 19:30).

· Finally, this parable that illustrates the principle that God’s manner of rewarding is not like man’s practice of giving rewards.

b. To hire laborers for his vineyard: The landowner went to the marketplace, which was the gathering place for day laborers. A man who wanted to work came there first thing in the morning, carrying his tools, and waited until someone hired him.

c. Early in the morning: This is literally “at dawn,” usually reckoned to be about 6:00 in the morning. These workers hired at the very beginning of the working day agreed to work for a denarius a day, the common daily wage for a workingman. This was an entirely normal arrangement.

2. (3-7) Through the day, the landowner continues to hire workers.

“And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’”

a. And he went out about the third hour: The third hour was about 9:00 a.m.; the sixth hour was about 12 noon; the eleventh hour was about 5:00 in the evening. Through the day, the landowner went to the place where the laborers gathered, found some standing idle in the marketplace, and hired them to do the work in his vineyard.

i. “If the harvest was not ingathered before the rains broke, then it was ruined; and so to get the harvest in was a frantic race against time. Any worker was welcome, even if he could give only an hour to the work.” (Barclay)

ii. The picture is that the landowner had an inexhaustible supply of work for those who wanted to work. The impression is that the landowner was surprised to find people idle, because he had plenty of work to give them.

iii. Spurgeon applied this to us spiritually: “Why is any one of us remaining idle towards God? Has nothing yet had power to engage us to sacred service? Can we dare to say, ‘No man hath hired us?

b. Whatever is right I will give you… whatever is right you will receive: The landowner promised the earliest workers a day’s wage (a denarius a day). The other workers hired through the day were not promised a specific wage, only whatever is right. He promised to pay all the later workers fairly.

3. (8-10) The landowner pays his workers.

So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.

a. Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first: These are day laborers, so they are paid at the end of each day. When it came time to pay the workers, the men hired last were paid first – and paid for a full day of work!

i. The men who were hired at the eleventh hour – who worked only about one hour – were obviously elated about being paid first, and being paid for a full day.

b. They supposed that they would receive more: The men who worked for the landowner all day saw the men who worked for only an hour come away from the pay table, and they supposed, “If the landowner is paying these guys a full day’s pay for one hour’s work, then we will get far more.”

i. The order of payment was important. If the first workers had been paid first, they would not have had time to develop the expectation of more pay for themselves. “Possibly the first felt their vanity wounded by being paid after the others. They used their waiting time in considering their own superiority to the latecomers.” (Spurgeon)

c. They likewise received a denarius: Yet the men hired first – early in the day, and who had worked all day – got paid exactly what the landowner had promised them (a denarius a day, Matthew 20:2). The landowner did exactly as promised, but their supposition of more pay than promised was disappointed.

4. (11-15) The complaint of the early workers.

“And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’”

a. They complained against the landowner: After being paid, the men hired first took up their complaint with the landowner. They were offended that the landowner gave the men who worked less equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.

i. “The money was paid by the overseer, but he was standing by enjoying the scene.” (Bruce)

ii. It is easy to sympathize with these who had worked all day. They worked while the others were idle. They worked in the heat of the day while others shaded themselves. Yet they were paid exactly the same.

b. Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? The landowner reminded them that he had been completely fair to them. He did them no wrong, and had broken no promise.

c. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you: The landowner did nothing to explain why he did it, other than simply to say “I wish.” The reasons for the landowner’s generosity were completely in the landowner himself, and not in the ones who received.

d. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? The landowner rebuked them for their jealousy and resentment of the landowner’s generosity towards others. He also strongly claimed his right to do what he wanted with what was his.

i. The “evil eye” was a jealous, envious eye. The landowner asked if they were jealous because the landowner was generous to other people. “The ‘evil eye’ was an idiom used to refer to jealousy (cf. Deuteronomy 15:9; 1 Samuel 18:9).” (Carson)

ii. “An evil eye was a phrase in use, among the ancient Jews, to denote an envious, covetous man or disposition; a man who repined at his neighbour’s prosperity, loved his own money, and would do nothing in the way of charity for God’s sake.” (Clarke)

5. (16) The parable applied: the principle of God’s reward.

“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”

a. So the last will be first, and the first last: Peter and the disciples knew they had given up a great deal to follow Jesus. Peter wanted to know what they would get in return. Through this parable Jesus assured Peter and the disciples that they will be rewarded – but the principle of many who are first will be last and the last first (Matthew 19:30) meant that God may not reward as man expects – even as the parable illustrated.

i. Some think this parable speaks of the way that people come to God at different stages of their life. They may come at the beginning of their life, in their youth, in adulthood, in old age, or at the very end. Others think it refers to how the gospel first dawned with John the Baptist, then the preaching of Jesus, then the preaching at Pentecost, then to the Jews, and finally to the Gentiles. It is best understood as a parable about grace and reward.

ii. The disciples should expect to be rewarded; but they should not be surprised if, when rewards are distributed, God will reward others in unexpected ways.

b. Last will be first, and the first last: This is the essence of God’s grace, when He rewards and blesses man according to His will and pleasure, not necessarily according to what men deserve.

i. The system of law is easy to figure out: you get what you deserve. The system of grace is foreign to us: God deals with us according to who He is, not according to who we are.

ii. It is important to see that the landowner did not treat anyone unfairly, though he was more generous to some than to others. We can be assured that God will never, ever be unfair to us, though He may – for His own purpose and pleasure – bestow greater blessing on someone else who seems less deserving.

iii. The point isn’t that all have the same reward – though all God’s people do go to the same heaven (where they will have reward in different measure). The point is that God rewards on the principle of grace, and we should therefore expect surprises. He will never be less than fair, but reserves the right to be more than fair as pleases Him. God’s grace always operates righteously.

iv. This parable is not a perfect illustration of God’s grace, because the principle of working and deserving is involved. The grace of God does not give us more blessing than we deserve – it gives blessing to us completely apart from the principle of deserving.

v. Living under grace is sort of a two-edged sword. Under grace, we can’t come to God complaining, “Don’t I deserve better than this”; because God will reply, “Does this mean that you really want Me to give you what you deserve?”

vi. Grace should be especially manifested in our service; it is of grace, not works.

· All our service is already due to God; it belongs to Him.

· The ability to serve God is the gift of His grace.

· The call to serve God is the gift of His grace.

· Every opportunity to serve is a gift of His grace.

· Being in the right state of mind to do the Lord’s work is a gift of grace.

· Successful service to God is the gift of His grace.

vii. “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.” (Spurgeon)

c. For many are called, but few chosen: This was said in the context of this illustration of grace. Jesus emphasized that both the calling and the choosing of God is based on His grace – especially His choosing.

B. Jesus teaches about status in the kingdom.

1. (17-19) Jesus again reveals the fate waiting for Him at Jerusalem.

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

a. Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem: This was not a surprise to the disciples. Even if Jesus had not specifically told them, their movement south from Galilee at about the time of the Passover feast made it easy to figure out that Jesus and the disciples would be in Jerusalem for Passover.

b. The Son of Man will be betrayed: Jesus again told the disciples what awaited Him in Jerusalem, but no reaction from the disciples is noted. A reaction might especially be expected when Jesus said He would be betrayed.

i. “This he said in the hearing of the disciple who would act the traitor: did no compunction visit his base heart?” (Spurgeon)

ii. “And still is he betrayed! If the gospel dies in England, write on its tomb, ‘Betrayed.’ If our churches lose their holy influence among men, write on them, ‘Betrayed.’ What care we for infidels? What care we for those who curse and blaspheme? They cannot hurt the Christ. His wounds are those which he receives in the house of his friend.” (Spurgeon)

iii. Seemingly, the disciples did not really listen when Jesus said these things. Their expectation was so focused on Jesus establishing an immediate political kingdom, and these words from Jesus were so contrary to that anticipation, these words just went over their heads.

iv. “But Luke saith, they understood none of these things; that is, surely they believed none of them, the saying was hid from them.” (Poole)

v. “When our Lord told the twelve that he would die, they imagined that it was a parable, concealing some deep mystery. They looked at one another, and they tried to fathom where there was no depth, but where the truth lay on the surface.” (Spurgeon)

vi. It is often more agonizing to contemplate the painful future than it is to actually live it. Jesus openly acknowledged the suffering and agony that awaited Him. Jesus thought about how He would fulfill the will of His Father in the future. There was value for Him to look at His coming trial, and to think and say, “I will complete what My Father has given Me to do. I will obey to the end.”

c. Betrayed… they will condemn Him to death… deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again: Jesus was remarkably specific in this announcement of His fate, and foretold many things over which He had no apparent control.

i. Will be betrayed: Conceivably, Jesus could have been delivered to the religious authorities without this. Certainly, He did not arrange His own betrayal. Yet He confidently said it would happen.

ii. They will condemn Him to death: Jesus confidently predicted that the religious leaders would do this; yet this was not something He could plan.

iii. Deliver Him to the Gentiles: Jesus knew that the religious leaders of the Jews did not have authority to carry out capital punishment themselves; yet sometimes they executed men despite this prohibition (Acts 7:54-60). Yet Jesus was confident that He would be delivered to the Gentiles.

iv. To mock and to scourge: Jesus predicted these specific aspects of His coming agony – which on a human level He could not arrange. “They plucked his hair, they smote his cheeks, they spat in his face. Mockery could go no farther. It was cruel, cutting, cursed scorn.” (Spurgeon)

v. And to crucify: Crucifixion was not the only way criminals were executed under the Romans, yet Jesus knew that this was how He would be put to death. “Here is the first mention of the mode of Jesus’ death and of the Gentiles’ part in it (only the Romans could crucify people).” (Carson)

vi. Taken together, the entire picture is one of great suffering.

· Suffering from the disloyalty of friends.

· Suffering from injustice.

· Suffering from deliberate insult.

· Suffering from physical pain.

· Suffering from great humiliation and degradation.

vii. And the third day He will rise again: Most important, this was something that Jesus had no apparent control over. Yet He confidently announced to His disciples that this would happen.

2. (20-21) The mother of James and John asks for a place of special status for her sons.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

a. The mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him: This mother of James and John (Matthew 4:21) came with a request that would make a mother proud and the sons very happy.

i. She “was a regular member of the disciple group who accompanied Jesus (Matthew 27:56), so her involvement in her sons’ ambitious ideas is hardly surprising.” (France)

b. Grant that these two sons of mine may sit: Asking on behalf of her sons (note to whom Jesus replies in Matthew 20:22-23), she wanted prominent positions for them in the messianic administration of Jesus.

i. “The ‘right hand’ and ‘left hand’ suggest proximity to the King’s person and so a share in his prestige and power.” (Carson)

ii. “The promise of Matthew 19:28 forms the background to this request; the ‘thrones’ are already assured, leaving only the question of precedence.” (France)

3. (22-23) Jesus answers James and John: when you ask for a place of special status, do you know what you ask for?

But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink 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 is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”

a. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink: Their answer (“We are able”) seems to come a little too quick. Jesus recognized that they didn’t really understand, but they would.

i. “But these men slept in Gethsemane, forsook the Master when He was arrested, and one of them at least failed Him at the cross…we can only follow Christ in his cup and baptism, after we have been endued with the Spirit of Pentecost.” (Meyer)

b. You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: Both James and John had to be baptized in suffering as Jesus was, but their “cups” and “baptisms” were different. James was the first martyr among the apostles, and John was the only apostle to not die through martyrdom – though not from a lack of trying.

i. James had to be ready to be the first to die among the disciples; John had to be ready to live the longest Christian life and testimony among them. “A Roman coin was once found with the picture of an ox on it; the ox was facing two things – an altar and a plough; and the inscription read: ‘Ready for either.’” (Barclay)

ii. This is a good example of the word baptism having the sense of “immersion” or being “swallowed up in.”

c. But to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give: Jesus here showed remarkable submission to His Father. He would not even claim the right to choose how His servants were rewarded, but yield that to His Father.

i. “He comes to do not his own will, but the will of him that sent him, and so he correctly says of rank in his kingdom, It is not mine to give. How thoroughly did our Lord take a lowly place for our sakes! In this laying aside of authority, he gives a silent rebuke to our self-seeking.” (Spurgeon)

4. (24-28) The disciples’ reaction; Jesus sets forth true greatness.

And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

a. They were greatly displeased: The other ten disciples mistakenly thought that a unique honor had just been bestowed on James and John. They did not know that Jesus could have made the same promise of suffering to come to any of them (if they really wanted it!).

i. “The indignation of the ten doubtless sprang less from humility than jealousy plus fear that they might lose out.” (Carson)

b. Yet it shall not be so among you: Their desire for position and status showed they did not yet know the nature of Jesus in respect to leadership and power. The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, but it should be different among the people of God.

i. Yet it shall not be so among you is a stinging rebuke to the manner in which the modern church looks to the world for both its substance and style. Plainly, the church isn’t to operate the way the world does.

c. Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant: In the Kingdom community, status, money, popularity should never be the prerequisites for leadership. Humble service is the great prerequisite, as shown by Jesus’ own ministry.

i. “In the pagan world humility was regarded, not so much as a virtue, but as a vice. Imagine a slave being given leadership!” (Carson)

d. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve: Real ministry is done for the benefit of those ministered to, not for the benefit of the minister. Many people are in the ministry for what they can receive (either materially or emotionally) from their people instead of for what they can give.

i. “He received nothing from others; his was a life of giving, and the giving of a life…No service is greater than to redeem sinners by his own death, no ministry is lowlier than to die in the stead of sinners.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “He does not come to be served, but to serve. Does not this suit you, poor sinner — you who never did serve him, you who could not, as you are, minister to him? Well, he did not come to get your service; he came to give you his services; not that you might first do him honor, but that he might show you mercy.” (Spurgeon)

e. And to give His life a ransom for many: The death of Jesus – the giving of His life – purchased the freedom of His people. The idea is that His people were in bondage as slaves, and He paid their price.

i. Ransom “was most commonly used as the purchase price for freeing slaves.” (Carson) “Lytron (‘ransom’) and the preposition anti (‘for’, literally ‘instead of’) point clearly to the idea of his ‘taking our place’.” (France)

ii. These words of Jesus gave rise to an old and complicated theological question: to whom did Jesus pay the ransom? Origen said it was the devil; Gregory of Nyssa objected that this put the devil on the same level as God, and allowed the devil to dictate terms to God. Gregory the Great said that Jesus was like a baited hook meant to catch Satan, and Peter the Lombard said the cross was like a mousetrap to catch the devil, baited with the blood of Christ. All of this takes the simple picture Jesus gave too far. “A ransom is something paid or given to liberate a man from a situation from which it is impossible to free himself.” (Barclay)

iii. “Had all the sinners that ever lived in the world been consigned to hell, they could not have discharged the claims of justice. They must still continue to endure the scourge of crime they could never expiate. But the Son of God, blending the infinite majesty of his Deity with the perfect capacity to suffer as a man, offered an atonement of such inestimable value that he has absolutely paid the entire debt for his people.” (Spurgeon)

iv. “Most scholars have also recognized in ‘the many’ a clear reference to Isaiah.” (Carson) By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11) He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many (Isaiah 53:12)

C. Jesus heals two blind men.

1. (29-31) Two blind men gain the attention of Jesus.

Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

a. When they heard that Jesus was passing by: They knew this might be their last time to meet Jesus. They had the desperation appropriate for those who know that today is the day of salvation.

i. “It is the end of the account of Jesus’ itinerant ministry, and its setting as they went out of Jericho points forward to the next town on the road, Jerusalem.” (France)

b. Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David! The earnestness of these men was marvelous; they were desperate to be healed, and ignored the crowd that tried to quiet them (they cried out all the more).

i. “When the world and the devil begin to rebuke, in this case, it is a proof that the salvation of God is nigh; therefore, let such cry out a great deal the more.” (Clarke)

c. Lord, Son of David: However, in their desperation they glorified Jesus. They gave Him full honor with this title.

2. (32-34) Jesus heals the two blind men.

So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

a. Jesus stood still: Nothing could stop Him on His journey to Jerusalem; yet He stood still to answer a persistent plea for mercy.

b. What do you want Me to do for you? This is a wonderful, simple question God has not stopped asking. Sometimes we go without when God would want to give us something simply because we will not answer this question, and we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2).

i. Jesus asked this question with full knowledge that these men were blind. He knew what they needed and what they wanted, but God still wants us to tell Him our needs as a constant expression of our trust and reliance on Him.

c. And they immediately followed Him: This was a great result. Not only were they healed, but they also followed the One who did great things for them.

i. “Reader, whosoever thou art, act in behalf of thy soul as these blind men did in behalf of their sight, and thy salvation is sure. Apply to the Son of David; lose not a moment; he is passing by, and thou art passing into eternity, and probably wilt never have a more favourable opportunity than the present. The Lord increase thy earnestness and faith!” (Clarke)

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Sours: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/matthew-20/


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