Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 20

I am staring at a blank screen this morning. I am humbled by the beginning of Matthew chapter 20, which promises equality in the sight of God. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard carries that centralized theme that all are equal regardless of when we enter the kingdom of God. The workers that begin working at the beginning of the day are the people that know the message early in life and fully devote themselves to it. Those that begin working at the 11th hour are those that finally come to know Christ only very late in life. It is something I can live with. It shows that there are no favorites and we all get the same reward. The reward itself, eternal life and peace, is certainly worth more than anything on this earth anyway.

13"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don'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." – Matthew 20:13-16

In our human nature we don’t like this idea. This almost shows that hard work does not pay off if the reward is the same in the end. Still, it carries over strongly into Jesus’ next point when he refers to James and John. James and John were brothers that worked incredibly hard as disciples. In this chapter, we see that their mother asks for a special place for them within the kingdom of God because of their work. We saw in yesterday’s message that the Twelve were already promised to sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. This request, however, is for an even more special honor, one that was not Christ’s to give.

23Jesus 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."
24When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25Jesus 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. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." – Matthew 20:23-28

This is such a gentle rebuke that you almost miss it. Jesus is saying here that we do not serve in order to gain glory in the kingdom of God. We serve merely because we are called to serve. We serve because of the example set before us in Christ. Here is someone that had no need to serve. He could have ruled and been served throughout His ministry, yet instead He set for the ultimate example of humility.

I have had this tumbling over inside my head for most of the morning. I am wondering if writing this blog even is serving anymore. I don’t receive any feedback and don’t know if anyone even reads it, yet I know in my heart I am called to serve in this way. This is true with my entire life right now. Mentally, I can barely move forward. I am so depressed most days that it hurts to even breathe. I am lost, directionless, and I am forced to trust God will come through even when there appears to be nothing on the horizon but horrible things because I can’t find work. My plans for my life are totally on hold right now. That makes me frustrated because I can’t fulfill them, and angry because I feel robbed of the joy that others have when they are allowed to move forward in their life.

But still I serve.


1. Are you serving a purpose, or purposely serving?
2. Do you think the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is fair?
3. Why would James and John seek such honor?

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