Matthew 20 Verse by Verse

Matt photoJesus tells a parable about rewards which leads to some surprises.  Then he once again foretells his death and resurrection.  He also gives his disciples a lesson on greatness.

Matthew 20.mp3     (Kenny Washington)

A Prayer Prompted by the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard – Matthew 20:1-16

Heavenly Father,

I count it as a privilege to serve you, so help me always to be content in my service.  Help me also to be content with what you bless me with in the way of wages or rewards.  I know that all that you give me, especially that which will come my way in eternity is completely undeserved.

Help me not to look at the service or the wages of others in such a way as to make me envious of them.  I can easily forget that you are always fair and even generous when I fall into improper comparisons.

In the deepest sense it is really not possible for me to see what others experience as they serve you.  I cannot see their inner conflicts or background struggles, nor can they fully see mine.  In the end, all of us truly need to trust you and know that all that we have from you is all of grace.

Keep us ever mindful of your goodness and grace toward us.

In Christ,
Amen

Going last – Matthew 19:29-30

30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

This verse does wonders to correct our outlook on life.  First, it discourages the bigger, better, faster, more mentality that we so often engage in.  If only … and everything would be all right.  And so we strive with all our might for whatever “…” is, on the assumption that if we achieve it, we would be happy, or finally attain our rightful position in life.  Sometimes this is really about seeking to be first.  If so, we can be pretty sure God is not pleased with it.  The verse come right after a verse on self-sacrifice or self-denial.

29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

If self-sacrifice or self-denial involves putting ourselves last for the sake of Jesus, then we can do so happily, trusting that we lose nothing in the process.  It will likely even lead to long-term gain.

Second, we sometimes feel “last” unintentionally.  Despite our best efforts, things just have not gone our way.  This may be a blessing in disguise.  If we had our way, we might have succeeded and been able to put ourselves first, and then what?  In the Great Future Reversal of Status (a term I just made up), we would lose.  Honestly, we would rather be last now.  There is little advantage to the attainment of visible status at the present time.  So says Jesus.

Our goal must be to put Jesus first no matter what.  There may be an “opportunity” to give something or someone up for him, though it may be disappointing in the present moment.  Then, of course, we can often give priority to others.  Let their needs be met, even if we do without, for Jesus’ sake.  That’s often hard and doesn’t feel right or enjoyable most of the time.  The point is we should not live for the present, but for eternity.  Going last is the way to do it.