One hour’s service in the spirit of humble trust will be as abundantly rewarded as 12 hours of legal service where reward is sought as a matter of debt. The way to true greatness is to be humble and serviceable with an eye continually to the great pattern servant, Jesus, who came into the world not to be waited upon but to wait upon others and give His life a ransom.
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.
Matthew 20:1-16 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 20:17-28 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 20:29-34 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 20:1-16 – The Bargaining Spirit Rebuked
This parable originated in Peter’s question. He had seen the rich young man go away sorrowful, because he could not meet the test which had been put to him; and he contrasted with that great refusal the swift willingness with which he and his fellow Apostles had left all to follow the Lord Jesus.
“Take care,” said Jesus, “or your bargaining for the rewards of the Kingdom, will put you down among the lowest; while they who don’t bargain will come out at the top.” The last made no agreement; they came in at the eleventh hour, and were only too glad to take the vineyard path, leaving the vine owner to give what he thought right. The first “agreed,” taking care to strike a bargain of so much money for so much work. But they would have done better if they had left the payment to the grace of their employer. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed” (Romans 4:16). —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 20:17-28 – Serving Nobler than Self-Seeking
For the third time our Lord foretells His death. In Matthew 16:21, He dwelt especially on the shame of His rejection; in Matthew 17:23, He told how the gates of death would open on the Easter joy. Now He declares the method of His death, and tells how Gentiles would join with His own people in the tragedy of the Cross. He was no martyr, who went unknowing to his doom. He set His face to go to the Cross. Others die because they were born; He was born that He might die.
Many desire the power of the throne, without being prepared to pay the price of suffering. Others say glibly and easily, We can, little realizing what their choice involves, and that nothing but the grace of God can make their vow possible of fulfillment. But it is sufficient! Only claim it. God will not fail you! Notice Matthew 20:28. The Lord ministers to us all, daily, patiently, lovingly. He took on Him the form of a servant and became obedient. Serve all men for His sake! We have to go down to reach His side. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Never had there been such a going up to Jerusalem as that which Jesus here proposes to His disciples. Jesus goes up voluntarily. The act was not enforced by any external compulsion. Jerusalem might at this time have been avoided. It was deliberately sought. Jesus was hereby fulfilling the Father’s will, executing the mission on which He had been sent. It was after this journey that He said (John 17:4), “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” His going up was a part of that work. Hence it was right for Him to go up, although He knew that betrayal, arrest, condemnation and crucifixion awaited Him. It was a going up to a triumph to be reached through defeat, a coronation to be attained through ignominy and humiliation.
O believer, in your walk through the world today, be strengthened, be comforted, be inspired, by the spectacle of the Captain of your salvation thus going up to Jerusalem! And remember in all those apparently downward passages of life, where sorrow and it may be death, lie before you, that all such descents, made or endured in the spirit of Jesus, are really up-goings, steps leading you to the mount of God and the resurrection glory. (Joseph B. Stratton)
Matthew 20:22—We are able.
This is the cry of youth—ardent, impulsive, self confident. It does not wait to calculate the ridges and hummocks that lie between it and its goal, but supposes that it will be able to skate the entire distance over the glistening azure-blue ice. Without hesitation it counts on being able to brave all difficulty, surmount all hardship, drink the cup, and be baptized with the baptism.
But these men slept in Gethsemane, forsook the Master when He was arrested, and one of them at least failed Him at the cross. Creature-might cannot carry us in the hour of our greatest peril. We can vaunt ourselves as we may; but we have to learn that we can only follow Christ in his cup and baptism, after we have been endued with the Spirit of Pentecost. I once knew two who said these words to God, when He presented them with the cup of suffering and death. They did not know all it involved; and they confessed afterwards that they could never have stood to their choice, had they not been graciously and repeatedly enabled. But at the end they could not wish it to have been otherwise.
How different were the experiences of these two men! To one the cup and baptism came swiftly, when he fell beneath the beheading axe of Herod (Act 12:2); to the other they came in long, long years of sharing in the patience of Jesus Christ. These are different aspects of the same fellowship of suffering—swift death, or long waiting; but in both nearness to Jesus. We have no right to cherish the assurance of sitting right and left of the throne, if that only means our own power, authority, glory. But if it means nearness to Jesus, we may count on it with the utmost assurance. —Our Daily Homily
Matthew 20:29-34 – The Great Healer
The Lord is always saying: What will ye that I shall do? Let us not ask small things. We honor Him by making great demands. Our greatest requests come far short of His generosity and resources. It seems as though we are always giving Him pain by the meagerness of our expectation. Whatever people say, cry out so much the more! But remember it is not the outcry, but your need and your faith which will arrest His steps. —Through the Bible Day by Day