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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 20

Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the BibleBox on Selected Books

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At The Heart Of Christianity

Matthew Twenty

Matthew twenty takes us to the very heart of Christianity. At the heart of Christianity is (1) God's grace, (2) The death of Christ, (3) The spirit of service, and (4) Compassion for the hurting. All of these truths are seen in this great section of Scripture.

This chapter begins with the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Jesus said some that were hired early in the morning agreed to work for a penny a day. The trouble came when others that were hired later in the day were also paid a penny. Those that had worked through the heat of the day though they should have received more. The lesson of this parable was to demonstrate God's grace. Jesus said "the first will be last and the last shall be first."

Jesus again reminded the disciples that He was going up to Jerusalem to be betrayed, condemn to death, mocked, scourged, and crucified and on the third day He would rise again. Except for the death of Jesus we would be in a hopeless spiritual state.

As Jesus and His disciples started towards Jericho two blind men begged to be healed. Jesus had compassion and healed them.

Verses 1-16

At The Heart Of Christianity Is The Grace Of God Mat_20:1-16 : The parable of the workers in the vineyard is a powerful lesson on the theme of God's grace. What God gives comes from His goodness not from what we deserve. Some workers were hired early in the morning to go work in the vineyard. It was agreed that they would receive a penny for their work.

However, we are more like workers that stood idle all day. They waited through the day and finally were hired at the last hour. We are like them in that they did not earn what they received but received it because the man who hired them was good. "Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?" ( Mat_20:15 ) In the parable the householder is God. The vineyard is the church and the undeserving laborers are Christians. We do not deserve anything but by God's grace we are saved.

When the last ones hired received a penny those hired first thought they should have received more. How dare anyone try to tell God Almighty what to do with what is rightfully His in the first place. The order was the last shall be first and the first shall be last, many are called but few are chosen. The workers complained but they should have praised the Master for His generosity. We were called from the market place of the world's idleness into work in the Lord's vineyard. Do not put off obeying God until your lose your reward.

God, in His goodness, allowed the Jews to be first called into His kingdom. He likewise allowed the Gentiles to be called last. Now He also gives us what we do not deserve nor can we earn salvation by His grace. But His message is still the same. "Why are you standing here idle all day?" "...Go into the vineyard..." But remember, "many are called, but few are chosen." ( Mat_20:16 )

Verses 17-19

At The Heart Of Christianity Is The Death Of Christ Mat_20:17-19 : We are allowed to walk along with Jesus and His disciples as they make their way to Jerusalem. Along the way Jesus talked about His betrayal, suffering and death. "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 His to death." ( Mat_20:18 ) Jesus knew what awaited Him at Jerusalem. He would be, "mocked and scourged and crucified and the third day he would rise again." ( Mat_20:19 )

The details Jesus provided concerning His resurrection must have given both comfort and encouragement to the disciples. Without the death of Jesus for our sins we would be in a hopeless and helpless spiritual state. We must come to know and appreciate the words of 1Jn_1:7 . "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." The betrayal, suffering and death of Jesus should make us aware of the role that God's grace played in our salvation.

Verses 20-28

At The Heart Of Christianity Is The Spirit Of Service Mat_20:20-28 : On at least three occasions there was a discussion among the apostles concerning greatness in the kingdom. ( Mat_18:1-4 , Mat_20:20-28 and Luk_22:24-27 ) In John 13 Jesus taught the lesson of humble service by washing the feet of the apostles. "You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." ( Joh_13:13-15 )

The mother of Zebedee's children with her sons and the other disciples were still thinking about an earthly kingdom, rather than the church, God's spiritual kingdom. This mother wanted her sons to have honor in that earthly kingdom. Jesus asked them if they were willing to suffer for the kingdom and to agonize with Him is building the church or kingdom? Christ let it be know that be great in His kingdom did not come through worldly power but by humble service to others.

Every Christian must have a servant's heart. "...whoever desires to become great 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." ( Mat_20:26-28 ) The price paid to set us free from sin was Jesus becoming a servant and giving His life a ransom for many. Those that would become His follower must follow His example of service.

Verses 29-34

At The Heart Of Christianity Is Compassion Mat_20:29-34 : As Jesus left Jericho he was met by two blind men. These men, like many that are blind, had sharp ears. They had learned that Jesus was passing that way. They believed that He was able to give them back their sight. The two blind men begged Jesus, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David?" ( Mat_20:30 ) Jesus asked them, "what do you want Me to do for you?" ( Mat_20:32 ) They wanted their eyes opened.

These men knew that Jesus was their only opportunity of getting their sight back so they would not allow the multitude to silence them. When He called them they went to Him immediately. Some hear the Master call thousands of times and never go to Him. Jesus heard their cries for mercy. In pity or compassion He touched their eyes and they received their sight. ( Mat_20:34 ) The result of Jesus having compassion and helping these men was “they followed Him.” Following Jesus was the best way these men could express their thanks.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 20". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/matthew-20.html. 2014.
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