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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 20

Broadus' Commentary on MatthewBroadus on Matthew

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Verses 1-16

Matthew 19:23 to Matthew 20:16 . Hard For The Rich To Be Saved. Reward Of Sacrifices For Christ's Sake

This section, except the parable, is found also in Mark 10:23-31 Luke 18:24-30 . In both it is immediately connected as here with the story of the young ruler. Luke tells us, 'And Jesus seeing him said'; Mark, 'Jesus looked round about, and said' While the young man walked gloomily away, Jesus looked at him and at his disciples, and spoke to them the great lessons which follow. The section divides itself into Luke 18:23-26 , Luke 18:27-30 , and Matthew 20:1-16 .

I. Matthew 19:23-26 . Hard For The Rich To Be Saved

Mark 10:23-27 Luke 18:24-27 . Verily I say unto you , calling special attention, see on "Matthew 5:18 ". A rich man shall hardly enter . It is hard for a rich man (Rev. Ver.), was the rendering of Tyndale and followers. The Com. Ver. though more literal, would now suggest improbability rather than difficulty. The Jews inclined to think it much easier for a rich man than for a poor man. The former had in his very prosperity a proof of the divine favour; he was prima facie a good man, and might feel very hopeful about entering the kingdom. Our Lord had not long before this spoken a parable, (Luke 16:19 ) in which, contrary to what all Jews would have expected the beggar Lazarus went to Abraham's bosom, and the rich man to torment. Much earlier (comp on Matthew 5:3 ) he had shown that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor, if they have the corresponding poverty in spirit. Kingdom of heaven , see on "Matthew 3:2 ". He was far from meaning, that all poor men will be saved, and all rich men lost; for Lazarus was carried to the bosom of Abraham, who in life was very rich, as were also Isaac and Jacob and Joseph, David and Solomon, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and apparently the family of Bethany. On the perils of riches, compare Matthew 13:22 , 1 Timothy 6:9 f. The expression in Com. text of Mark 10:24 , 'for them that trust in riches,' must be omitted. [1] This strong statement our Lord now repeats (v. 34), in a hyperbolical form such as he so often employed to awaken attention and compel remembrance. (See on "Matthew 5:39 ".) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. So also Mark and Luke. The camel was the largest beast familiar to the Jews, and the needle's eye was the smallest opening in any familiar object. So the expression denotes an impossibility, and it was so understood by the disciples and so treated by Jesus just after. (Matthew 19:26 ) A little later, (Matthew 23:24 ) our Lord will again use the camel as the largest beast in another hyperbolical expression, "who strain out the gnat and swallow the cabin the Talmud, for an elephant to go through a needle's eye is several times employed as an expression of impossibility, the Jews in foreign countries having now become familiar with an animal even larger than the camel. Our Lord may have been using a proverb (compare on Matthew 7:3 ), but there is no proof that such a saying was current in his time. The (Sura VII, 88) borrows, as it often does, the saying of Jesus: "Those who say our signs are lies and are too big with pride for them, for these the doors of heaven shall not be open, and they shall not enter into Paradise until a camel shall pass into a needle's eye." The notion that the word means a cable, found in Cyril on Luke, and in a scholium ascribed to Origen (Tisch.), and mentioned by Theophyl. and Euthym. as held by "some," was merely an attempt to soften the incongruity of the image; and the statement of the late lexicographer Suidas and a scholium on Aristophanes that kamelos is the animal, kamilos a thick cable, probably arose from that attempt. (Liddell and Scott.) The Memph., Latin, and Pesh. versions give camel. Origen understands the camel, and takes the phrase as a figure for the impossible; so Chrys. and followers. Jerome explains likewise, but adds that as Isaiah declares (Isaiah 60:6 ) that the camels of Midian and Ephah come to Jerusalem with gifts, and though curved and distorted they enter the gates of Jerusalem, so the rich can enter the narrow gate by laying aside their burden of sins and all their bodily deformity which is only his loose allegorizing upon a point not brought into view by the Saviour. A gloss to Anselm (A. D. 1033-1109), given in Aquinas, says that "at Jerusalem there was a certain gate called the Needle's Eye, through which a camel could not pass, save on its bended knees and after its burden had been taken off; and so the rich," etc. This is to all appearance a conjecture suggested by Jerome's allegorizing remark. Lord Nugent many years ago (quoted in Morison, from Kitto) heard at Hebron a narrow entrance for foot-passengers, by the side of the larger gate, called "the eye of a needle." Fish (p. 165), speaking of the Jaffa gate at Jerusalem, says: "There is here a small gate in the large one, bearing the name Needle's Eye. My dragoman informed me of this, and said it had always been so called. I afterwards inquired of a Christian Jew, for thirty years a resident in Jerusalem, who verified the statement, and farther said that any little gate like that, in a large one, in both Palestine and Egypt, was called a needle's eye (a fact which I have since ascertained from other sources)." So far as this usage really exists, it probably arose from the saying in the New Testament, the Talmud and the Koran, together with Jerome's allegorizing remark. It is perfectly evident that Jesus was understood, and meant to be understood, as stating an impossibility; and as to the incongruity of the image, it is no greater than that of Matthew 23:24 , and employed an animal as familiar to his hearers as the horse is to us.

[1] It is wanting in several of the earliest and best documents, and we readily account for its insertion as originally a marginal explanation of a difficulty, and by way of correspondence to the next verse, while we can see no reason why copyists should have struck it out.

Matthew 19:25 f. The disciples were exceedingly amazed , for this was contrary to all the notions in which they were reared. Since everybody believed that a rich man was shown by his wealth to have God's favour, and could secure further favour by his beneficence, and since Jesus has declared that it is practically impossible for a rich man to enter the Messianic kingdom, they very naturally asked, Who then can be saved? with emphasis on 'who' and 'can.' Their idea is that things being as the Master has stated (which is the meaning of the particle translated 'then'), nobody can be saved. And to this he assents. As a matter of human power, no one can be saved; but with God all things are possible , (compare Luke 1:37 Job 42:2 Genesis 18:14 ) and the divine omnipotence may save even a rich man.

II. Matthew 19:27-30 . Jesus Promises Reward To Those That Have Left All For His Sake

Mark 10:28-31 Luke 18:28-30 . Peter speaks for his companions as well as himself (see on "Matthew 16:16 "), and the answer is addressed to them all, 'you' (Matthew 19:28 ). Behold, we , the word 'we' being expressed in the Greek, and thus emphatic; so also in Mark and Luke. Have forsaken all , as the rich young ruler had just refused to do. (Matthew 19:22 ) And followed thee , compare on Matthew 4:19 f. Luke 18:28 has (correct text) 'have left our own,' i. e. , property, while the young ruler would not leave his. Some had left their calling as fishermen, Matthew a public office, James and John their parents, Peter his home and family. What shall we have therefore? without any special emphasis on 'we.' This clause is not given by Mark or Luke, being obviously implied in Peter's foregoing statement. The apostle's inquiry may be easily stigmatized as self-complacent or mercenary. But Jesus evidently did not so regard it. They had made real sacrifices, and were following him in worldly destitution with dismal worldly prospects, for they were now near Jerusalem, where he would be rejected and put to death. (Matthew 16:21 ) The situation was very serious. Jesus solemnly promises great reward to the Twelve (Matthew 19:28 ), and extends it to all who have left anything for his sake (Matthew 19:29 ); and then guards against all selfish and jealous claims of superior reward in Luke 18:30 , illustrated by the parable which follows.

Matthew 19:28 . He begins with a solemn assurance, as in Matthew 19:23 , Verily I say unto you , see on "Matthew 5:18 ". This special promise to the Twelve is found only in Matthew, to whose Jewish readers it would be of special interest. In the regeneration. The Greek word here used ( palingenesia ) is found nowhere else in New Testament save Titus 3:5 , where it denotes the spiritual new birth. Here it has a very different sense. Plutarch uses it for the appearance of souls in new bodies (Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration); M. Antoninus speaks, according to a Stoic conception, of "the periodical new-birth of the universe," viz., in spring; Philo, according to another Stoic conception, foretells a new-birth of the world out of fire; Cicero speaks of his "restoration to dignities and honours " as "this new birth of ours"; and a late Piatonist says, "Recollection is a new birth of knowledge." These uses will illustrate our passage, which has a kindred but profounder sense. When the Messianic reign is fully established, there will be a new-birth of all things, called also a "restoration of all things", (Acts 3:21 , Revelation Ver.) "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13 ; compare Revelation 21:1 , Revelation 21:5 ), and the deliverance of the whole creation from the bondage of corruption at the revealing of the sons of God in redeemed bodies. (Romans 8:18-23 ) The Peshitta here translates 'in the new world,' or new age, period. (Compare on Matthew 12:32 .) Understood thus, 'in the regeneration' [1] is manifestly not connected with 'ye that have followed me,' for it denotes not the beginning, but the consummation of the Messianic reign, when the Son of man (see on "Matthew 8:20 ") shall sit in the throne of his glory , compare Matthew 25:31 ; also Matthew 7:22 , Matthew 16:27 . All this high-wrought imagery of a universal restoration, a new birth, a new universe, must of course be interpreted as imagery, and must not be so understood as to exclude other facts of the future which are plainly revealed, as in Matthew 25:46 . Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones , is of course an image. It is idle to insist upon the exact number twelve, (compare Revelation 21:12-14 ) and so to be troubled about the fact that while Matthias took the place of Judas, Paul made thirteen apostles. Judging the twelve tribes of Israel certainly does not mean that only Jews will be judged, or that one apostle will judge one tribe. The Oriental king, and the Roman emperor, was also a judge, and when he sat on his throne in public, it was usually for the purpose of hearing petitions or complaints and giving judgment, Such a monarch often had persons seated near him (called by the Romans "assessors"), to aid him in judging; compare Revelation 4:4 ; "round about the throne were four and twenty thrones." To this position of dignity and honour will the Twelve be exalted at the consummation of the Messianic kingdom; compare 1 Corinthians 6:2 , "the saints shall judge the world." Our Lord will use the same image again on the night before the crucifixion, Luke 22:30 .

[1] On this term see Trench, Synonyms . It means not exactly a new birth, but a being born again , another birth. In 1 Peter 1:3 , 1 Peter 1:23 the verb anagennao means 'to beget over again,' not a second begetting or birth, but going back and repeating the first process. So in John 3:3 , 'born anew,' over again. There is of course no substantial difference between this image and that of Titus 3:5 . Other terms describe the same spiritual process as a 'renewing,' (1 Corinthians 4:16 ; Romans 12:2 ; Colossians 3:10 ; Titus 3:5 ; Ephesians 4:23 .)

Matthew 19:29 . Not only the Twelve are to be rewarded, but every one that hath forsaken ( left ) anything for his sake; 'every one' is in the Greek a very strong expression; every one whosoever. The enumeration is substantially the same in Mark and Luke. But Luke, while condensing some of the other expressions, has also 'or wife,' and this, as so often happened in parallel passages, crept early into many copies of Matthew and Mark. Being omitted by fewer earlier copies of Matt. than of Mark, the Rev. Ver. here places it in the margin. Though not belonging to either Matthew or Mark, we know from Luke that the word was spoken.

The list of objects is not intended in any case to be complete; it mentions several principal things, and we understand that the same is true of anything else. Houses may have been mentioned first because some of the Twelve, as Simon Peter, had left homes; lands last, because real estate among the Jews was specially valuable property, not to be alienated, compare Acts 4:34 , Acts 4:37 . The most exactly similar case at the present time is seen in the foreign missionary, or in a converted heathen, who is cast out by his kindred, and finds compensation in the Christian affection and kind offices of the other converts, and in the joy of serving Christ, and hoping for eternal life. More remotely similar is the case of a worldly young person in a Christian land, who becomes converted, and forsakes worldly pleasures and companionships. Shall receive a hundredfold. It is doubtful whether we should read this as in Mark, or 'manifold' (Rev. Ver., margin ), as in Luke. The question is of no practical importance. [1] We might in reading Matt. think only of rewards after death. Mark 10:30 says, 'a hundredfold now in this time.... and in the world to come eternal life'; and such a distinction seems to be intended in Matt. also. Jesus speaks of earthly rewards first, but does not mean literally similar things to those left, but equivalent things blessings temporal or spiritual, that will compensate many times over for all that was abandoned. The expressions cannot possibly be understood literally, because that would be promising in Mark a hundred mothers, and compare Luke.

[1] It has considerable scientific interest. The reading is certainly 'a hundredfold' in Mark (no variation at all), probably 'manifold' in Matthew., and quite possibly 'sevenfold' in Luke, though this last is found only in the "Western" documents

Matthew 19:30 . But many that are first shall be last , etc. This enigmatical saying is given also by Mark 10:31 . In Matthew our Lord proceeds to illustrate it by a parable, at the close of which (Matthew 20:16 ) he repeats the saying. In the parable an employer pays, and asserts his right to pay, the same wages to labourers who began later in the day, as to those who began early. Then Jesus is here speaking of the rewards that will be given his followers, and declares that these will be given as a matter of sovereignty, without recognizing any claim to precedence. So the immediate application of the saying to the Twelve is probably to the order in which they became disciples. In their disputes as to which should have the highest place in the kingdom (compare on Matthew 18:1 ), now shortly to be renewed, (Matthew 20:20 ) some of the disciples might naturally urge that the highest places should be given to those who first followed the Master. So far as we know, these were John and Andrew, next Andrew's brother Simon, and presently Philip and Nathanael. (John 1:35-51 ) Now Simon and Andrew, John and his brother James, were afterwards together called to leave other employments and follow Jesus, (Matthew 4:18-22 ) are repeatedly mentioned together as being in his company, (Mark 1:39 ; Mark 13:3 ) and constitute the first four in every list of the Twelve (see on "Matthew 10:2 "). Peter, James, and John were alone with Jesus during that night upon the mountain, (Matthew 17:1 ) of which they would give the others no account, (Matthew 17:9 ) as they had been on a former interesting occasion. (Mark 5:37 ) And presently James and John will ask through their mother (Matthew 20:20 ) for the two highest places. These facts make it not at all unnatural to suppose that the order of time entered into their disputes. Our Lord then means that he, or the Father, (Matthew 20:23 ) will act as he shall think proper (Matthew 20:15 ) in respect to precedence, and many who entered his service late will receive greater reward than others who entered earlier; he will recognize no claim on any such ground. A notable instance would be the Apostle Paul. But while immediately designed to check disputes as to this question of time, the principle is stated generally and may have other applications. It is presupposed throughout, as already involved in Matthew 19:28 f., that Christ's servants will be differently rewarded; we learn here that this reward will not be regulated by the mere outward conditions of the time spent in his service, or the results actually attained, but will be conferred according to his own judgment and sovereign pleasure. David, who meant to build, will be rewarded as truly, and it may be as richly, as Solomon who built; James who was early slain, as truly as his brother who lived so long. The often repeated view of some Fathers that the reference was to Jews and Gentiles, is quite untenable. The equal reward of some who die early is set forth by a somewhat similar illustration in Talmud Jerus., Berach., ch. II, 8 (Schwab), designed to give comfort in regard to the early death of a rabbi. A king hired many labourers, and seeing one who worked remarkably well, took him apart after two hours to walk with him to and fro. At even he paid this man as much as the others, and when they complained, he said, 'This man has done more in two hours than you in a whole day.' In like manner the young rabbi knew the law better when he died at the age of twenty-eight than any other would have known it if he had lived to be a hundred. Thus the resemblance to our Lord's illustration is only partial, and the point of application quite different, while in itself very pleasing.

Reward Of Sacrifices For Christ's Sake, Continued

III. Matthew 20:1-16 . Parable Of The Labourers Who Received The Same Reward

Found in Matthew only. It is designed to illustrate the saying of Matthew 19:30 , which is repeated at the close, as the outcome of the illustration. (Matthew 20:16 ) The terms of the parable itself are for the most part plain.

Matthew 20:1-6 . The kingdom of heaven , the Messianic reign (see on "Matthew 3:2 ") is like , in some respects resembles, the following story (compare on Matthew 13:24 ) Unto a man, that is a householder . As the story is told in the past tense throughout, the Amer. Revisers very naturally wish to insert 'that was', rather than 'that is', as in Matthew 13:22 , where the present tense follows. 'Householder', or housemaster , is the same word as in Matthew 10:25 (See on "Matthew 10:25 "); Matthew 13:52 , Matthew 13:57 , and below in Matthew 21:21 , Matthew 21:33 , Matthew 21:24 , Matthew 21:43 . He owns a house, and a vineyard. (Matthew 20:8 ) A penny , denarius , about seventeen cents, see on Matthew 18:28 . This was the customary wages of a soldier or a labourer; Plin. XXXIII, 8; Tac., Ann. I, 17; Tobit 5:14 ; Talmud. The third hour . The Jews divided the day, from Sunrise to sunset, into twelve parts. At the vernal and autumnal equinox these would be exactly as long as an hour with us, but at other seasons would be longer or shorter. The sixth hour would always be noon, the third and ninth would correspond loosely to our 9 A.M. and 3 P.M.; the eleventh hour loosely to an hour before sunset. In the market place , or public square , where people came together for business or conversation. Go ye also , 'ye' being expressed in the Greek and thus emphatic. Whatsoever is right , no definite bargain as with the first set. In the supposed actual occurrence this might result from haste, or from the fact that they would now be glad to find employment at all, and would trust the employer's justice without s definite arrangement. As to the illustration, this point prepares for the result, and the peculiar application. About the eleventh hour . Here 'hour' is not expressed in the correct Greek text, but naturally suggested. Others standing idle . The word 'idle' is here wanting in very many of the earliest and best documents, and was obviously drawn by copyists from Tobit 5:3 and the end of Tobit 5:6 . Why stand ye here all the day idle? This is often used homiletically as representing persons who are slothful in neglecting to work in Christ's vineyard. But such application is unwarranted, and alien to the tone of the parable. The reason given by these men is treated as valid, and they are paid for a full day's work.

Matthew 20:7 . Go ye also , 'ye' emphatic, as in Matthew 20:4 [1] Obviously this employer of labour acts very peculiarly. (Compare Bruce.) It is not necessary to seek parallel cases, nor wise to propose his course as a model in ordinary business (as Ruskin does in "Unto this last," the title being drawn from Matthew 20:12 .) The thing is possible, and the story is meant as an illustration of God's course, who is other and higher than man. (Isaiah 55:8 f.)

[1] The final clause in the common Greek text, 'and whatsoever is right that ye shall receive,' is wanting in the earliest and best documents. We can easily account for its insertion from Matthew 20:4 , and cannot account for its omission if originally present; so there is no doubt that it is here spurious.

Matthew 20:8-12 . His steward , same word in Luke 8:3 Galatians 4:2 , is natural in the story of a great employer; what good is done by saying that the steward represents Christ? (Compare on Matthew 13:3 ) Beginning from the last was a special direction given, in order that those hired earlier might see that all were paid alike.

Matthew 20:11 . Murmured , a strong word, more exactly, grumbled . The Greek word, the Latin murmur, and the English grumble, are all onomatopoetic. The tense is imperfect, describing the grumbling as in progress.

Matthew 20:12 . Have wrought but one hour . Spent is the meaning, rather than 'wrought'. The heat , the same word as in Luke 12:55 James 1:11 . The Rev. Ver. renders 'scorching heat' in this v. and Luke, and 'scorching wind' in James and puts 'hot wind' in the margin of Matthew and Luke. The word means 'burner', and is applied sometimes to burning heat in general, but more frequently in Septuagint to the burning east wind. (See Grimm.) The order of the words, 'the burden of the day and the scorching heat', ( kauson ), as well as the more frequent use in that sense, renders it likely that the hot wind is here intended. Mere heat is so common in Palestine that it would scarcely be worth remark: but the dry and scorching east wind is something terrible. Even in February (1871) this dry east wind, having come across the desert sands and lost all its moisture, in an hour so parched the mouth and nostrils as to make breathing painful and speech difficult. The position of the article in the Greek makes it impossible to render, 'the burden and heat of the day' (as in Tyn. and followers.)

Matthew 20:13-16 . Friend , or 'comrade,' a familiar and kindly term, as in Matthew 11:16 , Matthew 22:12 , Matthew 26:50 .

14. Take , take up , or 'take away.' They had received the pay, but perhaps had laid it down again, or stood holding it in the hand, unwilling to go off with it. I will give . The Rev. Ver., It is my will to give , conveys the meaning well. The Greek is expressed in English by 'will to' or 'wish to', (Matthew 15:32 , Matthew 16:24 , Matthew 19:17 ) according to the nature of the case; compare Matthew 20:15 , 1 Timothy 2:4 , 2 Peter 3:9 .

Matthew 20:15 . Is it not lawful , permissible. (See on Matthew 14:4 ) To do what I will with mine own? The Saviour here illustrates his sovereignty in the whole matter of rewarding his followers. Or, Is thine eye evil, here expresses jealousy and hate, (Mark 7:22 Deuteronomy 15:9 Proverbs 28:22 ) quite different from the meaning in Matthew 6:23 . 'Or' is in the correct Greek text.

Matthew 20:16 . The latter clause of this verse in the common Greek text, for many be (are) called, but few chosen, is wanting in leading early documents, and evidently brought in from Matthew 22:14 , where there is no variation in the reading. [1] Our Lord here repeats the saying of Matthew 19:30 , which he introduced the parable to illustrate. It is very natural that it should be repeated in a general form, without the restrictive 'many' of the first statement. Some able writers (Meyer, Weiss, others) urge that the parable and this statement teach that in the consummated Messianic kingdom all will have an equal reward. But this is inconsistent with the first statement, and with the distinct intimation of Matthew 19:28 f. that there will be difference of reward. The general thought of the parable is that the assignment of individual rewards will be a matter of divine sovereignty , precisely as in Matthew 20:23 Acts 1:7 . We have seen on Matthew 19:30 that this had a special application for the disciples, but as a general principle may be variously applied. It is very true, as some commentators urge, and it may be properly recalled here, that God will reward men more according to aim and spirit than to time spent or results achieved: but the Saviour does not here say that, or distinctly imply it.

[1] It is wanting in ‏ א ‎ B, L, Z, 86, Thebaic, Memphitic, and a codex of the Æthiopic. We see at once how it could be inserted, and can see no sufficient reason for its omission if originally present.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 20:23-26 . Salvation of the rich. (1) It is hard, Matthew 20:23 . (a) Many peculiar sins connected with wealth, in procuring, loving, using, retaining it. (b) Men find it difficult to withdraw the heart from wealth, (Matthew 6:21 ) and give it in supreme devotion to Christ (compare Matthew 20:21 f.); and without this there can be no salvation. (2) It is not only hard, but impossible, Matthew 20:24 , Matthew 20:26 ; yea, it is impossible for any man to be saved, through human wisdom, power, or goodness.

Matthew 20:23 . Euthym .: "If the rich man with difficulty, the covetous man not at all; for if he that does not give his own possessions is condemned, much more he that also grasps the possessions of others."

Matthew 20:25 . Who then can be saved? Henry : "Considering the many difficulties that are in the way of salvation, it is really strange that any are saved. 'When we think how good God is, it may seem a wonder that so few are his; but when we think how bad man is, it is more a wonder that so many are, and Christ will be eternally admired in them."

Matthew 20:27 . Forsaking all. The all may not be much, yet it is much to forsake all. Chrys .: "The forsaking was done for the sake of following, and the following was rendered easier by the forsaking."

Matthew 19:27-30 . Forsaking and receiving. (1) Christ's servant must actually forsake many things, and be willing to forsake all things, for the sake of him and his work. (2) The negative forsaking must be accompanied by positive following. (3) He shall receive incomparably more than he has forsaken both in time and in eternity. (4) The rewards received by different servants will be very different in degree, Matthew 19:28 . (5) But Christ himself must decide what each one's reward shall be, Matthew 19:30 , compare Matthew 20:1-16 ; we must make no claims and no complaints.

Matthew 20:28 . They who follow Jesus in this world shall reign with him in the better world.

Matthew 20:29 . Cyril : "He does not say that they shall have many fathers or mothers in place of one, or many fields in place of few, but that all the earthly things will be incomparably excelled by the heavenly, and the things that are saved will be more valuable than those that are lost."

Matthew 20:1-16 . The labourers in God's vineyard and their reward. (1) Unlike many human employers, God cares as much for the good of the workers as for the amount of work done. (2) God's service is not repose in a "Castle of Indolence," but hard work in a vineyard; self-denial and toil in promoting our own piety and that of others. (3) God will reward his workers richly in this life (Matthew 19:29 , compare Mark 10:30 ), and in the life to come. (Matthew 5:8 Matthew 19:21 , Matthew 19:28 ) (4) He will give to none less than he had promised (Matthew 20:13 ), but he will give to some much more than he had promised; he will give as a sovereign (Matthew 20:15 ), and his workers must recognize that he does all things well. (Matthew 20:16 , compare Matthew 19:30 )

Verses 17-28

Matthew 20:17-28 . Jesus Again Foretells His Death And Resurrection. Ambitious Request Of James And John

Found also in Mark 10:32-45 ; and (in part) in Luke 18:31-34 . This passage seems in Matthew, Mark, and Luke to follow immediately upon the foregoing matters, (Matthew 19:3 to Matthew 20:16 ) and to precede by only a few days the triumphal entry. (Matthew 21:1 ) The phrase 'going up', 'we go up to Jerusalem', does not prove that they had crossed the river, and were now ascending from its valley, as in Luke 19:28 . Since Jerusalem was reached by ascent both from east and west, it became customary to speak of 'going up' to Jerusalem from all parts of the country, 2 John 1:2; 2 John 1:22 John 1:2 :13 , John 5:1 , John 11:55 Acts 15:2 , Acts 25:1 Galatians 1:17 f.; Galatians 2:1 . It is after this that Jesus and his followers reach Jericho, Matthew 20:29 Mark 10:46 . The scene is somewhat more likely to have been in Perea, than between the river and Jericho, which was only a few miles; but the question cannot be determined, and does not affect the exegesis. This section contains two parts, Matthew 20:17-19 and Matthew 20:20-28

I. Matthew 20:17-19 . Jesus A Third Time Foretells His Death And Resurrection,

compare re and just after the Transfiguration, (Matthew 16:21 , Matthew 17:22 ) and at least six months earlier than this. We cannot judge whether he had spoken of it distinctly in the mean time, but there is in Luke 12:49 ff., an indication that his own mind had been all the while turning towards what awaited him, turning with a feeling of constraint and pressure, but not of grief or discouragement. Going up to Jerusalem . [1] What follows was said in the way , on the road. Mark 10:32 tells that his followers here meaning more than the Twelve, were 'amazed' and 'afraid' as they walked after him along the road, probably because of what he had said about the difficulty of saving the rich, (Matthew 19:23 ff.) and about the Messianic rewards for sacrifices in his service; (Matthew 19:28 ff.) perhaps also there was an absorbed and fixed look in the Master's face as he pressed on to his terrible baptism of suffering, that was new, and filled them with wonder and alarm. Took the twelve disciples apart , from the throng that were accompanying him to the Passover. (Matthew 20:29 Luke 18:36 ) Only the Twelve were in the least prepared to understand such predictions concerning the Messiah. Even at Jerusalem, some six months earlier, the people did not at all understand "Yet a little while am I with you, and I go unto him that sent me", John 7:33-36 , Rev. Ver. We go up to Jerusalem , etc. Origen remarks that Paul exactly imitated Christ when he went up to Jerusalem in full view of peril. Acts 21:10-13 . The prediction our Lord here gives is substantially the same as in Matthew 16:21 (See on "Matthew 16:21 "). Some new particulars are now added, as is natural in the nearer approach to the event, and when their minds have been somewhat prepared by the previous predictions. The Sanhedrin will formally condemn him to death ; and not only will he 'be delivered into the hands of men', as foretold on the second occasion (Matthew 17:22 , with Mark and Luke), but delivered to the Gentiles (Mark and Luke also), to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify; Mark and Luke add 'spit upon', and Luke generally that he shall be 'shamefully treated'. Tyndale, Cram, Gen., King James, all here render the same word, 'betrayed' in Matthew 16:18 and 'deliver' in Matthew 16:19 , a useless and misleading variation, compare on Matthew 17:22 , and Matthew 10:4 . Still, after this renewed and detailed prediction, the Twelve "understood none of these things ". (Luke 18:34 ) It was utterly contrary to all their ideas of Messiah and his work; these things could not be literally true of the king what did it all mean? Notice how Luke dwells upon their inability: "and this saying was hid from them, and they perceived not the things that were said." Compare on Matthew 16:21 . Hanna : "This only proves what a blinding power preconception and misconception have in hiding the simplest things told in the simplest language a blinding power often exercised over us now as to the written, as it was then exercised over the apostles as to their Master's spoken, words... They had made up their minds, on the best of evidence, that he was the Messiah. But they had their own notions of the Messiahship. With these, such sufferings and such a death as actually lay before Jesus were utterly inconsistent. His expressions, then, must be figurative, intended, perhaps, to represent some severe struggle with his adversaries, through which he had to pass before his kingdom was set up and acknowledged."

[1] Westcott Hort adopt the reading 'was about to go up', from B, one cursive, Memph., Theb., Pesh, Origen (three times). This might easily have been changed into 'was going up' by way of assimilation to Matthew 20:18 and to Mark and Luke, and so is probably correct. There is of course no substantial difference.

II. Matthew 20:20-28 . Ambitious Request Of The Mother Of James And John

Mark 10:35-45 . Luke does not give this, though parallel to Matt. and Mark, just before and just after; but he gives similar teaching on another occasion, Luke 22:24-30 . Mark represents James and John as themselves saying, in almost exactly identical words, what Matt. ascribes to their mother. The case is precisely like that of the centurion (see on "Matthew 8:5 ff."), and in accordance with the law maxim, "He who does a thing through another, does it himself." Our Lord so takes it, for he presently addresses the sons themselves as making the request. 'ye' Luke 22:22 f. Then came , does not necessarily (see on "Matthew 3:13 "), but does naturally indicate that this followed closely upon the preceding; Mark simply 'and', as in Matthew 19:13 . The request seems to have been made privately, when the other ten apostles were not present, Matthew 19:24 . The mother of Zebedee's children with her sons . Tyndale and followers rendered 'Zebedee's children', probably to avoid the immediate repetition of 'sons'; but the effect is to suggest that there were other children besides the sons. As to Zebedee and Salome, and their sons, see on Matthew 10:2 . We have no knowledge whether Zebedee was in the company, or was still living. It is clear that the mother here shares the ambition of her sons, and so it is not unlikely that from her it was inherited. If, as many suppose (see on "Matthew 27:56 "), she was the sister of the Saviour's mother, that would explain her boldness in personally approaching him and preferring so grave a request. Compare Bathsheba coming to David for Solomon, 1 Kings 1:11 ff. Worshipping him here evidently means paying homage as to a king, (compare on Matthew 2:2 ), for it is precisely as such that they approach him. 'Worshipping' and 'asking' are in the singular number, but it is implied that the sons united with her. A certain thing , or 'something,' Wyc., Rheims, Bib. Union, and so Meyer. Mark says they first wished him to promise that he would do whatsoever they should ask which was presumptuous indeed. Grant or command , that , for the Greek construction see on Matthew 5:29 . She is thinking of the two highest places in an earthly kingdom. Could not the solemn prediction of his death and resurrection which he had just before made correct their unspiritual conception? Nay, even after the death and resurrection had actually occurred, the Twelve retained the same expectation. (Acts 1:6 ) In fact the prediction seems on several other occasions also to have been immediately followed by a dispute as to greatness in the kingdom; see on "Matthew 18:1 ", and hereafter Matthew 26:2 . (Luke 22:24 ) They seem to have lost sight of the suffering and death, and fixed their minds only upon the thought that somehow or other the splendid Messianic kingdom was about to be established; compare Luke just afterward (Luke 19:11 ),"they supposed that the kingdom of God was immediately to appear." Our Lord had shortly before, (Matthew 19:28 ) perhaps the same day, spoken of himself as the Messiah who would 'in the regeneration sit on the throne of his glory', and had promised that the Twelve should then occupy 'twelve thrones'. Salome and her sons seem to have fastened upon that thought. Why not ask that her two sons may sit on the two chief thrones? To place the most distinguished persons on the right and left of a sovereign or presiding personage was common among the Greeks and Romans, as well as the Jews (Wet.), and is practiced among us at banquets, etc. As to the dignity of being on the right hand, compare Psalms 16:11 , Psalms 45:9 , Psalms 110:1 ; Mark 14:52 Acts 7:55 f., etc. Salome's two sons, with Peter, have already been treated with special distinction at the raising of Jairus' daughter and at the Transfiguration, and this might encourage their present high ambition. They had also shown a fiery and self-assertive nature in forbidding the man who followed not with them, (Mark 9:38 ) and in wishing to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritan village; (Luke 9:54 ) compare above on Matthew 10:2 .

Matthew 20:22 f. Our Lord treats the request as that of the sons themselves. Ye know not what ye ask. To ask that they might reign with him was asking that they might suffer with him; compare 2 Timothy 2:12 Revelation 3:21 Romans 8:17 . The cup that I shall drink, a familiar image for great suffering, as in Matthew 26:39 John 18:11 Psalms 75:8 Isaiah 51:17 Jeremiah 49:12 . Be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized , to be plunged in the same sufferings, compare Luke 12:50 , and see above on Matthew 3:6 . This comes from Mark 10:38 , and was added to Matthew here and in the next verse by many copies. [1] We are able. This was excessive self-confidence, but not mere arrogance. They were ignorant what the cup would contain, but sincere and resolute in their devotion, as they afterwards showed. Probably (Alexander) they thought of having to fight for the Messianic kingdom, and the ardent spirit of the "Sons of Thunder" would swell at the thought. Peter, the other of the three chosen disciples, made a like confident expression soon after, Luke 22:33 . Our Lord's reply is not severe, but kind. Drink indeed of my cup , the particle rendered 'truly' in Matthew 9:37 and there explained, indicating that this statement is placed in contrast with something to follow. Ye shall drink indeed of my cup,... but , etc. They were not appointed to suffer as profound mental anguish as the Master, nor would their suffering have any atoning character; but in his service James would die as the first apostolic martyr, (Acts 12:2 ) and John would as a living martyr suffer persecution, (Revelation 1:9 ) and sore trouble in conflict with error (Epistles of John). The legends that John was made to drink poison, and was plunged in boiling oil, are likely (Meyer) to have been suggested by this saying. Not mine to give . He thus lifts their minds away from the idea of a human sovereign bestowing earthly honours to that of divine gifts. He speaks of himself (compare John 14:28 ) as officially subordinate to the Father in his office as the God-man, the Mediator, in which he has derived all his authority and power from the Father, (Matthew 28:18 ) and will at length return it to him. (1 Corinthians 15:28 ) Compare Matthew 24:36 Mark 13:32 . The English word 'but' might here seem to mean 'except' "not mine to give except to those for whom it has been prepared," but the Greek word ( alla ) cannot have that sense. For whom it is prepared of my Father. All the arrangements of the Messianic kingdom have been already made by the Father, indeed made "from the foundation of the world," Matthew 25:34 , compare Acts 1:7 .

[1] It is here wanting (in both verses) in ‏ א ‎ B D L Z, two curstyes, Old Syriac, most copies of the Old Latin, Vulgate, Memph., Theb., Aeth.; and the difference between Matthew and Mark is expressly mentioned by Origen. Such an enlargement of one Gospel from another is extremely common.

Matthew 20:24 . When the ten heard it . They had not been present at the time, but heard, apparently soon after, what had occurred. Moved with indignation against the two brethren , not 'against' but concerning , about their whole course in the matter. Mark has the same expression. Their feeling is more easily accounted for from the fact mentioned by Matthew, that the request was made through Salome. Here was not only an ambitious attempt to gain the advantage over the rest, and to forestall matters by a promise in advance, but it may have seemed an unworthy thing to use a woman's plea; all the more if she was near of kin to the future sovereign. So near the end, and they are still thinking of a worldly kingdom, and full of selfish scheming and unkindness.

Matthew 20:25-28 . What a sorrowful task for the loving Saviour, to repress these ambitions and asperities. Called them unto him . The two may have been still with him, or all may have been summoned together. He refers to the fact that high places of authority and dominion belong to worldly kingdoms. It shall not be so among you , or more likely, not so it is among you . [1] Will be , or wishes to become; and so 'wishes to be.' For minister and servant , or more exactly 'bond servant' (Rev. Ver. margin), compare on Matthew 8:6 . Alas! how easily human ambition can use these very words and yet retain its own spirit. The "great ones" in a kingdom are called "ministers." Even the Christian "minister" will sometimes 'lord it' over his charge; (1 Peter 5:8 , same word as here) and the often arrogant despot in the Vatican calls himself "the servant of servants of the servants of God." Even as the Son of man (see on "Matthew 8:20 "), the Messiah himself did not come to enthrone himself in an earthly kingdom, with higher and lower officials to wait on him. How different from all this his life had been they knew; and he here declares that such was the purpose of his coming. Compare Luke 22:27 ; Philippians 2:5 ; Romans 15:8 . And now comes a phrase of the highest moment, such as the Saviour has not before employed. He has spoken repeatedly of his approaching death (Matthew 16:21 , Matthew 17:22 , Matthew 20:19 ; compare John 7:33 ), but now it is added that his death will be redeeming and vicarious, and that this was the design of his coming. Mark 10:45 has precisely the same expression. This remarkable statement must have been quite beyond the comprehension of the disciples, till afterwards brought to their remembrance by the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26 ) His life, compare on Matthew 16:25 . A ransom (Greek lutron ). The Greek verb ( luo ) means to loose, release, e. g., a prisoner, Acts 22:30 . (termination tron ) is the means or instrument of releasing, and this in the case of a captive is naturally a ransom. The word is often used in the classics and the Septuagint (Liddell and Scott, Cremer) to denote a ransom in money, and in corresponding figurative senses. So here Christ's life is given as 'a ransom,' serving to redeem men from captivity, from the power of sin and spiritual death. From this word lutron are formed the words translated in the New Testament 'redeem' and 'redemption'. Our English word ransom is the French rangon, contracted from the Latin redemptio , which we afterwards borrowed separately as redemption. The Old Latin and Vulgate here render redemptionem ; so Cranmer and Rheims, 'a redemption for many'. The preposition rendered 'for' ( anti ) necessarily means 'instead of,' involving substitution, a vicarious death. The preposition in Mark 14:24 and commonly employed by Paul in speaking of Christ's death for us (compare John 11:51 ) is huper , which means 'in behalf of,' 'for the benefit of,' and derivatively 'instead of' wherever the nature of the case suggests that idea, wherever performing an action for one's benefit involves performing it in his stead. This derivative use of huper is frequent enough in the classics, and that Paul often employs it to mean 'instead of' is beyond all reasonable question. When objectors urge that that is only a secondary meaning of huper , and require us to prove otherwise that Christ's death was vicarious, then it is well to remember that here (and so in Mark) the preposition is huper , which no one can possibly deny to have, and necessarily, the meaning 'instead of'; and in 1 Timothy 2:6 , while 'for' is huper , this same anti is prefixed to lutron , "who gave himself a substitutionary ransom for all." In Matthew 26:28 the preposition is peri , concerning. For many , Christ's atoning death made it compatible with the divine justice that all should be saved if they would accept it on that ground; and in that sense he "gave himself a ransom for all", (1 Timothy 2:6 ) "tasted death for every man", (Hebrews 2:9 ) compare 1 John 2:2 ; but his death was never expected, nor divinely designed, actually to secure the salvation of all, and so in the sense of specific purpose he came " to give his life a ransom for many ," Compare Matthew 26:28 Hebrews 9:28 Romans 5:15 , Romans 5:18 Isaiah 53:12 . Henry : "Sufficient for all, effectual for many." [2]

[1] Several of the best documents here, and still more in Mark, read esti , 'is', rather than estai , 'shall be'. It is difficult to decide, for the former corresponds to what precedes, and the latter to what follows.

[2] Here the "Western" documents, D, Old Syriac, most copies of Old Latin and some Latin Fathers, add (details varying): "But do you seek out of little to increase and out of greater to be less. And when you enter in and have been invited to dine, do not recline in the prominent places, lest a more honoured than thou come, and the host come and say to thee, Move still lower, and thou shalt be ashamed; but if thou recline in the inferior place, and there come one inferior to thee, the host will say to thee, Get up still higher, and this shall be useful to thee." The latter sentence is obviously a mere traditional corruption of Luke 14:8-11 . The former is likely enough based on a true saying of our Lord. For a collection of sayings ascribed to Jesus in early MSS. and Fathers, and not given in New Testament, see Westcott's "Introduction to Study of Gospels," App. C.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 20:18 . Origen: "It is not proper that we should always avoid perils, or always advance to meet them; one must be wise in Christ to determine."

Matthew 20:19 . Anonym.: "All the salvation of men lies in the death of Christ." Four discourses; Jesus predicting his passion (see on "Matthew 16:21 "); Jesus preparing for his passion (Luke 12:50 John 12:27 ff.; Gethsemane) Jesus enduring his passion (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, compare Hebrews 12:2 ) Jesus Looking back upon his passion. (Luke 24:26 , Luke 24:44-48 Revelation 1:18 )

Matthew 20:21 . ff. Chrys.: "Let no man be troubled at the apostles being in such an imperfect state. For not yet was the cross accomplished, not yet the grace of the Spirit given. But if thou wouldst learn their virtue, notice them after these things, and see what manner of men they became by grace."

Matthew 20:20 . f. Hall: "It is not discommendable in parents to seek the preferment of their children, so it be by lawful means, in a moderate measure. Oh, the madness of those parents that desire rather to leave their children great than good."

Matthew 20:22 . Ye know not what ye ask. (1) To ask for special qualities of mind and character may be asking for the usually attendant faults and weaknesses, and the consequent perils and distresses; poet, artist, orator, financier, beauty, wit, strength of will, passion, sanguine temperament. (2) To ask for worldly wealth and honour is asking for great toil and anxiety, asking to be envied and evil spoken of, asking often for disappointment and bitter sadness. (3) To ask even for eminent religious usefulness and reward is to ask for great suffering, Colossians 1:24 ; 1 Corinthians 11:28 ; Revelation 1:9 , Revelation 2:10 ; Romans 8:17 . Then let us always ask in subordination to God's will, 1 John 5:14 f. Aug.: "Give what thou bidst and bid what thou wilt." Henry: "We know not what we ask, when we ask for the glory of wearing the crown, and ask not for grace to bear the cross in our way to it."

Matthew 20:26 . Not so among you. (1) In worldly kingdoms ambition eagerly seeks for authority and dominion. (2) In Christ's kingdom the only greatness is usefulness, the only dominion is service. (3) Our King himself came to be a servant and a sacrifice. (4) Let these things be a check to religious ambition, and a cure for religious jealousy.

Verses 29-34

Matthew 20:29-34 . Two Blind Men Healed Near Jericho

Found also in Mark 10:46-52 Luke 18:35-43 . Our Lord and his disciples and the accompanying throng on the way to the Passover, had crossed the Jordan, and were within one day's journey of Jerusalem. They had probably crossed by a ferry-boat several miles higher up the river than the point opposite to Jericho. Such a ferry exists there now, and existed in that vicinity at an early day. (2 Samuel 19:18 ) The river just before the Passover must have been comparatively high and swift, and only the more adventurous of the multitude would attempt to ford. As to the Jordan, see on Luke 3:6 . Jericho, as flourishing and fortified with strong walls at the coming of the Israelites, and as destroyed by them, is well known from the Book of Joshua. The curse of Joshua (Joshua 6:26 ) was fulfilled against the man who rebuilt it, (1 Kings 16:34 ) and may have been regarded by some as exhausted in his case. The plain west of the Jordan is there some eight miles wide, the great fountain which bursts forth near the ancient site is so copious as to irrigate several square miles, there is another fountain northward and streams from the mountains lying west, while artificial irrigation from fountains higher up the valley could make all the lower plain richly productive. There were doubtless many dwellers in that plain at all periods. (2 Samuel 10:5 , 2 Kings 2:1-22 ; Nehemiah 7:36 ) In the time of the Maccabees, about B. C. 160, a Syrian general "repaired the fort in Jericho." ( 1 Maccabees 9:50 ) Pompey, B. C. 63, destroyed two forts that protected the entrance to Jericho. In speaking of this, Strabo (16, 2, 41) describes Jericho as a plain everywhere irrigated, filled with dwellings, abounding in the finest palm trees and other fruit trees, and says that here was "the paradise of balsam," a bush whose coagulated juice was highly valued as a medicine and the wood for its aroma, and which was found here only. The plain is so far below the level of the Mediterranean as to be extremely hot. Josephus says that linen clothes were worn at Jericho when there was snow in Jerusalem; and it may be added (from personal experience) that mosquitoes abound in the end of February. Accordingly the productions were tropical in character and in luxuriance. (Josephus "War," 4, 8, 3.) The Roman allies of Herod plundered the city in B. C. 39 ("War, "1, 15, 6), finding "the houses full of all sorts of good things."

The great revenues of Jericho, especially from the balsam, were presented by Antony to Cleopatra (Josephus "Ant.,"15, 4, 2), and at a later period made the chief revenue officer notably rich. (Luke 19:2 ) Herod built a fortified palace and a new town northward from the old site ("Ant.,"16, 5, 2), and died there ("Ant.," 17, 6, 5). Eusebius says of Jericho ("Onom."): "Which our Lord Jesus Christ thought worthy of his presence. But when it also was destroyed at the siege of Jerusalem on account of the unbelief of the inhabitants, there arose a third time another city which is shown even now. And of the two former also the traces are even now preserved. "We know not whether our Lord took any special interest in the fact that his own genealogy included Rahab of Jericho; (Matthew 1:5 ) but we may be sure he delighted in the well-watered and verdant plain, with the spring flowers and fruits." It was not the season of figs "on the Mount of Olives yet (Mark 11:13 R.V.), but they were ripening at Jericho. The juicy green almonds were delicious to the taste. The "rose plants in Jericho" (Ecclus Sirach 24:14 ) were famous through the land. Every sense was gratified to the utmost as he and his followers came up the successive terraces from the river into this magnificent plain. And yonder precipitous rock mountain that overhangs the city on the west, was it indeed the scene of that forty days' temptation which began the ministry now so soon to end?

Jesus spent the night at Jericho, and may have stayed there longer. Luke gives a deeply interesting account (Matthew 19:1-28 ) of Zaccheus, at whose house he abode, and of a parable he spoke to modify the supposition that "the kingdom of God was immediately to appear," which parable in an altered form will be repeated a few days later. (Matthew 25:14-30 )

As they departed from Jericho . So Mark. But Luke, (Luke 18:35 ) 'as he drew nigh unto Jericho.' This celebrated "discrepancy" has not been explained in a thoroughly satisfactory way. The older explanations are very poor: as that he healed one man in drawing near and two others in leaving, thus making three in all; or that Matthew has thrown together the two eases described by Mark and Luke; that Jesus tarried some days, and the healing occurred while he was going in and out of the city; that 'draw nigh' means simply to be near (which is not true), etc. Our choice at present must be between two possible views. (1) Calvin presents as his "conjecture," followed by Maldonatus, Bengel, Trench, Wordsworth, EIlicott, Hackett, Morison, that the blind man made his request as Jesus approached Jericho (Luke), but was not heeded, in order to develop his faith, as in Matthew 15:23 ff., and in the closely similar case Matthew 9:27 ff.; and that he renewed the application as Jesus was leaving Jericho, accompanied now by another, and they were healed. Then we understand that Luke, meaning to tell of Zaccheus and the parable and so pass on to the ascent to Jerusalem, (Luke 19:28 ) finishes the matter of the blind man in connection with his original application. Such prolepsis, or anticipation, is common in all histories. (2) Farrar quotes from Macknight the supposition, and Godet quotes it from a German periodical of 1870, that the healing occurred at a point between the old and the new city, and so could be described as occurring either when they went out from Jericho or as they drew near to Jericho. The same view presented itself independently on the spot a few years ago to Prof. H. H. Harris, D. D., of Richmond College, Va. [1] Each of these explanations seems laboured, but either is entirely possible. It will not do to say that the accounts are irreconcilable, and therefore involve inaccuracy, if the apparent conflict can be explained in any reasonable way. These discrepancies in the Gospels show the independence of the narratives, and their verisimilitude, and thus do not diminish but add to their historical credibility, provided there be any reasonable explanation. It may nowadays be affirmed that nearly every case has received satisfactory explanation. The present example, and a few others, would probably be plain enough if we knew some slight circumstances not mentioned; and may be fully cleared up hereafter, as some have been by the discoveries and researches of every recent generation. We must not nervously insist on the adequacy of our explanations in every case, nor arrogantly assume that the difficulty cannot be removed. A great multitude followed him . So also when he was approaching the city. (Luke.) They seem to have come with him from Perea, perhaps many of them from Galilee (compare on Matthew 19:1 ), en route for the Passover.

[1] Dr. Harris writes in a private letter, Richmond, Virginia, September, 1885: "Suppose Jesus spent a night as he would likely do in the city of his foremother Rahab, and that Zaceheus had his office in the Roman town and his residence in the West End. Now locate the healing at a bank on the roadside about half way between the ruins of the two cities, where a beggar might naturally sit. Matthew and Mark speak of it as when 'he went out from Jericho,' i.e. , the old city. But Luke, a Gentile or Hellenist, and writing to a Gentile, says 'as he drew nigh unto Jericho,' i.e. , the Roman town, and going on to tell about Zaecheus adds 'he entered and was passing through Jericho.'" Dr. Harris says he was not aware that this idea had been suggested by others.

Matthew 20:30 f. Two blind men . Luke 'a certain blind man,' and Mark gives his name, 'the son of Timeus, Bartimeus.' Here, as in Matthew 8:28 (See on "Matthew 8:28 "), we have to suppose that one of the two was more notable, and thus alone named by Mark and Luke. The supposition is somewhat difficult, but certainly by no means impossible, and on every account far more probable than that of a flat error. The balsam of Jericho was "a wonderful remedy for headache (neuralgia), and for incipient cataract, and dimness of vision." (Strabo 16, 2, 41.) But no balsam could open the blind eyes. Sitting by the wayside, Luke 'begging,' Mark 'a beggar.' Heard that Jesus was passing by, Mark and Luke 'Jesus of Nazareth,' a title by which the teacher and healer had doubtless been heard of throughout the land. Thou Son of David , so also Mark and Luke, meaning that he was the Messiah, compare On Matthew 9:27 , Matthew 15:22 , Matthew 22:42 . We cannot tell how they reached this conviction. As to their particular request, they had doubtless heard of his healing the blind elsewhere, perhaps of cases in Galilee, (Matthew 9:27 ) more likely of the man born blind healed at Jerusalem six months before. (John 9:1 ff.) The multitude rebuked them . Luke 'they that went before,' Mark simply 'many.' They were vexed that mere blind beggars should disturb a procession, and annoy the principal personage, from whom they may have been eagerly expecting further teaching. (Compare Matthew 19:13 ) Beggars in the East are almost always offensive and often disgusting, and it is hard to feel compassion for them, even when blind. Because , or, that they should , for the Greek construction see on Matthew 5:29 ; so also, that our eyes may be opened. Hold their peace, an old English phrase, the Greek being literally be silent . As they were needy and hopeful, opposition only stimulated a louder cry. The Greek word denotes a harsh cry, compare Matthew 8:29 , Matthew 9:27 , Matthew 15:23 , and Mark and Luke have the imperfect tense, describing a continued crying.

Matthew 20:32-34 . Called them . Mark gives vivid particulars; Jesus directed those near him to call; they spoke cheeringly; and Bartimeus, "casting away his garment, his loose outer garment, (See on Matthew 5:40 ), sprang up, and came to Jesus." We easily suppose that the other and less noticeable blind man followed. Jesus had compassion , see the Greek word explained on Matthew 9:36 . Touched their eyes , not mentioned by Mark or Luke, a sign to them that he was the healer, as in Matthew 9:29 . Mark and Luke relate that Jesus said, "thy faith hath made thee whole," saved thee, healed thee, as above in Matthew 9:22 , and compare Matthew 9:29 . And they followed him , Mark 'in the way,' Luke 'glorifying God.' They probably accompanied him to Jerusalem. Luke adds: "And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God."

(Compare Matthew 9:8 , Matthew 15:31 ) Jesus here shows no desire to prevent his miracles from becoming generally known, as he did in Matthew 9:30 and often. The crisis of his ministry is now near at hand, and publicity will make no difference.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 20:31 . And the multitude rebuked them. (1) Men sometimes despise, as unfit to be Christians, those whose case afterwards brings great glory to God. (2) Religious decorum must sometimes give way to intense earnestness. (3) Attempted hindrance becomes for earnest souls a stimulus to greater exertions. (4) Christ's followers may hinder when Christ himself stands ready to hear. Chrys.: "See how not poverty, not blindness, not their being unheard, not their being rebuked by the multitude, not anything else, impeded their exceeding earnestness." Augustine: "When any Christian has begun to live rightly, to be fervent in good works and despise the world, in the very novelty of his works he suffers blame and contradiction from frigid Christians. But if he perseveres, and overcomes them by endurance, and does not fail in good works, then they turn and begin to say, 'A great man, a holy man' like that crowd that were with the Lord."

Matthew 20:34 . The objects of Christ's compassion. (1) They were very needy. (2) They pleaded for pity. (3) They believed in his mission. (4) They persevered and grew more earnest. (5) They knew just what they wanted. (6) They followed him in gratitude and devotion.

Bibliographical Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 20". "Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jbm/matthew-20.html. 1886.
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