Matthew 20

The parable of the householder and the laborers. Verses 1-16.


Describe briefly what actually happened.


This parable is really an amplification of the Lord’s answer to Peter’s question in Chapter 19:27, “What shall we have, therefore?”


In the context of Chapter 19 the Lord told Peter that the disciples would sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Verse 28.


In Verse 29 “all” who have sacrificed houses, lands, friends, and family for Christ’s sake will be rewarded   one hundredfold.


Then in Verse 30 the Lord adds a rider “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

This parable in Chapter 20 is the explanation of this profound statement.


There are several lessons here for our admonition.

(1) The place of prominence goes to the lowliest---“the last shall be first.” Verse 30 and Verse 16.

(2) God is sovereign. Verse 15 “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to Me.”


God’s judgment and His subsequent reward is not according to length of service or even according to the work performed. Much activity can be inspired by pride and selfish ambition. First, maybe in man’s estimation, but last in God’s.


On the other hand, ones service can be obscure, hidden from the eyes of men, yet performed in love and gratitude to God and Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Such service may be last in man’s estimation, but first in God’s.


At the day of manifestation every man will be rewarded for his work according to its character, and not for the amount of time put in.


Jesus did not live long but He lived deep. In His 3 ½ years of public service He accomplished more than any other man who had served a lifetime. See Acts 2:36. Raised up, made Lord and Christ. Last, so far as man was concerned, but first in God’s reckoning.


John the Baptist and Murry McCheyne are other examples.


Verses 17-19 Jesus predicts, for the third time His death and resurrection. The ministry of Jesus was relentlessly taking Him toward the Cross. John 12:27-28 Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? As they journeyed to Jerusalem, the Lord separated His disciples from the multitude and informed them, for the third time, that at the end of the road, there was a cross---not a visible, glorious kingdom.


It had been announced, in Gen 3:15, that Satan would “bruise His heel.” The shadow of the cross hung over the Lord from the time He was born. Isaiah 50:7-- Flint. Luke 9:51--Steadfastly. Note the accuracy of Christ’s prediction. He would be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes. Judas betrayed Him. Jewish leaders would condemn Him to death.


Since they did not have the authority to inflict capital punishment, they would turn Him over to the Gentiles = Romans. He would be mocked, scourged, and crucified by them.


But death would not be able to keep its prey--He would be raised on the third day. Despite the three references to His death, Matthew 16:21-23, 17:22-23, and in this passage, the disciples failed to believe literally what Jesus was saying.


The request of the mother of James and John. Verses 20-28.


The following incident is a sad reflection on the baseness of human nature. “A man of sorrows” etc. It is interesting to note that on each occasion that the Lord mentioned His passion, there were immediate reactions from the disciples.

(1) In Chapter 16 after the Lord’s first prediction of His suffering, Peter took Him and rebuked Him, saying, “Be it far from Thee Lord; this shall not happen to Thee.”

(2) The second prediction was soon followed with the question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:1.

(3) The third prediction brought James, John and their mother to Jesus with the request that they should receive the most important posts in the kingdom.

In each case they were thinking more of their own glory than of Christ’s sufferings. How insensitive they were to revealed truth.


Verse 22 Jesus replied in this verse to the request of verse 21 “Ye know not what you ask.” The cup and the baptism are described in Verses 18-19. The cup of hatred and scorn culminating in total rejection. The baptism was the baptism of death at the hands of godless men. Jesus then asked them, “Are you able to drink this cup and endure this baptism?” They answered, “We are able.”


Verse 23 Jesus said to them, “You shall indeed drink of My cup and be baptized with My baptism.” James suffered a martyr’s death. John lived a martyr’s life and died a martyr’s death.


The Lord adds a very significant thing, He says that positions in the kingdom are determined by the Father.


Verse 24 The other ten disciples were furious when they heard of James and John’s request. Maybe the cause of their anger was because they themselves wanted to be the greatest.


Verse 25 The Lord contrasted the worldly system with the spiritual. The Lord said, “In the Gentile world, greatness is linked to power, prominence, authority and rule. But in the spiritual kingdom greatness is linked to humility-service-and becoming a servant. Verse 26.


Verse 27 Those then that “would be chief among you, let him be your servant.”


Verse 28 The Lord Himself is the perfect example   of this truth. Notice the words “Serve” and “give.” Examples--Moses “The meekest man in all the earth.” Epaphroditus See Philippians 2:25-29. Contrast Diotrephes. 3 John 9 “Who loveth to have the preeminence among you.”


The healing of two blind men. Verses 30-34.


As Jesus and His followers were leaving Jericho, they were surrounded by a huge crowd. Two blind men who were begging by the wayside heard Him come. They cried, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Thou Son of David.”


These men had some spiritual insight and recognized Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. Their faith was rewarded, in that, the Lord gave them their sight.


“And they followed Him.”


The account of Mark and Luke differs from Matthew’s account. Mark mentioned only one blind man whose name was Bartimaeus. Matthew mentions two---Bartimaeus was the spokesman for the two.


In Matthew and Mark, the incident is said to have occurred as Jesus left Jericho. In Luke, it is said to have happened as He drew near to the city. The simplest explanation is that there were two Jericho’s. The O.T. Jericho---and the new Jericho, which Herod the Great had built. The miracle of healing took place as Jesus was leaving one city and entering the other.