-Jesus relates yet another parable to instruct on what the Kingdom of Heaven is like here at the beginning of this chapter. It is like a labor situation where the helpers are called at various parts of the day with each one agreeing to go and work the field but at different times and with different workloads. The same wage is generously given at the end of the day to those who came in late when asked and beckoned. However, this caused jealousy and envy with those who had carried the burden in the scorching heat of the day. The owner (God) has the right to do what He wishes with His own and we should not be envious when He is generous. *Application* Often times the inequity we perceive may be the generosity of one rather than unfairness. When we agree to do the work the Lord has sent us out to do, the worst thing we can do is become complainers and envious of others (Philippians 2:14). The last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20:16).
-Now on the final approach to Jerusalem Jesus again prepares His disciples for what is about to happen. He prophecies, specifically to His 12 disciples who He takes aside privately, His deliverance into the hands of the chief priests, scribes, and the Gentiles for condemnation, mocking, spitting on, scourging, and death on the cross. He also predicted His resurrection on the third day. The disciples understood none of these things as to what they meant because it was hidden from them. Their comprehension was simply not there (Luke 18:34). *Application* Sometimes the truth is right before us and we let it pass us by without understanding. Ask the Lord to open your eyes and hears to the truths that He is trying to communicate to you each and every day. Later, after these events of Christ’s passion and as these apostles reflected with the Holy Spirit breathing understanding and revelation on them (2 Peter 1:21), they wrote of this occurrence with complete knowledge. Only through His Spirit can we comprehend the things of God. He is the One who brings clarity to any situation.
-James and John, with the help of their mom as Matthew indicates, make a request of the King of kings to sit at His Right Hand in the coming Kingdom. At this time they probably were actually thinking of an earthly Kingdom as well as the Heavenly One. For them the future was unclear at this point and their understanding was darkened. Jesus takes the opportunity to do further teaching on servitude and what it really takes to be great in the eyes of God. A couple of things we should take note of here in the text. First, Jesus pointedly asked them if they would be willing to drink of the same cup, or be baptized (immersed), with which He was about to drink. *Application* When Jesus tells us to take up our own cross, He is being quite literal and expects us to endure the same type or types of persecution He also endured (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). James would be killed in Jerusalem for the gospel’s sake under cruel hands (Acts 12:1-2) and John would live a long life fraught with danger and imprisonments for the sake of Christ Jesus his Lord (Revelation 1:9). They followed through on their word and remained faithful to the call no matter what the cost. So should we.
-The manner in which we lead is important. Jesus taught His disciples that they were not to lead in the manner of the world (Gentiles, great men of the earth). Instead, they were to lead as servants from the bottom up. Jesus makes the fact clear that this was His chosen method of leadership and He expected the same from His followers. “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave (doulos, Matthew 20:27, Mark 10:44).” *Application* Jesus came to serve, not to be served with selfish adulation and neither should we. This request for authority made the other disciples indignant and it is interesting that Jesus did not rebuke them for their ire. We see the extent of Christ’s sacrifice delineated here as He teaches. He gives us example demonstrating obedience to the Father in all things pertaining to authority and gives up His rights without question or complaint. This is intended for us as well as the disciples we read about here. Are you frustrated with the place God has chosen for you in this world? Could this possibly be a test to see where your heart is and how much you have come into conformity to His will rather than your own? We must humbly submit to His authority in our lives and serve others with a pure heart if we are to be “great” in the Kingdom of God. This is the way of the LORD and it behooves us to accept it.
-Now leaving Jericho, which is near the Jordan River Valley just north of the Dead Sea, Jesus encounters a blind man named Bartimaeus, and another blind man as Matthew points out, as a large crowd was following Him. They were persistent and undeterred by the stern warning from the crowd to shut it up with their praise of recognition (calling Him the Son of David) and requests for mercy. Jesus was moved with compassion for them and asks the question, “What do you want Me to do for you (Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:51, Luke 18:41)?” The answer should have been obvious, but the matter of being specific is emphasized here. *Application* Often the Lord wants us to absolutely specific in what we ask for. We have not many times because we ask not and with the wrong motives (James 1:5; 4:2-3). His Spirit will let you know when to ask specifically just as Jesus physically asked the question to Bartimaeus. Also, it is good practice to make people who are asking for prayer from you to be specific. You want them to identify their needs to you so that you know exactly how to pray. This is a communication issue and the Lord directs us here to be clear in it.
-Jesus heals them because of their faith we find out in the text (Mark 10:52, Luke 18:42). This caused quite a stir as you can imagine as the men and the crowd became excited and glorified the Lord! *Application* The Lord is still in the business of performing miracles today when He finds faith and specific requests. Go to the Lord and persistently cry out for His mercy and goodness on all of your needs. He will supply according to His riches in Heaven (Philippians 4:19).
Verses to Memorize: Matthew 20:15, 18-19, 28