For an introduction to this series, click here.
Dec. 30, 2006
This chapter starts out with a very strange story. Jesus tells the story of a man who went out and hired workers for the day. He hired them for a denarius, which we discussed a couple of days ago. When he needed more workers, he went out at 9:00, noon, 3:00 and then at 5:00. The people he hired last only worked one hour. At the end of the day, he paid everybody a denarius. The people who worked all day were outraged. But the man said they agreed to work for a denarius, and it wasn't their business what he paid the other workers. The man was insulted that the workers who worked all day were angry because he was generous to the workers who couldn't find work all day.
This parable was aimed primarily at the Pharisees again. They were so proud of their accomplishments for God. They were the people who worked all day. When they saw that those who worked less got a denarius, they thought they would get more. They were so busy comparing themselves to those other people who did less that they forgot about their agreement. We always overestimate our own goodness while easily seeing the flaws in others. I know I often wonder why other people who are obviously not as committed or experienced or smart as I am get recognition or promotions or whatever. This passage is a reminder for us to be the person God wants us to be and not worry about other people, as hard as that may be.
Next we have the story of James' and John's mother asking for the seats of honor in the kingdom. John doesn't mention this story in his gospel, probably because he was embarrassed by the whole thing. Anyway, their mom came up to Jesus and asked if her two sons could sit on either side of Jesus in the Kingdom. Jesus gave a very judicious answer, saying that those places were not His to give, that the Father would choose those places. Then Jesus tells them what kind of person will get those seats:
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."(20:25-28, ESV)
The last section of the chapter is the story of two blind men being healed. This story is very similar to the account in other gospels of Bartimaeus, except that there are two men. I think I remember reading one time when I was in college about the differences between these two stories, but I can't remember them now. I wish real life was as easy as college. All you have to do is learn and study and make enough money to survive, and you don't really need that much. Anyway, this is another example of Jesus acting like He wasn't interested in healing someone, but when they persisted He stopped and healed them. Jesus always responded when someone demonstrated faith in Him.