Jesus’ explanation about how to get ahead in His upside-down kingdom is dizzying.
- V1-16 – Don’t forget this parable is in response to Peter’s “What do we get?” (19:27)
- V1 – Another analogy to help us understand a little more about God’s kingdom.
- V2 – This is a typical, fair wage.
- V6-7 – The weren’t working, but at least they were still looking for work, even though it was late in the day.
- V10-12 – I have to admit, I’ve always felt that this was a valid argument. Then again, I’ve also always related to the older brother of the prodigal son. I guess I need to work on my grace and generosity.
- V13-15 – This is a genius answer. He’s highlighting that the kingdom of heaven isn’t about “fairness.” The “fair” thing to do would be to make us all pay for our sin, but that’s not what happened.
◊ Am I grateful and content?
- V16 – In this case, the last were first because all but the very first received more than they deserved. When He said it before (19:30), He may have been referring to the disciples who were not picked by other rabbis to study Scripture and live a “religious” life, but who end up with the “keys to heaven” (16:19), judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Or, He may have been trying to warn Peter that rather than being concerned about what he’s going to “get out of it” (18:27), he should worry about himself last and the salvation of others first so that his reward in Heaven will be great.
◊ Do I side with the argument of the early workers or do I rejoice that those who come late to God’s kingdom get to share in the generosity that God showed me? Am I allowing jealousy or pettiness to harden my heart towards God’s children?
- V17-19 – Every time He says this (this is the third time), He gets more specific about the details. This time He confirms the information while they’re literally on their way to the city where it will all take place. For us with hindsight, it’s a vivid picture to show that this was part of God’s plan. For the disciples, it was apparently going in one ear and out the other or it was too traumatic for them to process.
◊ Am I confident that God is working out His plan in my life, my church, and even on earth? Do I doubt God’s control and sovereignty?
- V20-21 – I’m trying to decide if James and John put their mom up to this or if they were a little embarrassed that she came and asked Jesus for this. These guys are quite the characters. Jesus calls them the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), they offered to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), and they’re two of Jesus’ best friends (Matthew 17:1). You’ve got to wonder if the arguments about who’s the greatest (18:1) originated with them and now they’re trying to pull a fast one on the other disciples by pulling their mom into the argument. I’d like to have seen the look on the other disciples’ faces at this. Those were the two places of honor.
◊ Am I trying to get to the top in God’s kingdom? Do I even know where the top is? In God’s kingdom should I be trying to take glory away from God? (Lucifer did that and things turned out very badly for him.)
- V22 – He just told them what “the cup” was full of (v17-19). I wonder if they remembered or made that connection.
- V23 – The note in my ESV Bible says “James became the first apostolic martyr (Acts 12:2) and John suffered persecution and exile (Rev. 1:9). They must submit to the Father’s will for their future, just as Jesus does.”
- V24 – There seems to be growing disunity among the disciples as they draw closer to the time when Jesus needs them to be unified the most.
◊ I’ve experienced rifts in relationships among fellow Christians several times when the body of Christ was advancing God’s kingdom in our area. When this happens do I desperately pray that God would protect us from Satan’s attempts to sabotage our fruitfulness?
- V25-27 – This is a major upside-down kingdom moment. In God’s kingdom, leadership doesn’t mean authority to make people do whatever you want, but instead means you must be a servant to those you’re leading. He has already told them about His backward kingdom twice before (19:30, 20:16); this time He’s explicitly clear about what He means.
◊ Do I seek to serve others in God’s kingdom? If others follow me into service, I’ll be a leader. If I direct attention to myself, I’m pulling their attention away from God.
- V28 – Jesus has been a great example of this. His leadership of people has come through compassion and service.
- V28 – “Give His life…” – Another reference to His death and why He must die.
◊ Thank You Jesus!
- V29-34 – Here is a quick example of service after a lesson on service.
◊ Do I practice what I preach?
- V29 – There’s still a great crowd. They just had a semi-private moment (v17) but it didn’t last long.
- V30 – They are confident Jesus can help them and they acknowledge Jesus as king and Messiah (Son of David).
◊ Do I share their confidence?
- V31 – Since Jesus is known for healing, it’s crazy the crowd didn’t just help the blind men get to Jesus.
◊ Do I consider myself more worthy of God’s attention and assistance than others?
- V34 – The ESV note says “In the face of rejection by his own people, and impending betrayal as he enters Jerusalem, Jesus continues to show compassion for those in great need.”
◊ After we experience healing, we must follow in obedience. Am I grateful for the healing God has done in me?
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?