Saturday, September 25, 2010

Give Me!... Please?

Matthew 20

v. 26b-28: …whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.

Observation: The early laborers to the vineyard had—they had a denarius, they had had a full day’s work—but they wanted more in comparison to the other workers (v. 12). James and John had—they had front row seats to Jesus, they had an eternal kingdom ahead—but they wanted more in comparison to the other disciples (v. 20-24). The blind men had—they had life and were somehow getting by—but they wanted more. They wanted their sight.

In the middle of everyone’s desire for what they didn’t have, Jesus foretold His betrayal, abuse, and death. He was painfully clear about who would be involved and what would happen, but there is no recorded response. The text seems to beg, “Really, Jesus? Are you sure you have that right? You must be mistaken.” There was no recognition of His gift; of His deity; of His lovingkindness from those who surrounded him daily.

Looking more closely at those who wanted more, the laborers felt entitled. They had worked longer. They “grumbled at the landowner.” (v. 11). Good thing I never grumble.

James and John appear to have recruited their mother to help ask Jesus for special treatment. They said, “we are able” to do whatever is asked in exchange for the honor of sitting at your right and left hand. The workers and disciples felt entitled to special treatment from God. Their words and actions reveal that, because of their labor, God was now under obligation to treat them accordingly.

But God is not under obligation to any man. He is God. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (v. 15).

The blind men, on the other hand, cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” They recognized that Jesus may or may not grant their request. They had nothing to offer in return. God’s mercy would be extended or withheld at the discretion of the Master. It was not in the getting that they recognized Jesus’ lordship, it was already His. They laid their pitiful voices and humility at the feet of Jesus. And He healed them.

Application: How do I come to Jesus? Do I come expecting to receive more in comparison to others because of some special service or sacrifice? Or do I recognize Him for who He is—the Son of Man, the representative of man, the gift given to redeem man? When I demand more, when I grumble, when I expect better treatment do I stop to look at Jesus? The One who was delivered to the chief priests and scribes who condemned him to death? Who was then handed Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify? And who, on the third day, was raised up? (v. 18-19).

What did I want again? I think I just forgot.

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