Wednesday Night Bible Survey

February 8, 1995

Matthew 20-21

Matthew 20

:1-16  Laborers in the Vineyard

Note:  Jesus doesn't give us an interpretation, He leaves that up to the disciples.

Keep in mind the context.

Peter has been asking about what kinds of rewards and position that he and the others are going to get in heaven.

:15  Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

Matthew 20:15-NIV Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'

Lessons and implications

1.  Many are called

Many people are called into God's fields to work.

Apparently, not all respond.

Otherwise the master wouldn't have to keep inviting other to the fields.

2.  Some work longer.

Some are called to follow Jesus at an early age.

Some are grown up when they hear Jesus' call.

Some are on their death-beds.

3.  Don't resent the latecomers.

Those who work longer shouldn't be upset at the newcomers.

Those who follow Jesus from their youth shouldn't be bummed out because someone accepts Jesus on their deathbed.

Hey, they have eternal life!  That's what's important.

4.  God keeps His word.

He gave to each laborer whatever was agreed upon.

5.  Equal wages

All who serve Jesus will get the same penny.

What aspect of God's wages are equal across the board?

The penny is eternal life.

6.  The Master is the master (vs.15).

God is God.  He can do whatever He wants to do.

7.  This doesn't nullify rewards in heaven.

The point of this parable is to show the aspect of God giving eternal life too all who respond.

We learn more about rewards in other Scriptures.

:17-19  Another warning

:17  going up to Jerusalem

You'll find this phrase used a lot in the Bible.

We think of up and down in terms of a map, up being north and down being south.

But the people in this day thought of it as literally up and down.

Jerusalem was on a hill, and you had to go up to get to it.

Jesus is actually traveling south to Jerusalem, but He will have to climb the hill, or mountain to get up to the city.

In the Psalms, there are a series of songs called the "Songs of Ascents".  These merely refer to songs that were sung by the caravans of people who came to Jerusalem for the various Jewish Feasts, as they climbed up the hill to the city.

:19  and the third day he shall rise again

Note all the times that Jesus has been warning the disciples about the specific events that He and they would be facing.

Isn't it amazing that the disciples were so surprised at the resurrection?

:20-28  Great Servants

:20  the mother ...

A very good Jewish mother indeed, looking out for the welfare of her sons.

:20  Zebedee's children

Who were the two "sons of Zebedee"?

James and John.

Also known as "sons of thunder", apparently describing their level of patience and understanding.

Mark 3:17-AV And James the [son] of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

:22  drink of the cup ... baptized with the baptism

Jesus is talking of the ordeal He would face in His death.

:23  not mine to give ... of my Father

Here we see a glimpse of Jesus' relationship with God the Father.

Jesus was in subjection to the Father.

This was one of the issues that the Father had control over.

:23  Ye shall drink indeed of my cup

Jesus is saying, "You're sure right you'll drink My cup".

James was the first apostle to die a martyr's death, by the sword by Herod.

John was tortured, even thrown into boiling oil.

:24  the ten ... indignation

They were upset because it looked like James and John are trying to secretly get favors from the boss.

Ever experience something like this at work?  Where someone is trying to kiss up to the boss and get next in line for a promotion?

Jesus is going to lay out for all of them what the keys to getting ahead in His business are.

:27  chief ... servant

In God's business, the way to get ahead is not by stepping on people, the way is by serving them.

Do you see people as people as things to use, or as people who need help?


Try for the top, be a servant

With a servant, no job is too menial.

Jobs are simply things that need to get done, no matter how trivial or gross they are.

In a way, all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus should be on the Helping Hands ministry list.

:28  Even as the Son of man

If you're still having a hard time with this, you don't need to go any further than Jesus.

Was Jesus having a great time sitting behind His desk bossing people around?

He was out touching, healing, and teaching the people.

It's not that we have to be involved in doing everything ourselves.

Even Jesus delegated His ministry to His disciples.

But the lesson is that we shouldn't refuse to do something simply because we've risen too high, because we're too important to do such lowly stuff.

:29-34  Healing the blind men

:29  departed from Jericho

Jesus is still on His way to Jerusalem, having passed through the Jordan valley.

He now has come through Jericho, and begins the long climb, going  up the mountain to Jerusalem.

:34  Jesus had compassion on them


1) to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion,   have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of   love and pity)

This is a word that carries kind of a deep, moving sentiment with it.

What a great example Jesus gives of the previous section.

Everybody else is rebuking these men for getting in Jesus' way.

But Jesus isn't bothered by them.

They aren't "beneath" Him.

He just sees their need.

And He ministers to them.


1.  Love the unloved

2.  Be discerning.

Question:  Should we reach out to every street person that comes to us and invite them to stay in our house with us?

The church in Thessalonica had a problem where there were these people who would come through from church to church, claiming to be prophets, and living off the giving nature of the church.

Paul said not to give to them:

2Thessalonians 3:10-AV For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

Matthew 21

:1-11  The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

:1  Bethphage

Or, "House of Figs"

A village on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, located on the Mount of Olives, thought to be between Jerusalem and Bethany.

It's location is unknown, it's remains haven't been found yet.

:3  and straightway he will send them

I find it fascinating that Jesus knows of these animals, and that their owner will willingly allow them to go with these strangers, only on their word that it is for "the Lord".

:5  Tell ye the daughter of Sion ...

This is quoting from the prophet Zachariah:

Zechariah 9:9-AV Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

:5  meek, and sitting upon an ass

What a contrast with how an earthly king would arrive at his capital!

An earthly king would be arriving on a huge white horse, or a chariot pulled by many horses.

Yet Jesus is the picture of humility.

:9  the multitudes that went before ... cried

Think about what these same multitudes will be crying within a week, "Crucify Him".

Crowds can be fickle things.


Be careful about the desire for popularity.

One moment the crowd might hail you as a king, the next moment they'll be booing you out of the stadium.

:9  Hosanna

This is a Hebrew word that the crowd is shouting.

We often think of this as a kind of "worship" word, as if it means something like "praise the Lord".

It is actually a direct quote from the Psalms, which translates the word:

Psalms 118:25-26AV Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.  26 Blessed [be] he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.

This Psalm has a very interesting prophetic significance, but I think we'll save it for Luke 19.

Hosanna means, "Save now, I beseech thee"


What did the crowds mean by "Hosanna"?

They were probably crying out for Jesus to deliver them from the Roman occupation.

But ironically, Jesus did provide salvation, real salvation, for eternity, from sin.

Is it wrong to sing "hosanna" in worship?

No, it's our crying out to God for deliverance, not just from sin, but from whatever oppression we might be under at the moment.

:9  to the son of David

This is a kingly title.

This is a Messianic Title.

It is the family of David that has the rights to the throne in Israel.

:12-17  House Cleaning

:12  moneychangers

The Jews had come up with a pretty nice little scheme.

All good Jewish people paid the "temple tax", which was a half-shekel every year.

This was to pay for the upkeep of the temple.

But since the temple was holy, they reasoned that the tax had to be paid in holy Jewish currency, not in Roman or Greek currency.

So, the money changers sprang up in the temple, who would gladly exchange any foreign currency to the Jewish half-shekel, but for a price of course.

I just found out about something I missed when we were in the end of Matthew 17.

When they came to Peter and asked if he and Jesus paid their taxes (vs.24)

The taxes they were asking for was the temple tax.

When Jesus made the point that the children of a king didn't have to pay taxes, He was referring to the fact that He was God's Son, and shouldn't have to pay taxes on the upkeep of His Father's house.  But in order not to offend, He did anyway.

:12  them that sold doves

Another racket that was going on in the temple had to do with animals sold for sacrifices.

We are told in Leviticus that any animal given in sacrifice had to be without blemish.

So, the priests, in collusion with these sellers, would conveniently find blemishes in any animal that wasn't sold from the temple vendors.

That way, the temple vendors had a monopoly on the market, and could charge way more than for average animals.

The mention of doves refers to the poor man's sacrifice.

If you were too poor to sacrifice a sheep or goat, you could sacrifice doves.

This was God's way of showing that it wasn't a matter of money to cover your sins, it was a matter of blood sacrifice.

Yet here we find the rip-off artists plying their trade even on the poor of the land.

Should the church ever be in the business of selling things?

Some would say no.  That's okay.  It's probably the safest approach.

I think that it's okay up to a point.

As long as it's being done as a service to the body, and not a way of making money off of them, I don't see the harm.

:13  house of prayer ... den of thieves

Jesus is actually quoting from the Old Testament prophets.

He has Biblical reasons for doing what He's done in the temple.

Isaiah 56:7-AV Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Jeremiah 7:11-AV Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen [it], saith the LORD.

:14  blind lame ... healed them

In contrast with the merchandising going on, taking advantage of the lowest, poorest peoples, Jesus is in the business of healing them.

:16  out of the mouth of babes

Jesus again is quoting the Old Testament:

Psalms 8:2-AV Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

:16  thou hast perfected praise

It seems to me that some of the most perfect praise comes from our little ones!

I think Jesus may be a little sarcastic here to the chief priests.

After all, shouldn't they be praising their Messiah too?

:17  Bethany

A little town located 1.5 miles southwest of Jerusalem.

:18-22  Cursing the Fig Tree

:19  he found nothing thereon

This was springtime.

The early figs start in spring before the leaves and develop after the leaves. The main fig crop was early autumn (#Mr 11:14|). There should have been figs on the tree with the crop of leaves.

:21  if ye shall say unto this mountain

Keep in mind where they are.

They are just outside Jerusalem.

The mountain has to be the one that Jerusalem is sitting upon.


:22  ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive

Look at another passage with some amazing parallels

John  15:1-8. I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5  I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. 7  If ye

abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.


1.  God expects fruit!

It might look as if Jesus is just in a bad mood at first.

But there is a real principle here!

God expects fruit in those who claim to follow Him.

If you claim to follow Jesus, God wants your life to be a visible testimony to others around you that God is real, God is powerful, and God loves them!

2.  Prayer requires faith & God's Word in you

We need to keep the entire picture in view.

The "faith" teachers lead us to believe that as long as you have this magical thing they call "faith", then you can twist God's arm into giving you anything you ask for.

The balance that we need to be abiding in God's Word, and having it in us.

We need to be asking according to God's wishes and desires.

We need to also learn to ask by faith.

When we come to understanding that a certain thing is God's will, then we need to pray as if we already see it, as if we have already received it.

 Hebrews 11:1-AV Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.