October 15, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Wednesday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 127, 130, 2 Kings 4:25-37, 1 Tim.5:1-16
Evening – Psalm 135, Ecc. 2:18, Mt. 20:17

Commentary, Matthew 20:17-34

Matthew 20:17 is a turning point in the Gospel.  Here Jesus begins His final journey into Jerusalem.  On the way He tells His disciples what is going to happen there.  He will be betrayed, condemned, and given to the Gentiles for crucifixion (20:18 and 19).  Our Saviour knew well what lay ahead of Him, and He intentionally went to the cross.  He truly gave Himself for our sins.  He could have avoided Jerusalem.  He could have left Israel and lived safely in another country.  Even on the cross He could have easily come down and saved Himself.  But the point Matthew is making in this passage is that He did not.  He knew what was going to happen, and He gave Himself to it.  As He said in John 10:17 and 18, “I lay down my life.” “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.”  Truly, as He said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this.”

In verse 20 the mother of James and John comes to Jesus asking that her sons be seated at the right and left hand of Christ in His Kingdom.  She probably believes Jesus is going into Jerusalem to organize an army and cast out the Romans.  She believes He is going to establish Israel as the ruler of the world so the Jews can live in peace and prosperity forever.  She wants her sons to have preeminence in that kingdom, which will also ensure her own wealth and position.

Jesus asks them if they can drink His cup and endure His baptism.  He refers to the crucifixion that awaits Him. James and John do not understand His meaning, yet they quickly assure Him that they are able.  Christ tells them they will indeed drink and bear His cup and baptism.  Indeed, all the apostles died horrible deaths, except John, and he probably almost died during his imprisonment on Patmos.  James is thought to be the first Apostle to die in Christ’s service.

In verse 25 Jesus teaches them about greatness in His Kingdom.  Greatness does not consist of power, wealth, and privilege, as in the Roman Empire.  It consists of humility, and serving others as a slave serves his master.  In verse 26, Christ literally says whosoever will be great among you, let him be your slave.  He uses Himself as an example, saying even He, God in the flesh, came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

In verse 29 Jesus has crossed the Jordan River at Jericho and is in Judea on the road to Jerusalem. A crowd has gathered around Him, and, beside the road two voices are raised asking Him to have mercy.  It is interesting that these blind men “see” something the Pharisees miss.  They “see” that Jesus is the Son of David.  They are calling Him by a Messianic title.  They are saying He is the Son of David promised in the law and prophets. Remember that one of Matthew’s intentions is to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  Being called Son of David by these men is one of the ways he shows this.

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