Thursday, October 22, 2015

New Testament- Lesson 136

Matthew Chapter 20- Part 3

Zebedee's wife (mother of James & John) and her desire- Read (Matthew 20:20-28)(Mark 10:35-45)
Zebedee's wife (Salome)came to Jesus with her sons, James & John and worshiped him and told him that he should fulfill a desire of hers. Mark, the Gospel writer, writes that it was James and John who came to Jesus with the request. On inquiring of what the request was, she replied, "Grant that these two sons of mine, may sit, one on your right hand, and the other on the left, in your kingdom." Jesus answered, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I am going to drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am going to be baptized with?" They said to him, "We are able." He said, "You will indeed drink of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it is for them for whom it is prepared by my Father. When the ten disciples heard this, they were displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to him, and said, "You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great, exercise authority on them. But it shall not be so among you; whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; for the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." 

There's no doubt that James and John harbored ambitions of power and according to Matthew, they let their mother Salome approach Jesus with the matter (Mark differs in this). It's surprising that they could dwell on such a topic when Jesus had just spoken of what he was going to suffer shortly. Perhaps they had misinterpreted Jesus statement of "the twelve sitting on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the regeneration" and were still thinking of a temporal kingdom of Jesus and so the desire to occupy prominent positions.

The cup that Jesus was going to drink and the baptism that he was going to be baptized with were the brutal sufferings that he would endure before he gave up his life on the cross after crucifixion. On asking whether they would be able to follow in the same path, the brothers replied in the affirmative, perhaps not realizing what they were saying. On seeing that a rift was developing between his disciples regarding the matter of prominent positions, Jesus pointed out to them that power and authority were desired by them who lusted after worldly things, but he had called them to minister to others and be servants rather than masters and he ended by giving his own example: "...the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
According to tradition, James was the first of the twelve apostles to be martyred for his faith. John, on the other hand, though he suffered much for his faith in Christ, including being exiled to the island of Patmos for a period of time, was the only one of the remaining disciples not to die a martyr's death. Judas, of course committed suicide.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Testament- Lesson 135

Matthew Chapter 20- Part 2

Jesus prophesies his death a third time- Read (Matthew 20:17-19) (Mark 10:32-34) (Luke 18:31-33)
The first time that Jesus prophesied about his death is read in Matthew 16:21-28, where Peter rebuked him for saying so. The second time Jesus prophesied about his death is read in Matthew Chapter 17:22, 23. Here, Jesus prophesies about his death a third time.

Jesus while going to Jerusalem, walked ahead of them. Mark writes that the disciples were amazed and they were afraid. Twice he had told them about his death and they were grieved. They were amazed because he was walking boldly towards his death. They were afraid thinking of what harsh treatment awaited them. All 3 synoptic Gospel authors write about Jesus speaking to his disciples of betrayal, condemnation, spiteful treatment, death and resurrection. Matthew writes of Jesus speaking of his crucifixion.

The betrayer walked with them; the disciples knew it not, but he knew it all. Yet, he walked towards what his Father had sent him to earth for, death on the cross. Not only that, he was  going to accomplish something that no one had ever accomplished. The writer of Hebrews, puts it in this manner......that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14, 15)

Free Christian Wallpapers

Free Christian Wallpapers

Sunday, October 4, 2015

New Testament- Lesson 134

Matthew Chapter 20- Part 1

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard- Matthew Chapter 20:1-16

Jesus spoke a parable, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny/denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. He went out about the third hour (9 a.m.), and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them; You too go and work in my vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will pay you. They accepted and started working. Again he went out about the sixth (12 p.m.) and ninth hour (3 p.m.), and did likewise. About the eleventh hour (5 p.m.)he went out, and found others standing idle, and said to them, Why have you been standing here idle all day? They said, "Because no one hired us." He said to them, Go into my vineyard; and whatsoever is right, I will pay you. When it was evening, the Lord of the vineyard told his steward, "Call the labourers, and give them their pay, beginning from the last to the first." When those who were hired at the eleventh hour (5 p.m.) came, they received a penny/denarius. When those who were hired first in the morning came, they thought they would receive more; but each one was given a penny/denarius. When they had received it, they murmured against the landowner, saying, "These last have just worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us; we, who have borne the burden and heat of the day." But he answered one of them, and said, "Friend, I did you no wrong: did you not agree to work for me for a penny/denarius? Take that which is yours and go your way: I will give to this last, even as I have given you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own things? Is your eye evil, because I am good?"
Jesus ended the parable by saying, " So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."

The period of service in the vineyard was not considered important here by the landowner. He paid the laborers what he felt was right, because he was the owner of all. Only the laborers hired first were told that they would be given a penny; all the others were told that the landowner would give them what he felt was right. All the laborers received the same wages, a penny, though some came in late and worked for shorter durations. When called in to the service for God and his kingdom, some labor for longer durations and some shorter; the rewards may seem unjust because it is done with human calculations and often with jealousy and envy, but since God is the giver of grace to do anything that we do, it's finally up to him to decide whom to reward in what way. Having the mind of Christ, integrity and faithfulness are what God focuses upon more than the duration of service. The one who has worked for shorter duration may receive the same reward as the one who labored longer. The last becomes the first and the first last, so as to say.

The Jews (called first) had the covenant blessings of God, but most of them rejected Jesus through whom grace came. The Gentiles who were called eventually and they who accepted the offer of salvation through Jesus, were rewarded with the same promise of eternal life as was first presented to God's chosen people. They who were last became first, and the first became last.

The Gospel call goes out to all who hear through all generations. Yet, the chosen ones are the ones who would accept the offer of eternal life by grace through faith and then live for their Lord and Savior and remain faithful to him, working diligently for him, till their call to go to their eternal home comes. Many are called, but few are chosen.

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