The New Testament reading for Monday, June 25 is:

Matthew 20 (Listen)

Laborers in the Vineyard

20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius1 a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’2 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

A Mother's Request

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,3 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,4 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord,5 have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

Footnotes

[1] 20:2 A denarius was a day's wage for a laborer
[2] 20:15 Or is your eye bad because I am good?
[3] 20:26 Greek diakonos
[4] 20:27 Or bondservant, or servant (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)
[5] 20:30 Some manuscripts omit Lord

(ESV)


English Standard Version: Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

New Testament Pastoral Commentary for Matthew 20
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
In the past six years since I became an avid road cyclist, July has become my favorite month of the year. Before moving to Texas it was usually the month in which I got more miles on the bike than any other. But that's not the reason it's my favorite. July is almost fully consumed by the Tour de France. This year it begins July 3 and ends July 25, and I try to watch it every day (if at all possible).

Bike racing is not particularly exciting, unless you are a cyclist. Then you understand what these men do. They ride every day for three weeks (with just two rest days) at an average of about 25 mph for about a hundred miles per day. During this time they will spend six days in the high mountains, climbing thousands of feet each day. You can only appreciate what it takes to complete such a race if you are a cyclist yourself, and have ridden your bike more than a hundred miles in a single day, or climbed a high mountain on your bike. Then, you can begin (and only begin) to appreciate how difficult the Tour is.

The goal of most professional cyclists is simply to complete the Tour successfully at some point in their career. Only a handful have realistic hopes of winning the Tour. A few will be able to dream of winning a stage (one day of racing). For most, the best they can hope for is to become a "super domestic" (or teammate) for a real GC (General Category) contender. If they are able to help their teammate to the overall win of the Tour de France, the financial rewards will be significant, because every GC winner shares his prize with his teammates.

At a celebratory dinner on the night the race ends the winning team dines in style and converses joyfully about the great moments in which the race was won. Envelopes are handed out to each team member by the GC winner with a portion of the prize. Naturally the amounts vary, depending on how much the individual team member contributed to the win.

What do you suppose the teammates' reaction would be if the envelopes were passed out and everyone got the same amount? Or worse yet, suppose the winner passed out envelopes to every rider in the Tour (regardless of which team they rode for) with equal amounts. What do you suppose the super domestics' reaction would be?

It would probably be much like the workers in the vineyard who had labored hard all day under the burning sun and received the same amount from the owner of the vineyard as the workers who worked only one hour at the end of the day. Matthew 20:11-12 says: "When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us.'"

What Jesus was trying to teach us is that God doesn't owe us anything. We cannot earn salvation by our hard work. We can never be worthy of spending eternity in the presence of God, considering our sinfulness. So God's gift of salvation is just that. It's a gift, by grace alone. He doesn't owe it to us. We don't deserve it. We didn't earn it. But out of His goodness, God gives it to us anyway.

The Bible tells us that there will be rewards in heaven, for those who have served God faithfully here on earth. It also makes clear that those rewards will vary. However, none of us will be jealous of another. Nor will we question the size of our reward, or anyone else's. Because then we will understand that these are rewards of grace. God doesn't owe it to us. He gives it freely. And we will receive it gratefully and joyfully, knowing that the only One who deserves the glory He receives in eternity is Jesus, who earned salvation for us all.