Thursday, March 6, 2014

Matthew 19:23-30; 21:1-17

Matthew 19:23-30 - Riches and Rewards

Alter Jesus told the rich young ruler he had to give up everything in order to follow Him, He said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  The disciples then asked, "Who then can be saved?" - Matt. 19:25.  Jesus explained how difficult it is for a rich man to be saved.  "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." - Matt. 19:26.  Man cannot be saved by his own means, whether he is good or not.  Only God can save.  It's through Jesus' death and resurrection.  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." - Eph. 2:8-9.  Again, it's all about the heart.

We see truth in these verses in our culture today.  People work hard for their possessions and don't want to give them up.  They are never satisfied and want more and more stuff.  Social status and wealth is more important than God.  Yes, it is hard for any to enter the kingdom of heaven and we can't do it alone.  Only God can bring people to Him.  All we can do is keep praying and setting a good example for others.

Jesus gave the disciples a wonderful promise.  "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses and brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." - Matt. 19:28-30.

Jesus knew it was extremely difficult to give up everything, but He promised them He would reward His faithful followers in this life as well as in the future life.  When He ascends His earthly throne, they would sit on thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel.  In 1 Cor. 2:9-10 - "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."   

Those who give up something for His sake, Christ promises:
Mark 10:29-30 - to expect persecution. 
Rom. 8:17-18  - to share in His suffering.
1 Tim. 3:12 - if we live godly lives, we will be persecuted.
1 Peter. 2:19-21 -to be commented if we suffer.
1 Peter 4:12-13 - to rejoice and not be surprised when we go through trails.

God brings joy and reward to Christ's followers today.  We have the hope and assurance of the eternal life to come.  We know Him as our provider, protector, our healer, and our friend.

With God all things are possible.
God rewards those who love and follow Him.

Matthew 20:1-19 -The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

This parable are about people that are recruited for salvation at various times in life.  Some are saved early in life and some in midlife and some at the end of their life.  Is it about how God will reward His people.  Eternal life is by God's grace alone and not by any works done by us, yet we will receive rewards for what we do.

Jesus taught the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner.  The landowner hired workers at the beginning of the day and agreed to pay them a denarius for the day.  At the 3rd hour he saw others standing around doing nothing.  He hired them for a denarius for the day's work.  At the 6th, 9th, and 11th hour he did the same.  When evening came to pay the workers, the landowner paid each worker the agreed wage of a denarius.  Those who worked all day expected more pay than those who worked only part of the day and began to grumble.  The landowner said, "Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?" - Matt. 20:14-15. 

The landowner is a picture of God and the vineyard His kingdom.  The workers are all who have heard the gospel and use their lives to work for Him.  A denarius represents eternal life.  The workers at the 11th hour are the Gentiles who God allowed into the kingdom after the Jews rejected Jesus.  God is the creator of all and it's His right to do want He wants.  He can save who He wants, when He wants, and how He wants.   He gives life to all that respond to Him whether they responded early in life or at an old age.  Knowledge or years of service does not earn you rank in God's kingdom and eternal life cannot be earned.  It is God's free gift through faith.  "For by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. " - Eph. 2:8-9.

The landowner saw them standing around doing nothing.  All work done outside the owner's vineyard is called doing nothing.  We will not get rewards for work done outside of Christ.  We can do all kinds of "church" work and nice compassionate things, but they mean nothing unless He calls us to do it and we give God the glory.

Luke 15:11-32 is the story of the lost son.  The two sons are like the workers of the landowner.  His older son worked and was faithful to his father all his life and thought he deserved more than his younger brother who had left home with his inheritance and squandered it all.  When the younger son returned home, his father welcomed him and treated him as if he had not left.  The older was angry with his father, because he had a big party and celebration at the younger son's return.  The father said to the older, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."  

The older son and the angry workers failed to see the grace given.  God's promises and rewards are for all.

God's grace is amazing!  If it were left up to us, we would say some people did not deserve heaven, because they didn't endure the struggles that we have.  God says everyone who repents and believes in Jesus has eternal life.  Remember, His ways are not our ways.  None of us deserve God's saving grace.

How do you display jealousy of others in your work place because you work harder?
What is your attitude toward God's grace to others?
Will you take those feelings to God and ask Him to change your heart?

Principle:  Jesus promises rewards for His true followers.

Matthew 20:17-30 - Jesus Predicts His Death

Jesus tells His disciples on their way to Jerusalem that He will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn Him to death and hand Him over to the Gentiles.  He will be mocked and flogged and crucified.  Then on the 3rd day He will be raised to life!  Jesus never mentions the cross without mentioning the promise of His resurrection.  Jesus had told them this before, but He tells them again because the time is getting closer and still they did not really understand.

Why did He have to die?  "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain,  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." - 1 Cor. 15:2-4.

What does this mean to us?  We will be accepted into God's kingdom living eternally in heaven with Him.  We have freedom from our sins.  This is possible through Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection.

The mother of James and John asked Jesus for her 2 sons to sit on Jesus right and left in His kingdom.  Jesus then asked her sons, "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" - Matt. 20:22.  They answered, yes.  He told them they would indeed drink from His cup, but to sit on the right and was left up to God.  The cup is His suffering and death.  Jesus was saying that they needed to participate in His suffering.  They really didn't understand.  "Awake, awake, Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger."  - Is. 51:17.  At the cross Jesus suffered God's judgment in our place.  He took on our sins.  

James was the first of the apostles to be killed and John was exiled to the island of Patmos and suffered, because of His witness for Jesus.  He eventually was killed in Rome.

When the other 10 disciples heard about James and John wanting to sit by Jesus in His kingdom, they became indignant.  They wanted high seats, too.  Jesus called them together, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." - Matt. 20:25-27.  Again Jesus teaches the meaning of spiritual greatness.

Principle:  There is a cost to follow Jesus.

Matthew 20:29-34 - Jesus Heals the Two Blind Men

The crowds kept following Jesus everywhere He went.  Two blind men were sitting by the road and head Jesus was going by.  They shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" - Matt. 20:30.  Jesus stopped and ask what he wanted and again they repeated the same thing.  The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they continued to ask that Jesus restore their sight.  Jesus had compassion on them and immediately they received their sight and followed Him.

What do you want Jesus to do for you?
Have you ever cried, "Save me" to God?
Have you ever confessed Jesus to be your Lord?
There is a lesson here for us.  Do not be discouraged.  Keep praying.  Do not let anyone stop you from worshipping, witnessing, and following Jesus.

Principle: God is always there for us when we call out to Him.

Matthew 21:1-17 - The King is Coming!

As they approached Jerusalem He sent two disciples to the village ahead to find a donkey tied there with her colt.  They were to untie them and bring them to Jesus and if anyone says anything, they were to say the Lord needs them.  They were to do exactly what Jesus told them.  God's Word would be fulfilled if they obeyed.  "Say to the Daughter of Zion, See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." - Matt. 21:5; Zech. 9:9.  This seems to indicate Jesus probably knew the owner of the donkey and the owner was a believer.  As Jesus' disciples today, we are to do exactly what we are told.  The disciples did exactly what they were told and brought the donkey and colt to Jesus.  Donkeys were not good for war.  Jesus was not riding in on a horse as conquering king would ride.  He was riding in on a donkey representing humility.  He as declaring His kingship as humbly and gentle.

The Lord doesn't really need anything, but He needed the donkey to fulfill prophecy.  God needs people today to further the gospel.  He needs men and women to live for Christ.  There is a high cost for devotion.  "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." - Luke 9:23-24.

The crowds recognized Jesus as Messiah as He approached Jerusalem.  They gave Him adoration and praise and placed their cloaks on the donkey and colt and on the road.  Others placed tree branches on the road and went ahead of Jesus shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!" - Matt. 21:9; Ps. 118:26.  Hosanna means save in Hebrew.  Previously Jesus had prohibited such public displays, but not His hour had come.

We celebrate this entering to Jerusalem as Palm Sunday.  Palm Sunday was as day of compliance, acceptance, cleansing, healing and praise.  The King is coming!

Who is Jesus to you?
How do you give Jesus adoration and praise?
How do you praise and honor Jesus?
Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were buying and selling there and using religion as a means of crooked gain.  He overturned the tables of the money changers.  "My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers." - Matt. 21:13; Jer. 7:11. 

Each believer is the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us.  "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you" - 1 Cor. 3:16.  Sometimes, we need the same cleansing.  We are to praise God.  We are to pray and do God's will.  We have allowed other things to rob God of a place in our lives.  Sometimes we allow dishonesty, fear, pride, anger, self-will, unforgiveness, stubbornness, bad attitudes, or impure thoughts to enter our minds and hearts.  Jesus removed what was offensive in the Jerusalem temple and we need to allow Him to cleanse our temples, too.

Do you have impure thoughts and desires in your heart?
How will you rid yourself of these?
Will you let Him cleanse you?
What sins will you name before Him?
Principle:  Christians follow their King with praise and honor.

Just as Jesus cleansed the temple, He cleanses all who belong to Him.  Will you confess you sins before Him and receive His promised cleansing?  He has rewards waiting for you.
Wow!  More great lessons from God in Matthew.  See you next week.

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