Matthew 18-22 Service of the King

Matthew 18-22 Service of the King


Psalm 119:33-40 Wholehearted Commitment
Ps 119:33 HE “Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your statutes. I will keep them to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law. Yes, I will obey it with my whole heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in them. 36 Turn my heart toward your statutes, not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things. Revive me in your ways. 38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, that you may be feared. 39 Take away my disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good. 40 Behold, I long for your precepts! Revive me in your righteousness."

Observations: 33:33-34 This section lists things necessary to walk in God's ways:
  • 33a teaching – the content of what God wants, directed to the mind;
  • 33b keeping – a commitment of the will to steadfastly obey all that God has revealed;
  • 34a understanding – a conscience that discerns between what is and isn't God's will;
  • 34b wholeheartedness – a focus of the emotions (and will) solely on obeying God.
33:35-37 As a result of walking in God's ways, the psalmist experiences delight in them, and asks God for further help in staying on the right path. He asks for:
  • 35 direction – daily insight/guidance into what steps to take;
  • 36 value change – looking to please God rather than himself;
  • 37a focus – on what is eternal rather than worthless;
  • 37b revival/restoration – to God's ways which was lost due to the temporal focus
33:38-40 Now that he is in a position to be blessed, he asks God to fulfill His promises, so that others may see and fear God. The disgrace/scorn he dreads is that of not receiving God's blessing. As a final appeal he offers his longing for God's word, as the basis for God reviving him in His righteousness (the basis of blessing).
Application: Consistently walking in God's ways requires a total commitment of our being; is there any part of you that isn't committed?
Prayer: God, I want to know, and do, and be all that You want; please revive me when I falter and help me delight in Your ways more than my worthless desires. Thanks and praise to You. Amen.
Proverbs 27:9-10 Friend Facts
Pr 27:9 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart; so does earnest counsel from a man’s friend. 10 Don’t forsake your friend and your father’s friend. Don’t go to your brother’s house in the day of your disaster: better is a neighbor who is near than a distant brother.

Observations: 27:9 Building (and cultivating) friendships is a skill that takes time and effort. Friends share things including their hearts: plans, ambitions, hopes and dreams. Counsel is an intergral part of sharing as one reacts to another from a Biblical perspective, affirming or questioning. People without friends have unshared and unexamined hearts, and lack joy.
27:10 Another one of the “betters” which helps us make wise choices. A close friend (geographically and emotionally) is better than a distant brother. Friends not only share hearts (27:9) but also share in serving each other's needs. That develops a loyalty, intimacy and interdependency which can supersede blood relationships, like a marriage does. Friends fulfill their obligations to each other like David and Jonathan did.
Application: See TOYL Guide to Biblical Friendships and keep building.
Prayer: Father, thanks for the blessing of friends. Thank You that we can be Your friend and learn how to have intimate relationships with others as a result. Help me be a good friend to those around me. Amen.


Matthew 18-22 This post has a number of practical and significant topics, from Church discipline to divorce, discipleship and rewards, Jesus' explanation about His death, and entrance into Jerusalem as King, where He clears the wicked out of the Temple. And what would Matthew's gospel be without a line up of the religious establishment to oppose Him? Jesus curses a fig tree representing the fruitless nation, and gives more revelation about the Kingdom.


Matthew 18 Repentance and Restoration
18:1 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" 2 Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in their midst, 3 and said, "Most certainly I tell you, unless you repent, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. 5 Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.
7 "Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the fire of the age. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire. 10 See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost. 12 "What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray? 13 If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 Even so it is not the will/desire of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
15 "If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. 16 But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. 18 Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 19 Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst."
21 Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. 24 When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ 27 The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 "But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’ 30 He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord called him in, and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’ 34 His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds."

Observations: 18:1-6 This chapter reverberates with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount” 5:19-20 greatest in the kingdom; 5:29-30 eliminating personal sin; and 5:19-26 reconciling interpersonal sin/conflict. The promise of glory for those who followed Him (16:27) authenticated by Jesus appearing in the glory of the kingdom on the Mount of Transfiguration, got the disciples thinking about who would be greatest in the kingdom
. Mt 16:27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Jesus said they needed a paradigm shift (repent=change of mind); it's not about pride, but humility. Children are dependent upon others for their needs. The children of the wealthy had a slave/tutor ruling over/tutoring them, and thus were lower than a slave in status, considered weak and powerless. He set a child before them, and communicated four truths about the kingdom:
  1. Entrance (which means more than stepping over the threshold, but taking up possession) into the kingdom required humility and dependence, not pride.
  2. Greatness/possession corresponded to humility/meekness/dependence.
  3. Welcome and acceptance of the humble/weak was parallel to accepting the Messiah.
  4. Rejection and causing the humble/weak to stumble or go astray was a fate worse than physical death.
18:7-14 Jesus broadens the discussion to that of offenses/stumbling in one's own life and that of others. Fire of the age is paralleled with the garbage dump, Gehenna (see comments on losing enduring blessing for diminishing short term gain). In contrast to the Pharisaical attitude toward the humble, and those going astray, the Son of Man came to save such. The Father doesn't want or desire that any of the weak ones will perish (same as the verb “wanted” in 23:37; a different verb with similar intent is in 2Pt 3:9). God values the humble and and especially the repentance of those who have gone astray, which leads to the next section on restoration of the repentant.
18:15-20 Church restoration/discipline is one of the most recognizable hallmarks of a Biblical church, which takes sin and its consequences seriously. This is the second and last mention of the church/assembly in the Gospels (16:18). The process is simple to understand, difficult to carry out, yet commanded. A weak/straying brother/sister has sinned against another. The passage isn't limited to interpersonal conflict. The word for “sin” is that of omission “missing the mark” or the standard God has mandated, from loyal love to doing no harm. “Against” is “eis” meaning “to or toward.” The context of the previous verses is concerned with a weak believer who has gone astray, stumbling, missing the mark, failing to love as Christ mandated, usually because of self-centered thinking and independence. They are alienated from the fellowship of believers in their hearts, yet temporarily and occasionally present in their body. These are the folks who have not removed from their lives the things that will cause a trip to the garbage dump for a burning of all to which they are devoting their unrepentant hearts. God doesn't want that to happen, and neither should more mature saints who should love as Christ loved. The epistles will further elaborate on the essential ministries of discernment, admonishment, exhortation, encouragement, reproof, rebuke, and rejection, which are illustrated here. You should study each of the these words in the Scriptures, or you can cheat and find the outlines on Truthbase.net.
  1. Rescue starts with discernment, an awareness that things aren't as they should be, that a person is missing the mark, and has stumbled into the pit of sin, from which they have not escaped. 
  2. Admonishment is warning each other of where their current path leads, or the consequences of the course of action. This is implicit in the next step, but spelled out more in the epistles. 
  3. Reproof, is a bringing to light, by showing a fault. Biblical preaching and teaching based upon discernment of the needs of the audience seek to accomplish admonition and reproof, at a low volume, by presenting truth and portraying what obedience and disobedience look like (Mt 28:20). Unfortunately, some folks are deceived and hardened by their sin, so a more personal and pointed attempt is necessary. Jesus said take the initiative and go to the person, at a low volume, to prevent pride from blinding the person from seeing and repenting. A good way to do this, is to highlight a behavior, and ask the person what interpretation they could put on it. For example, it looked like you did or failed to do, or are not doing “X”, am I mistaken? Is there another way to look at it? Is this something that pleases God? If the person isn't a fool, they fear God, are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and want to do what's right in God's sight, they will hear you. Repentance and restoration of the relationship should follow, and you've gained back a brother or sister. It usually doesn't happen like this in my neck of the woods, but your mileage may vary. 
  4. Exhortation is enhanced admonition to repent, and encouragement follows repentance. If you just encourage a sinner without their repentance, you are encouraging them to continue to sin, and you will share in it, and its consequences. Goodness and love lead to repentance. If there is no repentance, then the “goodness and love” are disobedience, enabling the sin, and detrimental to the sinner. 
  5. Refused reproof leads to rebuke (telling them they are wrong). This occurs after a couple of witnesses corroborate the story and the sin (Galatians 6:1-5). If a number of godly people tell someone they are sinning, and they refuse to acknowledge their sin and repent, they are a deceived fool (Pr 12:15; 26:12). In Matthew 7:6 Jesus warned against casting pearls of truth before swine, who can get quite nasty. Proverbs 23:9 instructs the wise to keep quiet when the person demonstrates their determination to follow the devil rather than God. One last effort, as an expression of grace is called for. 
  6. If the person doesn't listen and demonstrate that they are not sinning after round two, the church is to be told of the person's refusal to repent (and the sin where appropriate). Presumably people in the city would ask the person what's going on, and seek to help them get back on track. But, by the time it reaches this stage, the hardened sinner has shut down, and are no longer receptive to God, nor fellow believers in whom the Spirit dwells (more on this later). Therefore Jesus requires rejection of the individual, outwardly demonstrating the distance between the person and God, and cutting them off from the blessings of the community, just like in the OT, except you don't stone them. 
  7. Rejection is a very loving thing to do, if it leads to repentance. Even if it doesn't, it warns others not to sin (which is the loving thing), and maintains one's loyal love to Christ. The goal of treating the one rebelling against God and His people as an outsider, is still repentance and restoration. See 1Corinthians 5 (entire chapter) and the outline on Truthbase.net for more. People had nothing to do with Gentiles and tax-collectors. 
2Thessalonians 3:14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.
18:21-27 Forgiveness of those who've repeatedly sinned against us is a very Christlike thing to do. Once you get to 490 times start over, demonstrating the same mercy God has extended to us. Mercy does not preclude discipline, which has just been commanded, because if the person shows up on judgment day, still clinging to their sin, they will sorely wish they had listened, repented and sought forgiveness of those they harmed by their selfish folly.
Application: God requires compassion holiness among His people and specifies the path to corporate purity. We cannot overlook sin nor sweep it under the rug, nor heartlessly condemn it, but use God's methods to cleanse it from our midst.
Prayer: God, may my relationships with others be as You desire, and may I never cause others to stumble, but help them walk victoriously with You. Amen.


Matthew 19 Divorce and Discipleship
19:1 It happened when Jesus had finished these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the borders of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Pharisees came to him, testing him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?" 4 He answered, "Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ 6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart." 7 They asked him, "Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce, and divorce her?" 8 He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so. 9 I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery." 10 His disciples said to him, "If this is the case of the man with his wife, it is not expedient/profitable to marry." 11 But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it."
13 Then little children were brought to him, that he should lay his hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, "Allow the little children, and don’t forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these." 15 He laid his hands on them, and departed from there.
16 Behold, one came to him and said, "Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" 17 He said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "’you shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal.’ ‘You shall not offer false testimony.’ 19 ’Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’" 20 The young man said to him, "All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions.
23 Jesus said to his disciples, "Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" 26 Looking at them, Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 27 Then Peter answered, "Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?" 28 Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.

Observations: 19:1-12 Divorce is not the unpardonable sin, but is often treated as such. For more on this topic Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage on Truthbase.net.
This passage, as does 5:31-32, mentions an “exception clause” “except for fornication”, which Mark and Luke neglect to tell their readers in Rome and Greece. Fornication is the correct translation, meaning sex between unmarried persons. Adultery is another word, which Matthew also uses in verse 9, to refer to sex between married persons. As mentioned in Matthew 1:18 the Jewish culture considered a couple married when they were betrothed or pledged to be married to each other. If in the course of the engagement there was fornication, or unfaithfulness, there could be a divorce, as Joseph wanted to do (put away = divorce). That's the only exception. The reason given, is that what God has joined together, man must not separate. The disciples considered this to be a tough call. They concluded that it would be better to remain single (expedient/profitable is used in 5:29,30; 18:6). Jesus replied with a comment about becoming a eunuch for the sake of greater reward in the Kingdom. All are free to embrace that path, but only a few would be able to do so (we'll revisit this in 1Cor 7). From the beginning (Genesis 2:24) marriage had three components:
  1. Leaving: a social-legal declaration of intent of leaving one's family and singleness (two talks frequently missed in dysfunctional marriages) to become a new unit (single entity).
  2. Cleaving: this is the emotional bonding that occurs after the social-legal the leaving. After, means after (as in after one is permanently committed to the other in a covenantal relationship, which are what vows should be all about). See post on the Song of Solomon for help in “not waking love until the proper time.” Cleaving or being joined refers to two pieces of parchment being glued together so that they can't be separated without permanently ripping pieces out of each other. Dysfunctional couples also fail at this task, carving out their territories, and meeting only in agreed DMZ (demilitarized zones). Selfishness inhibits the skill and joy of being able to trust and share themselves with another. Study all the marriage outlines on Truthbase.net for help in developing this intimacy of being inextricably intertwined.
  3. One Flesh: this is physical intimacy, occurring not only after the first two, but is built upon them. The joy one experiences here is dependent upon leaving and cleaving. Dysfunctional couples use each other rather than give themselves to each other, becoming one on multiple levels.
The above is God's plan A, dependent upon drawing on His strength to love sacrificially (agape) in addition to emotionally-affectionately (philia and storge) and physically (eros). But what about those who don't know God? This leads to a consideration of what constitutes marriage in God's sight. If two people of random or similar gender go to the town hall and get a permit to sleep with each other (and get insurance benefits) as long as they both shall please, or until someone more attractive shows up, is that marriage in God's sight? Does God join unbelievers together who live in a state that has common law marriage, while across the street, He doesn't join two people who live together in a state that doesn't have common law marriage? If one follows the state's laws about marriage, but not about divorce are they logically consistent (a good test for truth)? How about two people put together by cult leadership or against their will? How about deception and defrauding? Are those who are already married to someone else, or marry for money or a green card, with no intent to honor their commitment, and just mouth words in a religious building any more married in God's sight? Does God join a Druid and a Satan worshiper who sacrifice a goat and have sex? Does God join an Israelite and a “foreign wife”? That last one is the easiest to answer, since the God who after the exile reiterated how He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) also hated the Israelite-pagan unions and mandated divorce (Ezra 10). Apparently God didn't recognize the marriages, and didn't join the two parties together, because He wouldn't bless people until they divorced. The thing that makes people married in the sight of God, is the declaration and intent to do and be so (that's what the vows are all about). If two divorced individuals, each with kids from a prior marriage, get married and have a bunch of kids, and then show up in church, should they be seated in the adulterer's section? If you're in a dysfunctional relationship, don't get divorced, get help. God's grace empowers the impossible. If you are divorced, or divorced and remarried, God has a great Plan B for you, which is better than anything you could achieve on your own, and it starts with developing a great relationship with Him. We'll revisit this topic in 1Corinthians 7, and The Catacomb Church – Victorious Christianity Blog starting this Fall.
19:13-15 This section about the little children provides a bookend or inclusio to the beginning of chapter 18, from where one gets the understanding of little children (not one's speculative thinking about kids. Humbly and dependently seeking after Jesus results in possession (belongs to) of the kingdom.
19:16-30 See the Survey of Rewards on Truthbase.net where all the parallel accounts are also considered with the supporting evidence (that is too much to include here). Note that the context is reward in the kingdom, not forgiveness of sins. Where in the gospel, thus far, has Matthew talked about the subsitutionary atonement? Where in this section does it talk about belief and faith in Christ's death as payment for one's sin (Uhhh...nowhere??? Right.). See introductory post to Matthew 1 for the contention that the sins of OT saints were covered by participation in the Day of Atonement. Jesus first harasses the young man, who called him good, but wasn't following Him. If only God is good, and Jesus was good, then Jesus was God, and the man should have left all to follow. The young man wants dominion/life in the kingdom/age to come. See previous discussion on both terms. Jesus states quite simply, if you want enter (see comments on enter=possess), keep the commandments (see anywhere in the previous 66 books of the OT for this theme). He asks Jesus for clarification and gets some specifics and a summary. The young man testified to his righteousness, which Jesus accepted. The only thing he lacked (for “perfect,” see Mt 5:48) was getting rid of what was keeping him from following Jesus, his wealth. For Jesus not to have pointed out his need for justification by faith (if that were the issue) would have made Jesus as dishonest, as those who try to read that into the passage. The issue is clearly reward or inheritance in the kingdom (Col 3:24 equates the two). As a result of giving, the man would have treasure in heaven (Mt 5-7 anyone?). This was denying himself, and then he needed to follow. The cost was too high for the righteous young man, who had a temporal value system. Some, with good cause, think this guy was Mark, who eventually turned around, which we'll explore, when we get to Mark 14:51-52. Jesus turned to his disciples and affirmed the difficulty of the rich to have possessions in the kingdom (equated to being saved by the disciples, in the glorification sense, see Survey of Rewards, and earlier discussion on the three/four aspects of salvation). Matthew uses the term Kingdom of God (as in the one coming from God), perhaps a reference to Mt 6:24 (can't serve two masters) and/or Mt 6:33 (seek first the kingdom of God). The camel and the eye of a needle refer to an impossible thing. Mark 10:24 records Jesus' words additional words “how hard it is for those trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God
The “eye of the needle gate” hasn't been discovered by archaeologists, and the point is not humility, but self-denial to follow Jesus. Jesus was not opposed to wealth, nor was the OT nor Paul (1Tim 6), but rather an advocate of stewardship and following the Savior. The young man's wealth kept him from doing that. What keeps you from following wholeheartedly?
The disciple's astonishment (first marriage, and now this) was based upon the Pharisaical teaching that wealth was a sign of God's favor and blessing (a legitimate concept from the OT when accompanied with righteousness). God can persuade and motivate a rich person to follow Him, did so in the Scriptures, and has done so throughout history. The rich righteous are doubly blessed and usually are a blessing to others, as God intended (remember He blesses us so we can bless others?).
Peter gets a flash of insight and realizes that they have left everything to follow Jesus. If the rich young ruler who wanted life/dominion in the Messiah's kingdom would get treasure in heaven, “What then will we have?” Note that Jesus did not say everything was equal, but clearly spelled out that they would be granted the highest privilege of rulership/dominion, sitting on a throne, ruling over the twelve tribes, when Jesus sets up His kingdom. This is yet future in Jesus' day, and ours. At the regeneration of all things, when God reverses the effects of the Fall, and sets up the kingdom, look for the twelve on thrones as Jesus promised. But what will there be for us? Anyone who has accepted the terms of discipleship and suffered loss for the sake of following Christ, will be repaid with a hundred times as much (Mark 10:30 and Luke 18:30 elaborate that it is in this life) and in the age to come will inherit life/dominion of the Messianic Age. Count on it. The Pharisees where considered first, but would be last in the kingdom, and the disciples, who had nothing but a determination to follow Jesus, would be considered first.
Application: Is there anything you desire which is worth more than God's blessing and reward in this life and the next? (If there is, let me know, because I'd be a fool to follow Christ if there was something eternally better.) If not, what are you willing to exchange for it?
Prayer: God, keep me focused on Your truth so that I will never be deceived into believing that a temporal trinket of power or pleasure is worth more than Your eternal reward for righteous service. Amen.

Matthew 20 The King's Ransom
20:1 "For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who was the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 He went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace. 4 To them he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 About the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle. He said to them, ‘Why do you stand here all day idle?’ 7 "They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ "He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is right.’ 8 When evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.’ 9 "When those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius. 10 When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise each received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they murmured against the master of the household, 12 saying, ‘These last have spent 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 answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take that which is yours, and go your way. It is my desire to give to this last just as much as to you. 15 Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen."
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day he will be raised up."
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him. 21 He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom." 22 But Jesus answered, "You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to him, "We are able." 23 He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared by my Father." 24 When the ten heard it, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus summoned them, and said, "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 27 Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant, 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."
29 As they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30 Behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!" 31 The multitude rebuked them, telling them that they should be quiet, but they cried out even more, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!" 32 Jesus stood still, and called them, and asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" 33 They told him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." 34 Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they followed him.

Observations: 20:1-16 This section starts with a “gar” in Greek (a useful little preposition to know in following an argument, for it “gives a reason” for a preceding statement), here giving us an explanation of the first-last-last-first of 19:30. All the workers are paid the same amount, but not the same hourly rate. A denarius was the agreed upon rate for a day's work. The master chose to give those hired last, the same amount as those who worked all day. The last guys got the best hourly rate, the first guys the worst, thus illustrating the first-last comment. Remember, this is about reward, not justification. It is about the master or owner choosing to bless those that from outward appearances don't deserve it (the disciples), and diminish the blessing of those who outwardly do appear to deserve it (the religious establishment). It does not teach equal reward for all believers, since that would violate God's revelation and promises in both testaments to reward righteously. Not everyone sits on a throne over a tribe of Israel. But it does teach that God is generous in rewarding His servants, even those who are late to the game. See comments on 19:30, for Pharisee-Disciple parallel. The last part of verse 16, “many are called and few are chosen”, has caused a lot of controversy. It isn't in some versions, but does show up again in 22:14 (where it better fits the context, and that's where we'll explore it).
20:17-19 Giving another preview of upcoming events, Jesus again mentions His death at Jerusalem, indicating that it will be crucifixion, but ending with resurrection. The purpose, though, isn't given until verse 28.
20:20-28 The mother of James and John tries to do an end run around Peter by requesting that her sons sit on either side of Him in the kingdom. Jesus replied that His Father was the one who determined that (probably Moses and David, but Elijah could be a contender). The other disciples got upset (that their mom's hadn't asked first), and Jesus gives them the Biblical perspective on leadership: it's about serving, not being served. Since they wanted to be great in the kingdom, Jesus told them how to go about it. Be a servant, meeting the needs of others. The greatest serves the most, which was what Jesus was intent on doing. Here for the first time in the gospel of Matthew we are told that Jesus was going to give His life as a ransom for many. This is the vicarious substitutionary atonement (which is theologian-speak for giving one's life as a ransom for many). There is no elaboration of it, nor anything about the necessity of faith. Any understanding of Matthew prior to this chapter that includes justification by faith, is totally missing the point, and is a distortion of the text. We'll talk more about this when the Scripture does.
20:29-34 Two blind men get their eyes opened, and follow God, which is an appropriate metaphor for what believers should do. A similar miracle happened in 9:27, which is a little far away to be a bookend, but there might be some instructive structure and progression between the two accounts. In the first, the recipients disobeyed God; these guys follow. That's progress.
Application: The way up is down; if you want to be great, get down and serve others like our Lord did. How have you served the needs of others, physically and spiritually, this past week?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks for sacrificing Yourself to serve my needs, for both forgiveness and truth; may I follow in Your steps, serving those needs in others, by Your infinite enabling power. Amen.


Matthew 21 Presentation and Rejection of the King
21:1 When they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethsphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and immediately he will send them." 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, behold, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." 6 The disciples went, and did just as Jesus commanded them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their clothes on them; and he sat on them. 8 A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road. Others cut branches from the trees, and spread them on the road. 9 The multitudes who went before him, and who followed kept shouting, "Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" 10 When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" 11 The multitudes said, "This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."
12 Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. 13 He said to them, "It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers!" 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children who were crying in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the son of David!" they were indignant, 16 and said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes. Did you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing babies you have perfected praise?’" 17 He left them, and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there.
18 Now in the morning, as he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves. He said to it, "Let there be no fruit from you forever!" Immediately the fig tree withered away. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree immediately wither away?" 21 Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, if you have faith, and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it would be done. 22 All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
23 When he had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?" 24 Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question, which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?" They reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all hold John as a prophet." 27 They answered Jesus, and said, "We don’t know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
28 But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind, and went. 30 He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he didn’t go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.
33 "Hear another parable. There was a man who was a master of a household, who planted a vineyard, set a hedge about it, dug a winepress in it, built a tower, leased it out to farmers, and went into another country. 34 When the season for the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers, to receive his fruit. 35 The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they treated them the same way. 37 But afterward he sent to them his son, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But the farmers, when they saw the son, said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?" 41 They told him, "He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will lease out the vineyard to other farmers, who will give him the fruit in its season." 42 Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner. This was from the Lord. It is marvelous in our eyes?’ 43 "Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and will be given to a nation bringing forth its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it will fall, it will scatter him as dust." 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke about them. 46 When they sought to seize him, they feared the multitudes, because they considered him to be a prophet.

Observations: 21:1-11 Jesus enters Jerusalem a week before His death (Palm Sunday), on the colt of a donkey (the quote is a combination of Isa 62:11 and Zech 9:9). A multitude of pilgrims, on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover greet him, singing “Hosannas”. These are among the same people who would be screaming “crucify Him” within the week.
21:12 Jesus entered the temple and cleaned house. The sacrificial system had become a criminal racket, in which “secular money” wasn't acceptable, so it had to be changed into “temple money” to buy sacrifices at inflated prices. Jesus rebuked them for turning the house of prayer into a den of robbers, and drove out the wicked. The religious establishment leaders, who had permitted and profited from the evil doers, showed their mettle by trying to silence those who were praising the Son of David (typical). Jesus tell the leaders to stuff it, quoting Psalm 8:2.
21:18-22 Spending the night outside town in Bethany, He returns the next morning (second coming?) and sees a fig tree that should have had fruit (since that appeared before the leaves). Not finding any fruit, He curses the tree and it withers, a symbolic judgment on the generation/nation that failed to bear fruit. (See Romans 11 for the restoration). The disciples are noticeably impressed, and Jesus says that with faith (which has to be in what God has revealed) they could do greater things, like moving mountains.
21:23- 46 Jesus spends the rest of the chapter sparring with the establishment, who first want to know by what authority He is teaching and disrupting things. Since they won't answer His question about John, He doesn't directly answer theirs. But in the next two parables, clues emerge. The first compares them to the son who didn't do God's will and repent like John taught. The tax collectors and prostitutes (some of the lower echelons of society) were doing God's will because they repented, and thus are entering the kingdom ahead of the elders and chief priests. Notice that they are all said to enter. Enter still means have a possession, as it has earlier in the book. Here is another example of last-first first-last. Note also the veiled reference to the son doing the Father's will, by laboring in His vineyard (Israel), which is what Jesus was doing. The second parable, gets more pointed, with God the Father being the master, Israel the vineyard for which He cared, the religious leaders the farmers who kept the fruit for themselves, the servants being the prophets, and the Son being none other than...well you know. After eliciting from them that the miserable farmers deserved judgment, Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22-23 to show that they, who should have been building God's temple are rejecting the chief cornerstone. Therefore they would be judged by having the Kingdom taken from them and given to those who would produce the righteous fruit God desired. The stone would cause some to stumble and be broken, and would crush others (Daniel 2 maybe??). The leaders wanted to kill Him but a focus group from their political consultants suggested they wait until popular opinion waned a bit.
Application: Those who don't produce the fruit God desires will wish they had, but by then it will be too late.
Prayer: My King, I am in Your service, to do Your will, for all of my days; may I produce for You the fruit You desire and deserve, and turn from anything that will hinder that production. Amen.


Matthew 22 Invitations and Disputations
22:1 Jesus answered and spoke again in parables to them, saying, 2 "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner. My cattle and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast!"’ 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise, 6 and the rest grabbed his servants, and treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 When the king heard that, he was angry, and sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 "Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. 9 Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.’ 10 Those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests. 11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn’t have on wedding clothing, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?’ He was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.’ 14 For many are called, but few chosen."
15 Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entrap him in his talk. 16 They sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are honest, and teach the way of God in truth, no matter whom you teach, for you aren’t partial to anyone. 17 Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the tax money." They brought to him a denarius. 20 He asked them, "Whose is this image and inscription?" 21 They said to him, "Caesar’s." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." 22 When they heard it, they marveled, and left him, and went away.
23 On that day Sadducees (those who say that there is no resurrection) came to him. They asked him, 24 saying, "Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed for his brother.’ 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first married and died, and having no seed left his wife to his brother. 26 In the same way, the second also, and the third, to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection therefore, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had her." 29 But Jesus answered them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like God’s angels in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ’I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." 33 When the multitudes heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
34 But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him. 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, "’you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "Of David." 43 He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 ’The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?’ 45 "If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?" 46 No one was able to answer him a word, neither did any man dare ask him any more questions from that day forth.

Observations: 22:1-14 The Kingdom which comes from the Heavens, which we've been discussing throughout the gospel, is compared to a wedding feast, to which the Jews were called, invited, and summoned by the prophets. But they refused, by an exercise of their free will, and chose to do their desire rather than the King's will. They even went so far as to abuse and execute His servants the prophets. The King destroyed them and burnt their city (as would happen in AD 70). Then He called/invited others to His feast, whomever His servants found. In keeping with the reward motif of Matthew, the garments could refer to righteous works (Rev 19:8), or in light of the recent but undeveloped ransom teaching, Christ's righteousness. If the latter view is valid, in keeping with the context of the parable, the King would have provided wedding garments for them since the messengers just gathered them, good and bad, off the streets. Then the improperly clad guest had declined the King's provision. This requires a couple of steps (leaps?) in logic, the former view only one: he was improperly prepared for the kingdom feast because he had failed to listen to the prophets. This corresponds better with a Biblical understanding of choice/chosen, below. So, many were called or summoned to the feast, but not all were worthy or acceptable. Called is summoned, or invited to something, which requires a free will choice to accept or reject, and there are lots of Biblical examples of each, as well as in this parable. Chosen is a word that means choice or select, and by extension, accepted or valuable (cf. USDA Choice steak). Many were invited, but only a few (a smaller number) were shown to be worthy and choice. Compare Jesus' words in 7:13-14.
22:15-22 The Pharisees (who hated Rome and opposed their puppet ruler Herod) and Herodians (who supported Herod and Rome), mortal enemies, teamed up to trip up Jesus, by asking about the obligation to pay taxes. Jesus politely calls them hypocrites and declares the obligation to give to Caesar what is Caesar's (which would include taxes), and to God what is God's (which would include ultimate allegiance). See the chiastic structure in 1Peter 1:17 for another statement of this. In making this statement Jesus paves the way to prevent the tyranny of the state by carving out territory upon which the state might not intrude, and opens the door to political freedom. This verse also provides a basis for civil disobedience, since the state may not overstep its boundaries and demand the allegiance owed only to God. They can demand, but the believer doesn't have to obey, but is free to suffer the consequences of loyalty to God (Cf. Acts 5:29).
22:23-33 Next up, the Sadducees take a swipe at Jesus on the resurrection of the dead, erring, as many modernists do, by being ignorant of the Scriptures, and the power of God. Correcting their misconceptions first about the power of God, they did not understand that the resurrection would not just be an awakening to continue life as they knew it, but a transformation of earthly bodies into glorified bodies, like the angels. Then He addressed their ignorance of the Scriptures, using God's words to Moses in Exodus 3:6 (a book the Sadducees accepted) and a little grammar lesson. By using the present tense God was indicating that He is the God of the living, not the dead. The crowds cheered.
22:34 The Pharisees get up at bat for the third out, testing Jesus on the greatest commandment. They agreed that the Law and the Prophets hung on loving God with all they had, and loving one's neighbor as oneself. Jesus then asks a question out of Psalm 110, where David calls his “Son” Lord, indicating His divinity. No one could answer His Biblical logic, so they stopped talking to Him.
Application: Knowing God's power and word are essential to keep from error, and enjoy the blessings of the Kingdom of God.
Prayer: God, help me know Your truth and Your power so that I might be useful in Your service; keep me from the folly of resisting Your authority in my life. Amen.

Digging Deeper


God in a nutshell: God patiently and graciously calls people to repentance and obedience, but eventually, lowers the boom in judgment, severely. He particularly judges those who lead others astray. He sends Jesus, as He did the former prophets, to call the nation back to Him, and also sends Him as a ransom for their sin, and their future King.

Build-a-Jesus: These chapters present a robust Jesus who teaches and trains His disciples, fully conscious of the future that awaits Him, both in the near and far term. He calls for compassion on those who are weak yet vigorously refutes and confounds His deceitful opponents, and kicks the money-changers out of the temple. He has a particular dislike for hypocritical religious leaders (I've always liked that about Him.)

Us in a nutshell: We are invited to an eternal feast, that starts today, by following Jesus. We can accept or reject His offer, and accept the consequences that go along with our choices. God uses His servants to help weak and wayward sheep get back on the path, but some will refuse to listen to His people or Him. The path to greatness in the Kingdom is that of self-sacrificial service, like Jesus modeled.

Where to Go for More:
Truthbase.net

Matthew complete text


Matthew 18
18:1 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" 2 Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in their midst, 3 and said, "Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. 5 Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.
7 "Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire. 10 See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost. 12 "What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray? 13 If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
15 "If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. 16 But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. 18 Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 19 Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst."
21 Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. 24 When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down and kneeled before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ 27 The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 "But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’ 30 He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord called him in, and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’ 34 His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds."

Matthew 19
19:1 It happened when Jesus had finished these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the borders of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Pharisees came to him, testing him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?" 4 He answered, "Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ 6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart." 7 They asked him, "Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce, and divorce her?" 8 He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so. 9 I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery." 10 His disciples said to him, "If this is the case of the man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry." 11 But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it."
13 Then little children were brought to him, that he should lay his hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, "Allow the little children, and don’t forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these." 15 He laid his hands on them, and departed from there.
16 Behold, one came to him and said, "Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" 17 He said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "’you shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal.’ ‘You shall not offer false testimony.’ 19 ’Honour your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’" 20 The young man said to him, "All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions.
23 Jesus said to his disciples, "Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" 26 Looking at them, Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 27 Then Peter answered, "Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?" 28 Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.

Matthew 20
20:1 "For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who was the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. 2 When he had agreed with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 He went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace. 4 To them he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 About the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle. He said to them, ‘Why do you stand here all day idle?’ 7 "They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ "He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is right.’ 8 When evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the labourers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.’ 9 "When those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius. 10 When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise each received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they murmured against the master of the household, 12 saying, ‘These last have spent 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 answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take that which is yours, and go your way. It is my desire to give to this last just as much as to you. 15 Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen."
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day he will be raised up."
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him. 21 He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom." 22 But Jesus answered, "You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to him, "We are able." 23 He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared by my Father." 24 When the ten heard it, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus summoned them, and said, "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 27 Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant, 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."
29 As they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30 Behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!" 31 The multitude rebuked them, telling them that they should be quiet, but they cried out even more, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!" 32 Jesus stood still, and called them, and asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" 33 They told him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." 34 Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they followed him.

Matthew 21
21:1 When they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethsphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and immediately he will send them." 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, behold, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." 6 The disciples went, and did just as Jesus commanded them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their clothes on them; and he sat on them. 8 A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road. Others cut branches from the trees, and spread them on the road. 9 The multitudes who went before him, and who followed kept shouting, "Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" 10 When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" 11 The multitudes said, "This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."
12 Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. 13 He said to them, "It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers!" 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children who were crying in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the son of David!" they were indignant, 16 and said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes. Did you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing babies you have perfected praise?’" 17 He left them, and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there.
18 Now in the morning, as he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves. He said to it, "Let there be no fruit from you forever!" Immediately the fig tree withered away. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, "How did the fig tree immediately wither away?" 21 Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, if you have faith, and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it would be done. 22 All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
23 When he had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?" 24 Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question, which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?" They reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all hold John as a prophet." 27 They answered Jesus, and said, "We don’t know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
28 But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind, and went. 30 He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he didn’t go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.
33 "Hear another parable. There was a man who was a master of a household, who planted a vineyard, set a hedge about it, dug a winepress in it, built a tower, leased it out to farmers, and went into another country. 34 When the season for the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers, to receive his fruit. 35 The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they treated them the same way. 37 But afterward he sent to them his son, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But the farmers, when they saw the son, said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?" 41 They told him, "He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will lease out the vineyard to other farmers, who will give him the fruit in its season." 42 Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner. This was from the Lord. It is marvellous in our eyes?’ 43 "Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and will be given to a nation bringing forth its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it will fall, it will scatter him as dust." 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke about them. 46 When they sought to seize him, they feared the multitudes, because they considered him to be a prophet.

Matthew 22
22:1 Jesus answered and spoke again in parables to them, saying, 2 "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner. My cattle and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast!"’ 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise, 6 and the rest grabbed his servants, and treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 When the king heard that, he was angry, and sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 "Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. 9 Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.’ 10 Those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests. 11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn’t have on wedding clothing, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?’ He was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.’ 14 For many are called, but few chosen."
15 Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entrap him in his talk. 16 They sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are honest, and teach the way of God in truth, no matter whom you teach, for you aren’t partial to anyone. 17 Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the tax money." They brought to him a denarius. 20 He asked them, "Whose is this image and inscription?" 21 They said to him, "Caesar’s." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." 22 When they heard it, they marvelled, and left him, and went away.
23 On that day Sadducees (those who say that there is no resurrection) came to him. They asked him, 24 saying, "Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed for his brother.’ 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first married and died, and having no seed left his wife to his brother. 26 In the same way, the second also, and the third, to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection therefore, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had her." 29 But Jesus answered them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like God’s angels in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ’I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." 33 When the multitudes heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
34 But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him. 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, "’you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "Of David." 43 He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 ’The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?’ 45 "If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?" 46 No one was able to answer him a word, neither did any man dare ask him any more questions from that day forth.