Matthew 20:17-34, August 30, 2020
The Cup of the Servant
Review 20:1-16 Look first is the last verse of this parable 16 and compare it with verse 30 of the prior chapter.
19:30 – many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first
20:16 – So the last will be first, and the first will be last
No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, you are not beyond the reach of God’s divine love. It is not possible to have reached a point so very low that Christ’s atonement cannot reach you, cannot pay for your sins.
It is never too late, so long as the master of the vineyard says there is time.
We serve the Lord because we love and trust the Lord and for no other reason. We know apart from faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith we only have a contract. With faith, we have Joy and that Joy comes from knowing Jesus came to satisfy the demands of the law, paying the price for our sins. And He did just that.
Our sins were paid for by the punishment Jesus received. What is left? GRACE! We have a love relationship with God because of Grace. This parable is about nothing less than God’s love for each and every one of us.
20:17-19 Jesus foretells His death and resurrection a third time. (NOTE: The first may be found in Mark 8:31-33 and Luke 9:21-22. The second in Mark 9:30-32 and Luke 9:43-45. The third in Mark 10:32-34 and Luke 18:31-33.) This time Jesus provides much more detail than the first two times.
Luke in 18:34 adds the following comment, The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what He was talking about.
Why didn’t they know what He was talking about? Listen to Peter in 19:27, We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us? The disciples were responding like the seed in the Parable of the Sower in 13:22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Are we any different?
20:20-23 Making Luke’s point, right after Jesus foretells of His death and resurrection, the mother of James and John makes a request of Jesus. James and John were aka ‘Sons of Thunder’ so named by Jesus in Mark 3:17. In Luke 9:54 they asked Jesus, Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them [a Samaritan village]?) However, here it is their mother making the request. Not them. So much for the Sons of Thunder.
Before we talk about the cup, did any of you wonder and try to guess who God the Father would pick to sit on Jesus’ right and left? I did. Could not help myself. Initially I thought Abraham and Moses. Then I started thinking about the last being first and came up with different answers. One from the OT and one from the NT. Ruth from the OT and the poor widow from the NT.
Going back to the cup, these two brave souls who did not have the courage to ask Jesus directly and so had their mother ask Him, answered His question, Can you drink the cup I am going to drink, without hesitation, We can! But they, as yet, had no idea what it would mean to drink from the cup Jesus was going to drink from. Looking ahead to 26:39 we find Jesus praying, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. All we need to do is go back a few verses and we know what Jesus’ future cup will consist of – mocking, flogging, and crucifixion not to mention betrayal and desertion. James would be the first disciple put to death. Acts 12:2 tells us
King Herod Agrippa, He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. But earlier in Acts 5 standing before the Sanhedrin facing a possible death sentence, instead
Then in 2 Timothy 3:12
[The “essence” of persecution consists in “subjecting a person to injury or disadvantage on account of his opinions.”] and also Philippians 3:10
20:24-28 Of course, when the other disciples found out about the attempted ‘end run’ they were angry as they did not yet understand the cup Jesus would drink from. Thus, Jesus once again explains the first will be last and the last will be first using different terminology. Whoever wants to be great in the kingdom of God must be a servant here.
20:29-34 Then as they leave Jericho headed straight into Jerusalem (14 miles as the crow flies). He completes His last miracle prior to His arrest. Notice, as with all of His miracles, there is no great fanfare here, He simply has compassion on them and heals them.
Bottom Line: How are we going to live? Will we willingly drink from Jesus cup? Do we want to live a godly life in Christ? Or will we do our best to blend into the culture?