Suffering, Serving, Saving

November 9, 2014

Topic: Matthew Passage: Matthew 20:17–20:34

“Matthew: Gospel of the Grace of God”

Matt. 20:17-34

In this 2nd half of Matthew 20, we see:
3 KEY EVENTS are found in these verses:
Jesus’ 3rd PREDICTION of His PASSION (vs.17-19);
The disciples’ continuing effort to be FIRST in His KINGDOM (vs.20-28);
The HEALING of the two BLIND men (vs.29-34).
First, Jesus speaks once again of His:


Jesus & the 12 were going to JERUSALEM - & He was GOING there to DIE.
This is His THIRD & LAST prediction of His coming SUFFERING & DEATH:
In this THIRD prediction, Jesus gives NEW DETAILS about His upcoming suffering. He specifies:
ALL of this only underscores what God had PROPHESIED for CENTURIES, & Jesus had TAUGHT throughout His ministry: the ONLY WAY for Jesus to reach His THRONE was by way of the CROSS: Isa. 53:4-6.
“The exalted Son of Man must first become God’s Suffering Servant.” (Craig Blomberg)

WHY did Jesus have to REPEAT His prediction of death & resurrection?
Because the disciples did NOT GET it;
Because they needed to learn that the self-denial, humility, & service of HIS life was to be THEIRS as well.
These were obviously HARD lessons for them to learn. “Like their fellow Jews, the disciples were looking for a lion, not a lamb.” (John MacArthur)

But apparently, at this point, His repeated teaching is beginning to SINK IN.
Mark 10:32: “And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.”
Remember, the 12 had ABANDONED EVERYTHING to FOLLOW Jesus.
Now, it seems as if their dreams would be RUINED, & they could make NO SENSE of what was about to happen.
The BEST they could seem to do was to have an attitude of stoic RESIGNATION, as expressed by Thomas, who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16b)
Jesus NOT ONLY had told them that HE was going to suffer & die; He had ALSO emphasized that THEY would have to endure suffering as well: Matt. 16:24.
And so, in many ways, Peter’s QUESTION expresses their primary CONCERN: 19:27.
All this leads to Jesus’ important TEACHING on:


V.20 – apparently, when Jesus spoke once again of HIS OWN upcoming suffering, the disciples had NO COMMENT.
But they DID want to secure THEIR OWN future.
Mark 10:35: “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’”
NOTHING could sound more CHILDISH or SELFISH than that! PROMISE you will GIVE us what we want, BEFORE we tell you WHAT we want.
There is a FAMILY connection here too. “The mother of the sons of Zebedee” was Salome, the SISTER of MARY, the mother of Jesus.
Therefore, she was Jesus’ AUNT, & her sons James & John were His FIRST COUSINS.

V.21 – here, the disciples sound a lot like the ENEMIES of Jesus, the scribes & Pharisees, who “love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues.” (Matt. 23:6)
Apparently, DESPITE His clear & repeated TEACHING, they still thought that Jesus was going up to Jerusalem in order to SET UP His KINGDOM.
Luke 19:11 says that “he was near to Jerusalem, and . . . they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.”
And, remember what Jesus had earlier PROMISED the 12: 19:28. ANY two of those 12 thrones was apparently NOT ENOUGH for the sons of Salome; they deserved the BEST two, the two NEAREST Jesus.
We do need to see, on the positive side, that there is a display of FAITH here: the kingdom had not yet been ESTABLISHED; in fact, there was NO SIGN of it, but they believed that there WOULD BE a kingdom.

v.22 – to even ASK such a question proved that they still did not understand the NATURE of His kingdom, NOR their PLACE in that kingdom.
Like PETER, they were far TOO CONFIDENT in themselves. That over-confidence was PROVEN when they RAN AWAY from Jesus in Gethsemane.
“To drink the cup” means to be willing to endure the absolute LIMITS of SUFFERING; to SUFFER to the FULL EXTENT.
Jesus KNEW what that cup HELD; that is why He prayed so FERVENTLY in the Garden, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39b)
Salome LEARNED her LESSON, by the way. As she later stood by the CROSS of Jesus, she did not see two THRONES on either side of Him; only 2 more crosses.

This calls for another LESSON from the TEACHER: vs.23-28.
This WORLD, Jesus says, operates like a PYRAMID, with all the POWER at the TOP.
But in the KINGDOM, the pyramid is INVERTED, & those who are the GREATEST are those who are the most WILLING to SERVE others.
V.26b – “servant” is diakonos in the Greek, which gives us our word “DEACON,” describing those who served on the LOWEST scale & in the most BASIC way.
V.27 – “slave” is doulos in the Greek, meaning one whose life was even LOWER & more DEMANDING than that of a servant. One could go NO LOWER than a SLAVE. - & JESUS was willing TO GO that low: v.28.
This was the very OPPOSITE of what James & John WANTED!
Though “he was in the form of God,” Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” (Phil. 2:6-7a)
John 13:1-5, 12-17.
“If you want to be GREAT,” Jesus is saying, “be LIKE ME.”
But the 12 CONTINUED having trouble LEARNING this lesson. In the Upper Room, immediately following the Lord’s Supper, “A dispute arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” (Luke 22:24)

But Jesus came to DO MORE than SERVE; He came to DIE as OUR RANSOM: v.28; Rom. 8:1-4.
Fittingly, the final part of Matthew 20 shows Jesus:


Jesus, God’s ALL-POWERFUL Son, could have used those powers to SAVE HIMSELF – instead, He uses that power to HEAL two apparently UNIMPORTANT BLIND men.
In DOING so, He puts into PRACTICE what He had just TAUGHT the disciples; He became a SERVANT to two BLIND BEGGARS.
Vs.29-31 – these men were SCREAMING with the voices of those who were truly DESPERATE, as though they sensed that this was their LAST & ONLY CHANCE to be healed.
They would have NEVER walked AWAY from Jesus, as the Rich Young Ruler did; but after all, he was merely INTERESTED; they were DESPERATE.
But, as God promised, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13, NASB) And that is exactly what these men did.
WHY did Jesus choose to HEAL these men? Because, like always, He was “moved with compassion” (NASB) toward those who were LOST & HURTING - & He STILL is TODAY.
“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:4)
But JESUS CAME “to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4:18b)
God OPENED the spiritual EYES of these two men, so that they could SEE that Jesus was their ONLY HOPE.
They PUT their TRUST in Him – “and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.” (v.34b)

What will YOU & I do?
These two blind men REPRESENT the DISCIPLES, AND US:
We are spiritually POOR;
OTHERS cannot HELP us, for THEY ALSO are blind.
JESUS is our ONLY HOPE - & that is precisely WHY He CAME.


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