Kingdom Servants

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.” (Matthew 20:1–34, ESV)

The PayScale

Arbitrarily created expectations based on a subjective sense of fairness can be hurtful and presumption may lead to conflict. They vent their frustration toward the master and try to compare their work. Servants in the Kingdom should not desire what they deem to be fair; they should be grateful for the grace they have been afforded.

In the kingdom, service is its own reward. This parable speaks of a master going out to secure laborers for his vineyard. These laborers agree to the wages, understand the expectations, and proceed to do their job. The master goes out again at different times during the day and finds idle people and hires them all the way to the eleventh hour. At the end of the day, the master sends the foreman to gather the laborers so that they can be paid. All of the workers receive the same wages. However, the workers that had been hired first expected to receive more than those that had joined the workforce later in the day and when they did not they began to complain. Arbitrarily created expectations based on a subjective sense of fairness can be hurtful and presumption may lead to conflict. They vent their frustration toward the master and try to compare their work. Servants in the Kingdom should not desire what they deem to be fair; they should be grateful for the grace they have been afforded. The master reminded them that they had agreed to the terms and that he had honored their agreement. He also points out to them that the vineyard and the wages are his, and therefore it is his grace to extend any offer or compensation. Their opportunity was due to the master's generosity and the servant in the kingdom is satisfied with the grace that has been given regardless of the circumstances of others. The first in the kingdom will feel the least entitled.

A Reminder

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus takes the disciples aside privately to remind them of his impending death. They were traveling to a place and a set of events that would change the world forever. Jesus is very clear about what will happen to him. He would be betrayed into the hands of the religious leaders who would condemn him to death. The Gentiles would play a role in the gruesome proceedings, for they would beat him and crucify him. Jesus is equally straightforward about the fact that he would be raised on the third day.

My Boys

The mother of James and John comes to Jesus and makes a request that disturbs the group and causes no small controversy. She asks Jesus to be on the right and left of Jesus in the kingdom. She must not understand that the servants in the kingdom do not seek honor and privilege. They give themselves away and are last. Jesus explains that she misunderstands what she is asking because of the unspeakable suffering Jesus will endure. James and John declare that they are able and will drink the cup no matter the cost. Jesus says to them that they would drink his cup, but that he would not grant the places of position. The rest of the disciples are offended, and Jesus once again has to describe kingdom greatness. The greatest is the servant to all and Jesus, the Son of Man would exemplify this by serving all the way to death.

Son of David

Jesus and the disciples are headed out of Jericho with a massive following when they encounter two blind men. These men were sitting by the road when they hear that Jesus is coming their way. They may have been deprived of their physical sight, but the title they entreat Jesus with seems to indicate that they saw more clearly than those with the full use of their physical eyes. They call Jesus Lord and the Son of David as they ask for mercy. The crowd wants them to be quiet, but Jesus hears their cries and asks them how he may serve them. They want to see. Jesus, filled with pity, touches their eyes and immediately they receive their sight and join the happy throng. Their eyes were indeed opened by the servant who came to give his life as a ransom.