The American Wisdom Series

Matthew #2548

This is another "is like", an analogy acted out in the physical dimension so that we can see and understand on the spiritual level.

The time is nearing for Jesus Christ to go to Jerusalem to pay the price on the cross to make it possible for lost souls to be forgiven of their sins and through believing in Him, even enter into eternal life. Remember that with man and man's ways it is impossible to enter into life, but through Him, because He came and defeated death, even Satan himself (Heb. 2:14), it is now possible. Matthew 19:25-26 "...Who then can be saved? [26] But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." You "see", without Him there is no other way we can pass from death to life, but through Him we have the victory over death and sing the Psalm:

1 Cor. 15:55-57
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

[56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

[57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We do give our thanks to God for His love in making it possible through His only begotten Son because we know of the awesome sacrifice that He made. To wit, that is the subject that opens our study today.
Matthew 20:17
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
Jesus took the twelve disciples aside for some serious talk, even to instruct them once again and lovingly prepare them for the events of the upcoming Passover that are about to take place where the sacrificial Lamb of God will be delivered up to be slain and die on the cross. That is the plan of God, the will of the Father, and you "see", that is the road they are now on and the "direction" in which they are traveling.
[18] Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death,
The chief priest was a kenite, a son of Cain, who was appointed by the Roman governor. He and the religious community he represented hated the truth of God which sets men free from the bondage of their unholy traditions. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ as one who serves and labours in the vineyard to bring our brothers and sisters to Him that their eyes may be opened to the truth which sets them free? Then remember also John 15:20 where Christ says to His disciples, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."Persecution comes with the territory of a true servant of God. So does the joy of seeing the spiritual eyes of our blind brothers and sisters opened whereby they turn to Him, to His Word, and follow Him.
[19] And shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again.
Again, we have the victory over death because He was willing to come down from above and defeat death, that is,the devil. Hebrews 2:14 "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."

Consider what He has just told His disciples regarding the suffering and death He must go through before He ascends to the throne as we read the next event that takes place.

[20] Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him.
This would be James and John the sons of Zebedee. The three approached Christ together with a common purpose and with Mom as the spokesperson, to ask Christ for a favor in fulfilling a "desire" they have, which is to sit right next to Christ in the kingdom. Incredible as it is, this follows on the heal of the teaching of the parable of the labourers in the vineyard which concerned the complete fairness (righteousness) of our Father in dealing with each and every child according to that which he or she deserves, not with preferential treatment. Remember it is written in Acts 10:34, that "God is no respecter of persons!"

Let's see what special request Mom is going to ask for her boys. Keep in mind that she is a loving mother and God fearing woman who worships the Lord (vs. 20) and she is not trying to hurt anyone. She only desires the best for her sons. What she hasn't done is to "count the cost" in that the best in this case comes with an awesome price of service and sacrifice!

[21] And He said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
This is given to us because it is a common thought among the disciples of Christ, both then and now, as to their position in the kingdom. If you are one who has never had that thought, then I stand corrected. Some even seem consumed by the thought as to where they fit in, i.e. amongst the 7,000, the 144,000, etc. After all, we are still in these flesh bodies and at times we let the flesh do our thinking for us instead of the inner man. One of the things we all need to learn and keep fresh in our minds is that the events that took place and the teachings of Christ are grounded in reality and apply to real life today. We especially need to be reminded at times that true servants of Christ are not of this world (Jn. 17:14-16), even as Christ is not of this world (Jn. 8:23), even as Christ's kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36).

Here is the Lord's response concerning the special request:

[22] But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
As many of us do before we ask the Lord in prayer to fulfill a desire, Mom had not really given any serious "blepo" to the consequences of what she had just asked for the boys, which would be for them to drink of the same cup as Christ would drink. That is precisely why He asked the question concerning their spiritual fitness and ability to do so. Of course Mom did not have the advantage after the fact of picturing Mary standing at the foot of the cross with her precious Son hanging to die as a criminal before her eyes. Get the point? "You know not what you ask", Mom.

Anyway, John and James both said they were able to drink of the cup that He shall drink of, and so it would come to pass that they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and serve Christ and later Herod would stretch forth his hand and kill James the brother of John (Acts 12:2) and John would be martyred (according to tradition).

[23] And He saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
Once again the former teachings of Christ must be kept in mind in order to understand more of His teachings. Pretty soon, with enough prayer and study, one can rightly divide the word of truth and become a labourer (workman) with whom God approves and is greatly pleased. (2 Tim. 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.")

To that end, if we think back on what we have learned in the last few lessons we should have some pretty good insight as to the "whom it is prepared of (for)" that Christ is speaking about. It shall be given to those who are destined, as in predestinated, as in chosen before the foundation of this world! Remember we learned in the last chapter in the parable of the labourers in the vineyard that the first who followed Him in the first earth age shall be the last to be born and serve Him in this flesh age. It is they who shall receive the first rewards and sit on thrones to "rule and reign with Christ a thousand years". Here is a refresher of what Christ said.

Matthew 19:28-30
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [29] And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. [30] But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
The reason "many" is used instead of all is that some of those first, like the disciples, have already passed through the vineyard. Here is a little more to add to the subject.
Rev. 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
There are actually two groups mentioned in this verse by John. Those that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and those in this final generation (the last to labor in the vineyard) who are called and sealed (Rev. 7) and who overcome the beast.

Now back to the scene of the special request where things are beginning to unravel among the disciples as the other 10 disciples develop "attitude".

[24] And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
Christ wasn't moved with indignation against John and James, but the other disciples were. Seems things have gotten a little out of hand with the disciples and perhaps they all have momentarily lost their focus. Has that ever happen to you? It has to me and I'll be the first to admit it. And when it happens it signals the time that it's back to school with the Word of God!
[25] But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
That's just the way the kings and the kingdoms of this world are! For the most part they lord over people, even to the point of oppression, and most are very self-serving! But remember again that Christ's kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and the kings and priests of His kingdom do not lord over the people but are rather servants of the people! "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

Thought for the day: Do you think that a Christian government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" would work, i.e. where God fearing leaders actually served the people instead of ungodly leaders serving themselves? It would until the people were drawn away from His Word and began to allow "the beasts of the earth", like the bear, the lion, and the leopard to rise up and take over. Just a thought! Nevertheless, be assured that God is in complete control and His plan is coming to pass in these last days exactly as it is written.

So how does the kingdom of God differ from the kingdoms of this world?

[26] But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Being great in the kingdom of God is not a matter of special favor but of "whosoever forsakes all and follows Him". The simple words of Christ are that if you want to be great, then serve your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, especially those who are hungry, and thirsty, and naked, and imprisoned (bound) by the traditions of men. That doesn't mean you have to go out and become a preacher, etc., for there are many ways that you can be a big help to the family, even with a just a few encouraging or comforting words to a brother in need, and our Father will love you for it.

When the Lord talks about the hungry, and thirsty, and naked He isn't talking about serving them beef steaks, water and giving them trousers to wear! No,He's referring to teaching them about His Body, His Blood, and Righteousness which is the clothing of saints.

[27] And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
You see, the kingdom of heaven works just the opposite of the way the world operates, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it works just the opposite of the way many churches operate too, where the preachers or priests, etc., exalt themselves above the "lay people" with fancy titles and fancy robes.Show me in the Word of God where one of His prophets or disciples ever exalted himself above their brethren. Did Paul? Did Jeremiah? Did Peter? On the contrary, even the apostle John who wrote a gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelation, considered himself to be one of the brethren. Here is what he said:
Rev. 1:9
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Note: Those with eyes to see will note the striking association to the churches of Philadelphia (your brother) and Smyrna (companions in tribulation).Revelation, chapters 2 & 3. See pamphlets #1834 & #1835
Matthew 20:28
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Christ came to minister, to teach and serve, and to make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross as "a ransom for many". In other words, the King of kings and Lord of lords Himself, came not to serve Himself or to be served, but to serve others! How about you His servant? Did He send you here to serve yourself, or to labour in the vineyard for the Lord by serving your brothers and sisters? Think about it! If you have a purpose and a destiny, then this walk to Jerusalem is not about you but about serving your brothers and sisters who are blind and naked and lame. We will cover more of this in chapter 25 but here's a preview.
Matthew 25:31-40
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of His glory:
This is the time when the rewards and the just recompense is meted out with justice and fairness to all.
[32] And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats:

[33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

[34] Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Once again, the kingdom has been prepared "from the foundation of the world" which is before the overthrow of Satan!
[35] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: [36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
The multitudes read this but most cannot elevate their thinking from the flesh to the spiritual level. In other words, they think that feeding the homeless and taking up collections to give to the poor is what Christ is talking about here. They are like the rich man looking to do "good works", to benefit himself! Again, there is nothing wrong with helping the downtrodden and being charitable and for sure we are to support the widows and orphans, etc.. But it is the spiritual food, the giving of the bread of life and the living water that quenches one's thirst that Christ is talking about.
[37] Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? [39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
Again, we will cover each of these as they relate to the spiritual hunger and sickness, the spiritual nakedness, and the spiritual blindness and imprisonment of our people, a few chapters hence.
[40] And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
These are things that a true servant of God does. All right, lets hit the road and see an example of the kind of service Christ is talking about!
Matthew 20:29
And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
Remember from verse one that they were on their way to Jerusalem. Jericho was along the way near the north shore of the Dead Sea in the tribe of Benjamin, located between Jerusalem and the Jordan River. Notice that a great multitude followed Him.
[30] And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
There are several accounts of Christ healing the blind, all of which are analogies ("is likes") to the opening of the eyes that one might have the ability to see the things that are spiritual and to know the truth. So these two blind men, sitting by the way side (no mention of them being beggars), "heard with their ears" that the Lord, the Son of David which identifies Him as The Messiah, passed by and their ears perked up! So they began to cry out and to entreat Him. Remember that the time is now drawing near to the crucifixion and they are all on the road to Jerusalem.
[31] And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
The multitude rebuked them? What kind of service to the "blind" who desire to "see" is that?Seems they are only concerned about themselves, wouldn't you say?

There is much said in this verse concerning the multitude. You see, the subject we just covered is that "he that is greatest among you" is willing to be a servant and minister unto others.Now the multitude, main stream churchianity who is "following Christ", is rebuking two "blind men" who desire to have their eyes opened that they may "see" spiritually and follow Him. But alas, they are accused of causing an uproar among the multitude just as it disturbs and bothers many in the "main stream" today when someone cries out for truth.

"Have mercy on us", they cried as they humbled themselves before the Lord!They knew that they were undeserving of His grace, even as God's elect know it all too well. But again, the multitude wants them to "shut up" and keep quiet. They just want to stay on the road and follow along! Hey, if you want to join us on the road and go to church, fine! But we don't have time to stop by the wayside and be bothered to help you "see"!Well, it seems the rebuking of the multitude did not deter the strong desire of those who know they are blind and wish to "see"! In fact, you might say the rebuking by the "don't bother us" even backfired in that it prompted the two blind men to cry out even more!

[32] And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
Jesus stopped what He was doing, which was to go to Jerusalem to be delivered up and pay the price for all those who are willing to humble themselves and ask for His mercy, and He stood still and called them by saying "What will ye...?", though He knew they were ready and willing to come to Him to be healed of their "blindness"!
[33] They say unto Him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
This is another "is like", an analogy acted out in the physical dimension so that we can see and understand on the spiritual level.The point is, having spiritual eyes to see has nothing to do with having flesh eyes that see the things of this world. In fact, many times if you close your flesh eyes it helps you to "see" the things that are spiritual.
[34] So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.
It sure is a good thing that the multitude didn't have their way, isn't it? Let this serve as an example for us all to see that the King of kings and Lord of lords, the greatest One of all, was willing to stop "by the wayside" and be still and listen to the crying out of two blind men who desired to know the truth. And all it took was one touch from the Living Word of God and just like that... their eyes received sight and they began to follow Christ. That little sacrifice was just too much to handle for the multitudes, wasn't it?

Would you like to be great and sit on a throne next to Jesus Christ in the kingdom? Have you considered the cup? Well, let's bring it down to reality where the rubber meets the road and ask a different question.Are you willing to stop by the wayside and take time from your busy schedule to help a brother or sister who is spiritually blind and crying out to know the truth, or would you rather he or she not bother you so you can get on down the road and get on with "your" life? Stopping to help them wouldn't kill you, you know!

Your actions, not your answer, determines how great you really are!

To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

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