Exhortation 18/1/04 - Reading Matthew 20 - Bro T.E.
2004年1月18号 劝勉词 马太福音20章 提姆 弟兄
Dear Brother & Sisters,
In our readings in Matthew 20 we see our Lord Jesus approaching Jerusalem, knowing that here he would face shame and suffering and offer his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. This is the sacrifice we come to remember this morning.
Many expected that he was going to Jerusalem to set up his Kingdom immediately-they were unaware that the Messiah, whose coming was prophesied as the great deliverer of the nation of Israel, would first have to suffer and die. Jesus tried to explain this to his disciples: "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, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again" (Matt 20:17-19). Even after this they still did not understand. It was only after Jesus was raised from the dead that they grasped this fully as he explained to them: "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day" (Luke 24:44-46).
So on the way to Jerusalem Jesus gave the disciples a parable to ensure that they correctly understood how they should enter the Kingdom of God. If we look at the end of Matthew 19 Peter had just asked the question, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" (v27). He wanted to know what they would receive in the Kingdom in return for every thing they had given up because of their discipleship to Christ. Jesus answered Peter's question by assuring him that all who had given up the pleasures and achievement of this world would receive great reward in the Kingdom. He said of the disciples: "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" (v27-30). However his answer has a message for us, his disciples today, too. If we forsake all in this world so that we can follow Christ we will receive "an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life". Then Jesus in chapter 20 speaks a parable because of the underlying attitude which was seen in the question of Peter. Peter had almost suggested that a special place in the Kingdom could be earned by what they had done.
In the parable Jesus speaks of two classes of servants. Both classes went to work in the householder's vineyard, which is a symbol of giving service to God. The householder represents the Lord Jesus Christ who is involved in calling those who would be saved. The difference between these two classes of servants is their attitude to what they were doing. One group of labourers, those that were hired later in the day, were prepared to work with no mention of the exact payment they were to receive. The householder had said to them: "Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way" (v4 & 7).
在耶稣所讲的两种仆人的寓言当中，两种仆人都在葡萄园中工作，葡萄园的工作象征着都在服侍神，家主象征着耶稣基督，他在召唤人蒙恩得拯救，两种人的差别是他们对待工作的态度。第一类工人，他们是那天晚上才被雇佣的，他们开始工作，并没有提到他们要收到多少的报酬。家主对他们说：“你们也进葡萄园去，所当给的，我必给你们。他们也进去了。”（4节7节）另外做工的人很显然是和家主讨价还价过，因为家主是“和工人讲定一天一钱银子，就打发他们进葡萄园去”的。（第2节）。对他们来说，做工就像一场生意上的交易。在最后， 当家主付给 所商定的工钱的时候，他们不满意，觉得家主对自己不公平。这种态度和马太福音19章27节记载的彼得问耶稣问题时的态度类似。
The other group of labourers apparently first discussed what they would be paid for we read: "And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard" (v2). To them it was a business deal. At the end of the day when the labourers were paid those who had agreed to work for a penny a day complained and felt they had been treated unfairly. This was similar to the attitude that was beginning to show in the question that Peter asked in Matthew 19:27.
In the parable we see that this type of attitude was suitably punished. In verse 14 we see that the labourers that complained about their wages were sent out of the vineyard: "Go thy way", the master said. No doubt the process of harvesting the vineyard took many days but the master of the vineyard decided that these labourers were unfit to be further involved in this work. (It appears that when they were hired in verse 2 it was originally intended that they would work for a number of days and they would receive a penny for each day's service.) They received some reward for their labours, the one penny, but they would not participate in the joyful feast that usually took place as the end of the harvest (1 Sam 25:2,36; Ruth 3:2-3,7).
The lessons of this parable are very relevant to our remembrance today. As we come to examine our service to God we should ask ourselves what is the underlying motivation in our service. Do we serve, trusting that our Lord will give us a suitable reward for service when he comes? Or do we serve for what we will get out of that service? Above all we should ask how we view the reward that God, through the work of Christ, has promised us. Do we see this as the payment of something we have earned? This should never be the case. We should realise that anything that we do can never entitle us to receive the kingdom. Jesus pointed out on another occasion that even if we do all we are asked we are still unprofitable servants:
"So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). Our entry into the Kingdom of God will be because of the great mercy of God by which all our sins are forgiven, rather than because we have earned the right to eternal life: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 6:23).
One of the reasons that the unfaithful servants found fault and were rejected was due to the fact that they were comparing themselves with their fellow labourers. As we come to examine ourselves today we should note that our basis of comparison is the perfect example of Christ. This is the goal that we strive for. Paul when writing to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 10:12) speaks of the fact that it is not wise to compare ourselves with others. As we can see from this parable the temptation with this type of comparison is to focus on how we are better than other people, rather than identifying, confessing and forsaking those things which we have not done right.
The next incident in this record shows that James, John and their mother did not immediately learn the lesson of the parable that Jesus had taught them. They came to him to request a special position in the kingdom which meant that they would have prominence over the other disciples. All the disciples had just been told that they would sit on thrones in Christ's kingdom (Matthew 19:28). It was the same spirit as that shown by the unfaithful servants in the parable who thought that they should 'receive more' (v10). This is the reason why the other disciples were very displeased at the request (v24). In fact this lesson was difficult for all disciples (even us!) to learn and even at the last supper, immediately before his arrest by the Jews, Jesus reminded them of this lesson by washing their feet. In this act he taught that they should seek to serve each other and not be above each other (John 13:14). Therefore Jesus said to the disciples: "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:27-28).
接下来的一个事件告诉我们，雅各、约翰和他们的母亲并没有领会耶稣比喻中的意义。他们向耶稣要求一个特别的位置，要比其他门徒更加突出。耶稣在马太福音19章28节已经告诉门徒们他们要坐在神国的宝座上。他们的要求实际上和耶稣的比喻当中那个 “以为必要多得” 的仆人（10节）的想法是一样的。难怪其他门徒对此不高兴。（24节）事实上，门徒门是很难理解这个故事的含义的，（甚至我们！），即使是在最后的晚餐当中，耶稣被捕以前，还通过给门徒门洗脚来提醒他们吸取这个教训，教导他们要互相服侍，不要将自己放在别人之上。（约翰福音13：14），耶稣对他门徒说：“你们中间谁愿为大，就必作你们的用人。 谁愿为首，就必作你们的仆人。”（马太福音20：27-28）
Although encouraging them to have the attitude of servants, Jesus does not directly tell James and
John that they would not be the ones to sit at his right and left hand. Rather Jesus said, "It shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father"-God would decide this (v23). He was actually asking them to have a similar attitude to that of the faithful labourers in the vineyard who, rather than agreeing to labour for a specific amount (one penny - v2), were happy to work, knowing that they would be paid 'whatsover was right' (v4).
As they moved on toward Jerusalem, the next incident that is recorded is that of the healing of the two blind men. Jesus also uses this incident to illustrate to James and John the importance of humility. There is a certain similarity between these two scenes. Jesus is once again being asked by two men to do something for them. Jesus responds to the request of the blind men in a very similar way to the favour asked by James and John. It would seem quite obvious what it was that these blind men wanted from Jesus and yet He specifically asks, "What will ye that I shall do unto you?" Jesus had previously said to James and John, "What wilt thou?" (v21). Jesus responded in this way because He wanted James and John to see the difference between this request and their own question. The blind men merely wanted to be able to see-they were not worried about their position or standing in front of other people. To this request Jesus was able to respond and healed them both immediately.
The disciples were right in their earnest desire for the Kingdom to come and we should learn from their example in this regard. As Peter had said in Matthew 19:27, they had forsaken all and followed him and received the certain encouragement from Christ in this chapter that they would be accepted into the Kingdom. We too have this marvellous hope. In fact we have been promised something similar to the promise given to the disciples in Matthew 19:28. All the faithful have been promised that they will be kings and priests and will reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6). Surely the reward which we will be given, if found worthy at Christ's return, is far more than we ever deserve. The very natural desire of competition between individuals is totally removed when we understand the greatness of what God has given us. Any rivalry becomes totally unimportant in comparison. We have opportunity today to examine ourselves against the example of Christ himself, and what greater example can we look to, because he perfectly served his God.
门徒们盼望进入神国的急切心情是可以理解的，也是我们应该学习的。就如彼得在马太福音19：27节中说的那样， 他已经撇下所有的跟从耶稣，耶稣也鼓励他们，因为他们将来能够进入神国。我们也享有这种伟大的盼望，事实上我们也有类似于马太福音19章28节应许，就是“作神和基督的祭司，并要与基督一同作王”（启示录20：6），我们肯定如果基督回来，认为我们值得奖赏，这奖赏肯定会来。而不是我们自己认为我们值得这个奖赏。如果我们明白 神赐给我们的是多么伟大赏赐，我们之间的分歧就会变得完全不重要了。我们今天就有对造耶稣基督省查自己的机会，因为耶稣是我们能够仰望的伟大榜样，因为他完美地做神的工作。
When we consider our service to God in comparison with Christ's, we begin to understand how many times we have not been obedient and that we are unworthy servants. Yet we also know that through Christ we can, by the grace of God, receive forgiveness of our sins and still inherit the Kingdom which has been provided for us by our loving heavenly Father.
In that day when the apostles sit on thrones ruling over the 12 tribes of Israel and we, by God's grace, are given the crowns belonging to those that are made kings and priests, we will give glory and honour to the king of kings and lord of lords saying: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
As we now partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of our Lord's perfect obedience and victory over sin and death let us determine to serve our God as he did, not comparing our service with that of our brethren and sisters, but rather with him who has set that example for us to follow.