Matthew 20* The parable of the labourers in the vineyard. (1-16) Jesusagain foretells his sufferings. (17-19) The ambition of Jamesand John. (20-28) Jesus gives sight to two blind men nearJericho. (29-34)1-16 The direct object of this parable seems to be, to showthat though the Jews were first called into the vineyard, atlength the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and theyshould be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with theJews. The parable may also be applied more generally, and shows,1. That God is debtor to no man. 2. That many who begin last,and promise little in religion, sometimes, by the blessing ofGod, arrive at a great deal of knowledge, grace, and usefulness.3. That the recompense of reward will be given to the saints,but not according to the time of their conversion. It describesthe state of the visible church, and explains the declarationthat the last shall be first, and the first last, in its variousreferences. Till we are hired into the service of God, we arestanding all the day idle: a sinful state, though a state ofdrudgery to Satan, may be called a state of idleness. Themarket-place is the world, and from that we are called by thegospel. Come, come from this market-place. Work for God will notadmit of trifling. A man may go idle to hell, but he that willgo to heaven, must be diligent. The Roman penny was sevenpencehalfpenny in our money, wages then enough for the day's support.This does not prove that the reward of our obedience to God isof works, or of debt; when we have done all, we are unprofitableservants; but it signifies that there is a reward set before us,yet let none, upon this presumption, put off repentance tillthey are old. Some were sent into the vineyard at the eleventhhour; but nobody had hired them before. The Gentiles came in atthe eleventh hour; the gospel had not been before preached tothem. Those that have had gospel offers made them at the thirdor sixth hour, and have refused them, will not have to say atthe eleventh hour, as these had, No man has hired us. Therefore,not to discourage any, but to awaken all, be it remembered, thatnow is the accepted time. The riches of Divine grace are loudlymurmured at, among proud Pharisees and nominal Christians. Thereis great proneness in us to think that we have too little, andothers too much of the tokens of God's favour; and that we dotoo much, and others too little in the work of God. But if Godgives grace to others, it is kindness to them, and no injusticeto us. Carnal worldlings agree with God for their penny in thisworld; and choose their portion in this life. Obedient believersagree with God for their penny in the other world, and mustremember they have so agreed. Didst not thou agree to take upwith heaven as thy portion, thy all; wilt thou seek forhappiness in the creature? God punishes none more than theydeserve, and recompenses every service done for him; hetherefore does no wrong to any, by showing extraordinary graceto some. See here the nature of envy. It is an evil eye, whichis displeased at the good of others, and desires their hurt. Itis a grief to ourselves, displeasing to God, and hurtful to ourneighbours: it is a sin that has neither pleasure, profit, norhonour. Let us forego every proud claim, and seek for salvationas a free gift. Let us never envy or grudge, but rejoice andpraise God for his mercy to others as well as to ourselves. 17-19 Christ is more particular here in foretelling hissufferings than before. And here, as before, he adds the mentionof his resurrection and his glory, to that of his death andsufferings, to encourage his disciples, and comfort them. Abelieving view of our once crucified and now glorified Redeemer,is good to humble a proud, self-justifying disposition. When weconsider the need of the humiliation and sufferings of the Sonof God, in order to the salvation of perishing sinners, surelywe must be aware of the freeness and richness of Divine grace inour salvation. 20-28 The sons of Zebedee abused what Christ said to comfortthe disciples. Some cannot have comforts but they turn them to awrong purpose. Pride is a sin that most easily besets us; it issinful ambition to outdo others in pomp and grandeur. To putdown the vanity and ambition of their request, Christ leads themto the thoughts of their sufferings. It is a bitter cup that isto be drunk of; a cup of trembling, but not the cup of thewicked. It is but a cup, it is but a draught, bitter perhaps,but soon emptied; it is a cup in the hand of a Father, #Joh18:11|. Baptism is an ordinance by which we are joined to theLord in covenant and communion; and so is suffering for Christ,#Eze 20:37; Isa 48:10|. Baptism is an outward and visible signof an inward and spiritual grace; and so is suffering forChrist, for unto us it is given, #Php 1:29|. But they knew notwhat Christ's cup was, nor what his baptism. Those are commonlymost confident, who are least acquainted with the cross. Nothingmakes more mischief among brethren, than desire of greatness.And we never find Christ's disciples quarrelling, but somethingof this was at the bottom of it. That man who labours mostdiligently, and suffers most patiently, seeking to do good tohis brethren, and to promote the salvation of souls, mostresembles Christ, and will be most honoured by him to alleternity. Our Lord speaks of his death in the terms applied tothe sacrifices of old. It is a sacrifice for the sins of men,and is that true and substantial sacrifice, which those of thelaw faintly and imperfectly represented. It was a ransom formany, enough for all, working upon many; and, if for many, thenthe poor trembling soul may say, Why not for me? 29-34 It is good for those under the same trial, or infirmityof body or mind, to join in prayer to God for relief, that theymay quicken and encourage one another. There is mercy enough inChrist for all that ask. They were earnest in prayer. They criedout as men in earnest. Cold desires beg denials. They werehumble in prayer, casting themselves upon, and referringthemselves cheerfully to, the Mediator's mercy. They showedfaith in prayer, by the title they gave to Christ. Surely it wasby the Holy Ghost that they called Jesus, Lord. They perseveredin prayer. When they were in pursuit of such mercy, it was notime for timidity or hesitation: they cried earnestly. Christencouraged them. The wants and burdens of the body we are soonsensible of, and can readily relate. Oh that we did as feelinglycomplain of our spiritual maladies, especially our spiritualblindness! Many are spiritually blind, yet say they see. Jesuscured these blind men; and when they had received sight, theyfollowed him. None follow Christ blindly. He first by his graceopens men's eyes, and so draws their hearts after him. Thesemiracles are our call to Jesus; may we hear it, and make it ourdaily prayer to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lordand Saviour Jesus Christ.
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