Matthew 20

* The parable of the labourers in the vineyard. (1-16) Jesus

again foretells his sufferings. (17-19) The ambition of James

and John. (20-28) Jesus gives sight to two blind men near

Jericho. (29-34)

1-16 The direct object of this parable seems to be, to show

that though the Jews were first called into the vineyard, at

length the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and they

should be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with the

Jews. 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 of

God, 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 describes

the state of the visible church, and explains the declaration

that the last shall be first, and the first last, in its various

references. Till we are hired into the service of God, we are

standing all the day idle: a sinful state, though a state of

drudgery to Satan, may be called a state of idleness. The

market-place is the world, and from that we are called by the

gospel. Come, come from this market-place. Work for God will not

admit of trifling. A man may go idle to hell, but he that will

go to heaven, must be diligent. The Roman penny was sevenpence

halfpenny in our money, wages then enough for the day's support.

This does not prove that the reward of our obedience to God is

of works, or of debt; when we have done all, we are unprofitable

servants; but it signifies that there is a reward set before us,

yet let none, upon this presumption, put off repentance till

they are old. Some were sent into the vineyard at the eleventh

hour; but nobody had hired them before. The Gentiles came in at

the eleventh hour; the gospel had not been before preached to

them. Those that have had gospel offers made them at the third

or sixth hour, and have refused them, will not have to say at

the eleventh hour, as these had, No man has hired us. Therefore,

not to discourage any, but to awaken all, be it remembered, that

now is the accepted time. The riches of Divine grace are loudly

murmured at, among proud Pharisees and nominal Christians. There

is great proneness in us to think that we have too little, and

others too much of the tokens of God's favour; and that we do

too much, and others too little in the work of God. But if God

gives grace to others, it is kindness to them, and no injustice

to us. Carnal worldlings agree with God for their penny in this

world; and choose their portion in this life. Obedient believers

agree with God for their penny in the other world, and must

remember they have so agreed. Didst not thou agree to take up

with heaven as thy portion, thy all; wilt thou seek for

happiness in the creature? God punishes none more than they

deserve, and recompenses every service done for him; he

therefore does no wrong to any, by showing extraordinary grace

to some. See here the nature of envy. It is an evil eye, which

is displeased at the good of others, and desires their hurt. It

is a grief to ourselves, displeasing to God, and hurtful to our

neighbours: it is a sin that has neither pleasure, profit, nor

honour. Let us forego every proud claim, and seek for salvation

as a free gift. Let us never envy or grudge, but rejoice and

praise God for his mercy to others as well as to ourselves.
17-19 Christ is more particular here in foretelling his

sufferings than before. And here, as before, he adds the mention

of his resurrection and his glory, to that of his death and

sufferings, to encourage his disciples, and comfort them. A

believing view of our once crucified and now glorified Redeemer,

is good to humble a proud, self-justifying disposition. When we

consider the need of the humiliation and sufferings of the Son

of God, in order to the salvation of perishing sinners, surely

we must be aware of the freeness and richness of Divine grace in

our salvation.
20-28 The sons of Zebedee abused what Christ said to comfort

the disciples. Some cannot have comforts but they turn them to a

wrong purpose. Pride is a sin that most easily besets us; it is

sinful ambition to outdo others in pomp and grandeur. To put

down the vanity and ambition of their request, Christ leads them

to the thoughts of their sufferings. It is a bitter cup that is

to be drunk of; a cup of trembling, but not the cup of the

wicked. 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, #Joh

18:11|. Baptism is an ordinance by which we are joined to the

Lord in covenant and communion; and so is suffering for Christ,

#Eze 20:37; Isa 48:10|. Baptism is an outward and visible sign

of an inward and spiritual grace; and so is suffering for

Christ, for unto us it is given, #Php 1:29|. But they knew not

what Christ's cup was, nor what his baptism. Those are commonly

most confident, who are least acquainted with the cross. Nothing

makes more mischief among brethren, than desire of greatness.

And we never find Christ's disciples quarrelling, but something

of this was at the bottom of it. That man who labours most

diligently, and suffers most patiently, seeking to do good to

his brethren, and to promote the salvation of souls, most

resembles Christ, and will be most honoured by him to all

eternity. Our Lord speaks of his death in the terms applied to

the sacrifices of old. It is a sacrifice for the sins of men,

and is that true and substantial sacrifice, which those of the

law faintly and imperfectly represented. It was a ransom for

many, enough for all, working upon many; and, if for many, then

the poor trembling soul may say, Why not for me?
29-34 It is good for those under the same trial, or infirmity

of body or mind, to join in prayer to God for relief, that they

may quicken and encourage one another. There is mercy enough in

Christ for all that ask. They were earnest in prayer. They cried

out as men in earnest. Cold desires beg denials. They were

humble in prayer, casting themselves upon, and referring

themselves cheerfully to, the Mediator's mercy. They showed

faith in prayer, by the title they gave to Christ. Surely it was

by the Holy Ghost that they called Jesus, Lord. They persevered

in prayer. When they were in pursuit of such mercy, it was no

time for timidity or hesitation: they cried earnestly. Christ

encouraged them. The wants and burdens of the body we are soon

sensible of, and can readily relate. Oh that we did as feelingly

complain of our spiritual maladies, especially our spiritual

blindness! Many are spiritually blind, yet say they see. Jesus

cured these blind men; and when they had received sight, they

followed him. None follow Christ blindly. He first by his grace

opens men's eyes, and so draws their hearts after him. These

miracles are our call to Jesus; may we hear it, and make it our

daily prayer to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord

and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Copyright information for MHCC