Questions Jesus Asked #36

Matthew 20:22 – “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

            “We can,” they answered. NIV

We continue the discussion of the sons of Zebedee and their mother with Jesus. They had the audacity to ask Jesus for positions of power in His kingdom. By worldly standards, they had every right to ask; but Jesus informs them that they really don’t know for what they are asking. Then He asks them if they have the right stuff to be able to endure what He will have to face.  Still not fully aware of what Jesus was talking about, they respond in the affirmative.

Jesus then informs them that they will indeed share the cup He is about to drink; but it is God-the Father’s call on who will sit in positions of authority in the kingdom.  Evidently, the other ten Disciples were either in earshot or someone told them about this whole conversation, and they become indignant at James and John because they felt that they should have a shot at those positions, too.  Teachable moment! Jesus sits them all down and says: Continue reading

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Questions Jesus Asked #35

Matthew 20:20-21 – Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

            21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

            She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” NIV

Salome (who quite possibly was the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary) came to Jesus and asked Him for a favor. It’s interesting that she is the one doing the asking. Could it be that “the sons of thunder” were asking their mother to seek this favor from Jesus? Mark’s Gospel (10:35) has the brothers asking Jesus themselves. Or is this just a mother wanting the best for her sons? I tend to think that it was a little of both because the brothers were with their mother and responded to Jesus’ follow-up question. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #34

Matthew 20:9-16 – “The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

            13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

            16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” NIV

Here is the remainder of the Jesus’ parable and the part that often causes much discussion. It’s the end of the laborer’s day and time to receive pay.  The owner calls them up beginning with the last workers hired. To everyone’s surprise, he pays these last guys hired a full day’s wage which immediately gets the workers hired first thing in the morning thinking that they will be getting a little extra just to be “fair.” To their surprise, the owner pays them a full day’s wage, also. They begin complaining about the “fairness” and “equity” of the situation. It is then that Jesus using the owner’s words asks the questions in the parable. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #33

Matthew 20:1-6 –  “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

   3 “About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

   “He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’”  NIV

Many of us look at this parable about the kingdom of heaven and say with the first hired workers that the pay isn’t “fair,” and we discuss the parable from that perspective. I’ll deal with that question next. First, let’s talk about this question. The landowner is not merely hiring workers to stand in the vineyard but to work in the vineyard. I take that to mean that Christ-followers are to join Jesus in His mission on earth according to how the Holy Spirit has gifted them.  This reflects the idea that as disciples of Jesus we are being equipped to become apostles of Jesus. Jesus’ intent for His first followers was that they would become apostles who would spread the Gospel throughout the world. I believe that is still His intent for those who choose to follow Him. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #32

Matthew 19:16-17 – Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

   17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”  NIV

This much commented on encounter with Jesus. The accounts by the different Gospel writers are basically the same but with a slight difference in what “good” modifies.  In Matthew’s account in the earliest texts, good does not modify teacher but seems to be translated good thing.  Luke’s Gospel (18:18) and Mark’s Gospel (10:17) seem to have good modifying teacher.  Luke identifies the man as a ruler, and all three mention that he had great wealth. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #31

Matthew 19:3-6 – Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

            4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” NIV

Just as there are questions about divorce today among religious people, there were questions in Jesus’ day.  The Pharisees who asked this question knew what Moses had written in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 about divorce.  There were at least two schools of thought about what constituted grounds for divorce. The Hebrew word translated as indecent, uncleanness, or offensive is somewhat vague. Was Moses talking about a moral offense or just any offense? Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #30

Matthew 18:12-14 – “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” NIV

Matthew 18 begins with the disciples asking Jesus a question: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  I not sure exactly why they asked Him this question. It could have been just curiosity, or it could have been that they wanted to hear Jesus say: “All of you first-followers of me are the greatest!” This time Jesus doesn’t answer their question with a question but with an object lesson and shocking declaration. Continue reading