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"The First Shall Be Last, and the Last First"

(Chapter 20, verses 1-16)

 

     (1) "God's heavenly government is like a man, a land baron, who regularly goes out every summer morning to hire laborers to work on his farm. (2) After negotiations, he agreed that they should work for a denarius a day, and sent them to the farm. (3) After going out to the marketplace again, this time around 9 a.m., he noticed other unemployed men standing around looking for work, (4) so he said to them: ‘You're all hired. Go on to the farm, and I'll pay you a fair wage.' (5) They trusted him, and went on to work on the farm. He went back to the marketplace around noon and later around 3 p.m., and did the same thing all over again. (6) Finally, at approximately 5 p.m. he went out yet again and found others standing around looking for work. Concerned, he empathetically asked: ‘Why have you men been standing around unemployed all day?' (7) They replied: ‘We haven't been loafing; we're willing to work; it's just that nobody hired us.' He said to them: ‘All of you are hired now. Go ahead to the farm.'

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     (8) When 6 o'clock came, the land baron ordered his foreman, ‘Call everyone and pay them all a day's wage. First pay the most recent ones I hired, then work your way through the others until you get to the first ones I hired early this morning.' (9) When those hired at 5 o'clock came, they each got a denarius. All the other workers saw this, (10) so when the very first ones hired early in the morning came, they just assumed they would be paid more. They were wrong. They each received a denarius, the same as the last ones hired. (11) After they each got their money from the foreman they ignored him and went straight to the land baron, (12) protesting, ‘These 5 o'clock laborers only worked an hour and you paid them the same as us. Since we're the ones who've been working in the hot sun all day we should be paid more!' (13) In reply to the group's spokesman the land baron said, ‘Look man, I haven't done anything wrong here. Didn't we agree that you'd be paid a denarius? (14) Take your money, and get off my property. I'm going to pay the last man the same as you. (15) I mean, this is my payroll isn't it? By law, I can do whatever I want to with it, right? Or are you giving me the evil eye because I'm a generous employer?' (16) So it will be in God's government: the first shall be last, and the last first."

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Jesus Foretells Manner of Death

(Chapter 20, verses 17-19)

 

     (17) Preparing to go up to Jerusalem Jesus led his disciples to a private area off the road and told them: (18) "Comprehend what I'm about to tell you! We're going up to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be taken into custody and tried by the chief priests and scribes. Thereafter, he'll receive the death penalty; (19) be turned over to the Gentile enemy of the Jews to be made fun of; terrorized and tormented; then nailed to the stake, after which he'll be resurrected." 

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Apostolic Power Move

(Chapter 20, verses 20-23)

 

     (20) Then Zebedee's wife, the mother of James and John (two of Jesus' first four disciples) approached him with her sons, bowing respectfully as she did, to make a request. (21) Noticing her actions he asked: "What can I do for you?" She responded: "Give the order to have my two sons sit on either side of you when you assume rulership of God's heavenly government." (22) Jesus directed his answer to her sons and said: "You men don't know what you're asking. I just told all of you the horrible things that are about to happen to me. Can you deal with similar things happening to you?" They said to him: "We can handle it." (23) He countered: "Make no mistake about it. Similar horrible things will indeed happen to you. But who sits where when I govern God's kingdom is my Father's call, not mine.  

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Jesus Condemns Ecclesiastical Politics

(Chapter 20, verses 24-28)

 

     (24) When the other ten heard what James and John had requested, they were furious. (25)  To defuse the matter, Jesus immediately called a meeting and said: "Since you're familiar with the political apparatus as it operates in various nations, you know that worldly politicians exercise their clout over citizens, and that other powerful men flex their influential muscle over people. (26) As prospective rulers in God's heavenly government, don't be like them. On the contrary, whoever wants to be great among you must be servant to the rest, (27) and whoever wants first place among you must be a slave to the group. (28) This same self-sacrificing spirit is in the Son of Man who came, not to be served, but to serve others, and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for those kidnapped by sin and death."   

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Jesus Restores Sight to Blind Men

(Chapter 20, verses 29-34)

 

      (29) On their way out of Jericho a large crowd followed him. (30) What's that over there! Why, it's a couple of blind men are sitting beside the road! What's different about these blind men is that when they heard that Jesus was walking by, they yelled out above the bustle of the crowd, saying: "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" (31) People in the crowd told them to shut up. But instead of listening to them, they screamed louder, making the same request, saying: "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" (32) Jesus heard both men, stopped, turned and asked: "What do you guys want me to do for you?" (33) They answered: "Lord, cure our blindness." (34) Moved by deep empathy, Jesus touched their eyes, curing them right away, and they became his followers.