Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 23 - Matthew 20

Today's reading in our daily plan is Matthew 20. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Jesus uses a story about day laborers to convey a truth about the kingdom of God. His conclusion that "the last will be first and the first will be last” means that values in the kingdom of God are different than the values of the world.
  • The mother of two disciples asks Jesus to elevate her sons to authoritative and honored positions in Jesus’ kingdom. He responds by saying that it's God who decides these things, and then prophesies that James and John will suffer like Jesus is going to.
  • The other disciples become indignant with the two brothers when they hear the conversation. Jesus uses this moment to share a key characteristic of his followers: the greatest among them are those who serve others. He contrasts this value with the world’s way of thinking when he says, “the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… not so with you.” Leadership in the kingdom of God is different. Jesus uses himself as an example (verse 28) to show that leadership means serving.
  • Two blind men start shouting when they hear Jesus nearby. Jesus asks them directly what they want, and then gives them sight. Immediately they receive sight and follow Jesus.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • In this chapter we learn some important principles about God's kingdom. It doesn't work according to the world's rules. It's available to anyone who, like the blind men, call out to Jesus for mercy. You can't earn your way into it, or earn anything from God once you're in it. It lives by the rules of grace, not like a typical job where you get paid for what you do. And the way to the top is not through powering and bossing others around, but by being a servant to all.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Consider how you think about things and live your life. Does your approach go more with the ways of this world, or the ways of God's Kingdom? It's easy to live the world's way, since we've done it so long and are surrounded by it every day. But we need to choose to fully live according to God's Kingdom. Part of that is making the choice to do so.
  • A second step is to learn the Bible (by reading it, discussing it, listening to sermons, etc.) so it starts to shape your thinking. A third step is to start to identify what (in your thinking and in this world) doesn't fit with God's Kingdom and reject those ideas. Ask God to help you with this!