Jesus Saw What the Crowds Couldn’t See

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34

Why did the crowd rebuke those asking for mercy? What was the crowd’s “end” goal here?

What did Jesus see in these blind men that the crowd couldn’t see? Ironic, isn’t it?

The blind men were persistent enough because they knew that Jesus would have compassion on them.

The crowd passed them by and looked the other way. They essentially blew off the blind men.

Even though the crowds followed Him everywhere, he sought out the individual to minister life to.

Jesus saw faith in these men. They might not have known how He could help, only that He could.

We pass by these people all the time: the immigrant who is still struggling to learn English, the construction man holding up a SLOW sign, the clerk at the grocery store. 

We don’t know their stories, but they all have one. It may not be as extreme as the blind men, but it could be worse.

Jesus had compassion on these people, on the overlooked people of the world. So should we, and it doesn’t take much to notice them.

We really just have to open our eyes. A smile and a word of encouragement will go a long way.

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Servant Leadership Isn’t a New Phrase

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:24-28

Even with a perfect man amongst them, the disciples got angry and frustrated at James and John.

But Jesus’ point was that hierarchy in the kingdom of heaven is meaningless, except for the Trinity.

The Second Person of that Trinity was standing in front of them right now, and even He became their servant, taking on human flesh.

In other words, the kingdom is about service, even as leaders – especially as leaders.

A children’s song from days gone by sums it up:

If you want to be great in God’s kingdom,
Learn to be the servant of all.

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Be Careful What You Ask For

20 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.”

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.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” Matthew 20:20-23

James and John’s mom approached Jesus for a “favor.” Now, did she come on her own accord or because they asked her to? She probably came on her own but it doesn’t mean that James and John hadn’t already thought about it.

As they’re walking along, I could hear them plotting about their “rightful” place in the kingdom.

The mother wanted the best for her boys but none of them knew what that would cost both boys. As one of the original twelve disciples, the pressures and demands on them would be great. They would be carrying out the greatest responsibility of the Church after Jesus ascended into heaven. If those 12 disciples failed, the Church would not exist. Granted, the Holy Spirit would be with them all, but it still didn’t mean guaranteed success. They would still have to put in the work and effort to make it happen, and with the Spirit’s leading and supernatural work, the Church would be planted.

From the twelve, only John was said to have died a natural death. Still, John would have to endure much persecution at the hands of vile leaders and great opposition.

The other brother, James, was clubbed or stoned to death.

Did their mother really want to hear what her sons would have to endure in this life? Probably not. Would she still request it if she knew?

This clearly falls into the category of “be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.”

Often when we pray, we ask for answers and for the path that God should use to answer it. Unfortunately, we already know that if and when God answers our prayer, He’ll do so in the manner and method that is best for us, not which is easiest for us.

That’s why we pray, “thy will be done.”

We really don’t know the obstacles God will have to move or the complex situations He’ll have to work in to answer that prayer.

Fortunately, though, we do know He is willing and able to answer our prayers according to His timing and methods.

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A Difficult Teaching to Absorb

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:17-19

This is the third time Jesus predicted His death. The Twelve were probably starting to get the picture. He was going away and it would be a painful death.

They knew He would die, but did they fully understand the resurrection?

It’s a difficult concept because it had never been done before, except perhaps for Lazarus.

But this was bigger because the man who raised Lazarus from the dead would be the one dying and rising to life. He was the One they were following. He was who they had left everything for.

They had to take a while to process it even though events and teachings in their mind was coming together. Sure they consulted Jesus while they walked, but they were probably talking among themselves about His teachings. We know that was true because of the verses that follow when they got family involved.

Jesus’ teachings about death and the resurrection was heady stuff. It clearly was not “after the fact” events but in real time, which is significantly different than how we view the teaching. Of course they were slow to understand it. They had no context or frame of reference. The long awaited Messiah was among them and He was teaching like none of their leaders had taught before.

The man who actually wrote the words the religious leaders used was teaching them.

It must have been overwhelming and fascinating at the same time.

Today, as you thing on these things, rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Rejoice that you have a new life in Christ.
Rejoice that you are no longer a slave to sin.
Rejoice that one day we will be with Jesus in heaven.

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And Then What?

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine in the morning 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 noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon 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 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, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one 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.” Matthew 20:1-16

Some have taken verse 16 to mean that they’ll live their life the way they want and will repent of it all on their deathbed. I suppose technically that’s possible, but no one really knows when their death bed will be. They could be in a car accident and there would be no death bed.

The people who say that, though, are missing the point.

The point of eternal salvation isn’t for “fire insurance,” i.e., rescuing someone from the flames of hell.

No, salvation from Jesus is much more significant than that.

It means we are no longer slaves to sin.
It means we can sleep with a good conscience at night.
It means that we get to have a godly life in Christ here on earth.
It means that we get to tell others about this wonderful life.

If you’re waiting to be on your death bed before you repent, it may be too late.

And then what?

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