"God's kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.
They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
"Later, about nine o'clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed.
He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage.
At five o'clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, 'Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?
' "They said, 'Because no one hired us.' "He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
"When the day's work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, 'Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.'
"Those hired at five o'clock came up and were each given a dollar.
When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar.
Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager,
'These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.'
"He replied to the one speaking for the rest, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn't we?
So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you.
Can't I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?'
"Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first."
Jesus, now well on the way up to Jerusalem, took the Twelve off to the side of the road and said,
"Listen to me carefully. We are on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death.
They will then hand him over to the Romans for mockery and torture and crucifixion. On the third day he will be raised up alive."
It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
"What do you want?" Jesus asked. She said, "Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand."
Jesus responded, "You have no idea what you're asking." And he said to James and John, "Are you capable of drinking the cup that I'm about to drink?" They said, "Sure, why not?"
Jesus said, "Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that's not my business. My Father is taking care of that."
When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers.
So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, "You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads.
It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.
Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.
That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served - and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage."
As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed.
Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, "Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!"
The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, "Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!"
Jesus stopped and called over, "What do you want from me?"
They said, "Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!"
Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)