Matthew 20

Laborers in the Vineyard

1 "For 1the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his 2vineyard.
2 "When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place;
4 and to those he said, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever * is right I will give you.' And so they went.
5 "Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing.
6 "And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day long?'
7 "They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.'
8 "When 3evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his 4foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.'
9 "When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius.
10 "When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius.
11 "When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner,
12 saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the 5scorching heat of the day.'
13 "But he answered and said to one of them, '6Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?
14 'Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.
15 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your 7eye envious because I am generous?'
16 "So 8the last shall be first, and the first last."

Death, Resurrection Foretold

17 9As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them,
18 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man 10will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death,
19 and 11will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on 12the third day He will be raised up."

Preferment Asked

20 13Then the mother of 14the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, 15bowing down and making a request of Him.
21 And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine 16may sit one on Your right and one on Your left."
22 But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able 17to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able."
23 He said to them, "18My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, 19but it is for those for whom it has been 20prepared by My Father."
24 And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers.
25 21But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26 "It is not this way among you, 22but whoever * wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
27 and whoever * wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
28 just as 23the Son of Man 24did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Sight for the Blind

29 25As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him.
30 And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, 26have mercy on us, 27Son of David!"
31 The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, 28Son of David, have mercy on us!"
32 And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
33 They said to Him, "Lord, we want our eyes to be opened."
34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.

Images for Matthew 20

Matthew 20 Commentary

Chapter 20

The parable of the labourers in the vineyard. (1-16) Jesus again foretells his sufferings. (17-19) The ambition of James and John. (20-28) Jesus gives sight to two blind men near Jericho. (29-34)

Verses 1-16 The direct object of this parable seems to be, to show that though the Jews were first called into the vineyard, at length the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and they should be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with the Jews. The parable may also be applied more generally, and shows, 1. That God is debtor to no man. 2. That many who begin last, and promise little in religion, sometimes, by the blessing of God, arrive at a great deal of knowledge, grace, and usefulness. 3. That the recompense of reward will be given to the saints, but not according to the time of their conversion. It describes the state of the visible church, and explains the declaration that the last shall be first, and the first last, in its various references. Till we are hired into the service of God, we are standing all the day idle: a sinful state, though a state of drudgery to Satan, may be called a state of idleness. The market-place is the world, and from that we are called by the gospel. Come, come from this market-place. Work for God will not admit of trifling. A man may go idle to hell, but he that will go to heaven, must be diligent. The Roman penny was sevenpence halfpenny in our money, wages then enough for the day's support. This does not prove that the reward of our obedience to God is of works, or of debt; when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; but it signifies that there is a reward set before us, yet let none, upon this presumption, put off repentance till they are old. Some were sent into the vineyard at the eleventh hour; but nobody had hired them before. The Gentiles came in at the eleventh hour; the gospel had not been before preached to them. Those that have had gospel offers made them at the third or sixth hour, and have refused them, will not have to say at the eleventh hour, as these had, No man has hired us. Therefore, not to discourage any, but to awaken all, be it remembered, that now is the accepted time. The riches of Divine grace are loudly murmured at, among proud Pharisees and nominal Christians. There is great proneness in us to think that we have too little, and others too much of the tokens of God's favour; and that we do too much, and others too little in the work of God. But if God gives grace to others, it is kindness to them, and no injustice to us. Carnal worldlings agree with God for their penny in this world; and choose their portion in this life. Obedient believers agree with God for their penny in the other world, and must remember they have so agreed. Didst not thou agree to take up with heaven as thy portion, thy all; wilt thou seek for happiness in the creature? God punishes none more than they deserve, and recompenses every service done for him; he therefore does no wrong to any, by showing extraordinary grace to some. See here the nature of envy. It is an evil eye, which is displeased at the good of others, and desires their hurt. It is a grief to ourselves, displeasing to God, and hurtful to our neighbours: it is a sin that has neither pleasure, profit, nor honour. Let us forego every proud claim, and seek for salvation as a free gift. Let us never envy or grudge, but rejoice and praise God for his mercy to others as well as to ourselves.

Verses 17-19 Christ is more particular here in foretelling his sufferings than before. And here, as before, he adds the mention of his resurrection and his glory, to that of his death and sufferings, to encourage his disciples, and comfort them. A believing view of our once crucified and now glorified Redeemer, is good to humble a proud, self-justifying disposition. When we consider the need of the humiliation and sufferings of the Son of God, in order to the salvation of perishing sinners, surely we must be aware of the freeness and richness of Divine grace in our salvation.

Verses 20-28 The sons of Zebedee abused what Christ said to comfort the disciples. Some cannot have comforts but they turn them to a wrong purpose. Pride is a sin that most easily besets us; it is sinful ambition to outdo others in pomp and grandeur. To put down the vanity and ambition of their request, Christ leads them to the thoughts of their sufferings. It is a bitter cup that is to be drunk of; a cup of trembling, but not the cup of the wicked. It is but a cup, it is but a draught, bitter perhaps, but soon emptied; it is a cup in the hand of a Father, Joh. 18:11 . Baptism is an ordinance by which we are joined to the Lord in covenant and communion; and so is suffering for Christ, ( Ezekiel 20:37 , Isaiah 48:10 ) . Baptism is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace; and so is suffering for Christ, for unto us it is given, ( Philippians 1:29 ) . But they knew not what Christ's cup was, nor what his baptism. Those are commonly most confident, who are least acquainted with the cross. Nothing makes more mischief among brethren, than desire of greatness. And we never find Christ's disciples quarrelling, but something of this was at the bottom of it. That man who labours most diligently, and suffers most patiently, seeking to do good to his brethren, and to promote the salvation of souls, most resembles Christ, and will be most honoured by him to all eternity. Our Lord speaks of his death in the terms applied to the sacrifices of old. It is a sacrifice for the sins of men, and is that true and substantial sacrifice, which those of the law faintly and imperfectly represented. It was a ransom for many, enough for all, working upon many; and, if for many, then the poor trembling soul may say, Why not for me?

Verses 29-34 It is good for those under the same trial, or infirmity of body or mind, to join in prayer to God for relief, that they may quicken and encourage one another. There is mercy enough in Christ for all that ask. They were earnest in prayer. They cried out as men in earnest. Cold desires beg denials. They were humble in prayer, casting themselves upon, and referring themselves cheerfully to, the Mediator's mercy. They showed faith in prayer, by the title they gave to Christ. Surely it was by the Holy Ghost that they called Jesus, Lord. They persevered in prayer. When they were in pursuit of such mercy, it was no time for timidity or hesitation: they cried earnestly. Christ encouraged them. The wants and burdens of the body we are soon sensible of, and can readily relate. Oh that we did as feelingly complain of our spiritual maladies, especially our spiritual blindness! Many are spiritually blind, yet say they see. Jesus cured these blind men; and when they had received sight, they followed him. None follow Christ blindly. He first by his grace opens men's eyes, and so draws their hearts after him. These miracles are our call to Jesus; may we hear it, and make it our daily prayer to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Cross References 28

  • 1. Matthew 13:24
  • 2. Matthew 21:28, 33
  • 3. Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15
  • 4. Luke 8:3
  • 5. Jonah 4:8; Luke 12:55; James 1:11
  • 6. Matthew 22:12; Matthew 26:50
  • 7. Deuteronomy 15:9; Matthew 6:23; Mark 7:22
  • 8. Matthew 19:30; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30
  • 9. Matthew 20:17-19: {Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33}
  • 10. Matthew 16:21
  • 11. Matthew 27:2; Acts 2:23; Acts 3:13; Acts 4:27; Acts 21:11
  • 12. Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:23; Luke 18:32
  • 13. Matthew 20:20-28: {Mark 10:35-45}
  • 14. Matthew 4:21; Matthew 10:2
  • 15. Matthew 8:2
  • 16. Matthew 19:28
  • 17. Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 49:12; Matthew 26:39, 42; Luke 22:42; John 18:11
  • 18. Acts 12:2; Revelation 1:9
  • 19. Matthew 13:11
  • 20. Matthew 25:34
  • 21. Matthew 20:25-28; Luke 22:25-27
  • 22. Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:35; Mark 10:43; Luke 22:26
  • 23. Matthew 8:20
  • 24. Matthew 26:28; John 13:13f; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 1:5
  • 25. Matthew 20:29-34: {Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43;} Matthew 9:27-31
  • 26. Matthew 9:27
  • 27. Matthew 20:31
  • 28. Matthew 9:27

Footnotes 14

Matthew 20 Commentaries