Matt 20:23 Rewards of Discipleship 9/30/2018 ßà
#1. Going Up to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32, Matt 20:17-19, 16:21, 17:22-23, 26:2, Rom 13:1, Gal 3:13)
#2. James and John’s Request (Matt 20:20-22, Ps 27:4, Mark 15:41, Rev 21:6-7, 3:21, 1Sam 2:8)
#3. Great Ones and Servants (Matt 20:24-28, John 15:12, Acts 2:42)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 19:12 (2X). Last week we began in Matthew chapter 20. So far we have not looked into any of the previous chapters in detail, except Matt 13. But as we approach the end of this Matthew series, and we approach the crucifixion, and the death, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should slow down and consider the contents of these chapters, more carefully. God Himself spends a great deal more words and time on these events in the last few days of the Lord Jesus in His ministry, and we should also. And so, today we will have a second sermon on Matt 20. But before we do that, we should look again at Matt 19 and 20 and see the structure in these two chapters. These chapter numbers were not arbitrarily chosen as some dividers in a stack of stories and parables. There is a definite methodology in how these two chapters were arranged. It is:
I have already indicated in previous sermons how there is a theme that we can assign to each of the chapters in Matthew. The theme of chapter 19 is, “The Cost of Discipleship” (2X). Let us see how this applies to each of the subject matters in this chapter. The cost of discipleship for the married man and woman is that there is not to be divorce, except for fornication. And in the rare case that divorce occurs, both the man and his wife should remain single or be reconciled. The Lord Jesus stated the cost of discipleship for the man and his wife in Matt 19:12, “There are eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake”. Then the Lord stated in Matt 19:14, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me”. The cost of discipleship is that we must make a concerted effort to reach little children with the Gospel. For the rich young ruler the cost if discipleship was obviously too much, for we read in Matt 19:22, “he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions”. Then the disciples were amazed, and they were saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus answered them and said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible”. For them the cost of discipleship was that they needed to trust God like little children, and believe that God can save the most hardened soul, like that of Saul of Tarsus. Then I mentioned that in Matt 19 verses 27-30 actually belong to chapter 20, because the theme for chapter 20 is, “The Rewards of Discipleship” (2X). Let us see how this works out. In Matt 19:29 the Lord stated the rewards of discipleship for every one of His disciples, none excepted, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold in this life, and shall inherit everlasting life in the life hereafter”. The Lord Jesus followed this up in Matt 20:1-16 with the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, who all received the same reward for their work. This is to indicate that we all receive an equal and full wage from the Lord for works done in this life, and we all receive an equal and full inheritance from the Lord in the life hereafter. Then the Lord indicated what His reward will be. We read in Matt 20:18-19, “The Son of man shall be betrayed, and be crucified, and the third day He shall rise again”. His reward is that He may give His life a ransom for many, and do this for His own glory. The reward of James and John was that they may partake in the glorification of the Lord Jesus by being baptized with the baptism that He endured. And the reward of any of the followers of Jesus is that we may partake in the glorification of the Lord Jesus by being servants to our brethren in the Lord. If this is not an attractive reward to some of you, then you should reconsider what salvation is all about. When we read about the healing of the two blind beggars we wonder how this would fit into the rewards of discipleship. Were these two blind beggars already worshipping the Lord Jesus? And that is absolutely true. We read in Matt 20:30 how they addressed Him, “Lord, Son of David”. They had long before come to believe that Jesus was Lord over them, and that He was the Son of David, which was the title for the Messiah, the Savior of mankind. Spiritually they had received their sight long before they met Jesus. And when they received their sight they followed Him. This was their reward. Let us now consider:
#1. Going Up to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32, Matt 20:17-19, 16:21, 17:22-23, 26:2, Rom 13:1, Gal 3:13)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Mark, Mark 10:32 (2X). This was the last travel of the Lord Jesus toward Jerusalem. Up to now Christ has kept His fame as small as possible. But now deliberately He set His face toward Jerusalem. Physically, Jerusalem is at a high elevation, and so as they were on the way to Jerusalem they were looking up. Spiritually, we are on our way to the New Jerusalem when we are walking in the way of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are looking up. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is going up first. Spiritually, our way to the New Jerusalem is “Following Christ”. He is our head, He is our leader, He leads the way. And then we read in Mark 10:32,
Mr 10:32 ¶
Why were the disciples amazed, and why were they afraid at the same time? They heard Him say, for the third time, that He was going to be condemned by the priests and Pharisees, and they were amazed at His determination to go to Jerusalem to confront the religious rulers of the Jews. Spiritually, we are amazed of the wonderful salvation that God has provided through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Please turn a few pages to your left, to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 20:17 (2X). The disciples were afraid, for they expected that they too would be killed. And spiritually we too are afraid what our new life in Christ would bring us, for we too can expect hatred and persecution from those who hate Christ. But in spite of our fear and apprehension we continue forward, for our love for the Lord is greater than our fear of the world. And then we read in Matt 20:17-19,
Why does Jesus use the name “Son of man” in verse 18? With the words “Son of man” Jesus Christ identifies Himself with the sinners whom He came to save. It is man that has sinned, so it is man who has to pay for these sins. The Savior who qualifies as their substitute must be fully man. God declared that “the wages of sin is death”. But the death that God has in view is the death He promised to Adam, where He said, “Dying thou shalt die”. In other words, “Forever dying you shall die, and this process of dying shall begin on the day when you eat from the fruit of this tree, and the dying process shall continue into eternity in Hell”. And thus, the only way to go up to the New Jerusalem is to follow the Son of man, who must die for our sins. He who desired to be our substitute must humble Himself and be delivered into the hands of sinful men. And why did the Lord Jesus say in verse 19 that He shall be delivered to the Gentiles? It was for two reasons. #1, God says in Rom 13:1 that He works His system of justice in this world through the existing secular authorities, even though these men are unsaved individuals. God raises up kings and puts down kings. God decides who should be king in the land. And while we are presently experiencing the election of candidates for president, we can rest assured that only God is in charge of who will be chosen. #2, God declared in Deut 21:23 and in Gal 3:13, “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree”. God waited until the Roman Empire ruled over the land of Palestine, so that the Roman method of execution would be in effect when Christ would be condemned to death by the people of Israel. For since Christ had to bear the curse of paying for our sins, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, it had to be shown externally that He suffered under the curse of God. Now we know that this was the third time that the Lord Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. The previous two times were in Matt 16:21 and Matt 17:22-23. And He will say it the fourth time in Matt 26:2. And in all of this we should not think that the Lord Jesus was a victim of the priests and Pharisees, for the Bible says that:
Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 4:24 (2X). After the Lord Jesus went to heaven the disciples preached the Gospel to the Jews. Then the priests, and the Sadducees, and the Pharisees put them in the midst of the Sanhedrin, and threatened them that they must speak no longer in the name of Jesus. But when the disciples returned to their own company they reported all of this, and then they lifted up their voices to God and reported to God all that they had heard. We read in Acts 4:24,
Ac 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
Did you see that in verse 28? They said, “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done”. The counsel of God determined that this was to be done, and God’s hand upon mankind caused it to come to pass what was to be done, and mankind did, or carried out, “whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done”. God allowed these words to remain in the Bible. We see here the awesome sovereignty of God in action. In the counsel of God, or in the plan of God from before the foundation of the world, God determined that Christ must be crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33. Then the providence of God, or the hand of God, caused history to unfold and provided everything to fall in place for the stage where Christ was to be crucified. But God was not the originator of the sins of the Sanhedrin to condemn the Lord Jesus to death. Instead, God worked through the sins of the people, which were instigated by the Devil, to accomplish His goals, for God cannot be the author of sin. And after Christ died He rose from the grave victoriously; because all the details of Christ’s atoning work were foreordained by God, it was not possible that He should fail. And notice in verse 27 that Herod, and Pontius Pilate, and the Gentiles, and the people of Israel are all grouped together as those who are in opposition to the Lord Jesus. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 2:1 (2X). You see, after the cross there is no more distinction between Jews and Gentiles. All are sinners under the wrath of God. The whole world is guilty of the crucifixion of Christ, for the representatives of the whole world were present to condemn Him to death, including the saints, for we all came into the world as enemies of God. Beginning at verse 25 we see a quotation from
Ps 2:1-6 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
Ps 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
God dictated this beautiful Messianic Psalm to king David as a testimony of God’s sovereign power. And from Acts 4:24-28 we know that this Psalm applies to the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to His glorification as the Lord of heaven and earth. Then God concludes this Psalm with the admonition, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry”. Today there are many people who call themselves Christians, but they are bearing the name of the Lord in vain, for they do not believe that Jesus Christ is also God, and they do not believe that God is sovereign in all that He does, including salvation. The sovereignty of God is written all throughout the Bible. But proud men, in their own thought processes and in their own imaginations have designed for themselves a god who is like them; a god who is not sovereign in salvation, for this is a god who will conform to their own wisdom, the wisdom of men. Their god requires that, in order to be saved, man must reach out to his god and ask for salvation. And then this god will apply the blood of Jesus Christ to be applied to their souls to wash away their sins. This god is an impotent god, for he cannot do anything unless mortal man will do his part toward salvation. Now all of this is refuted everywhere in the Bible. But the serpent has approached them and has whispered in their ears, “Has God really said that He is sovereign?” You see, the strategy of the serpent is still the same as it was in the Garden of Eden. He is pitting the puny wisdom of man against the wisdom of the infinitely wise God. Only when they are cast into the Lake of Fire will they see that their own rotten pride was opposing Almighty God. Let us now return to the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 20:20 (2X) and consider:
#2. James and John’s Request (Matt 20:20-22, Ps 27:4, Mark 15:41, Rev 21:6-7, 3:21, 1Sam 2:8)
The Lord Jesus had just mentioned for the third time that He was going to die and be raised from the dead. James and John did not fully understand this, but what they understood was that the Lord Jesus was soon going to end His present ministry, and then He was going to set up His glorious kingdom. And they asked if they could occupy a special place of glory in that kingdom. We read in Matt 20:20-22,
Confident as mindless worms who decided to cross the road on a rainy day they said, “We are able”. Let us first see the historical background for this event. Peter, James and John occupied a special place. They were the three who belonged to the inner circle of disciples of Jesus. In Matt 19:27 Peter asked for a special reward. Here in Matt 20:21 James and John are asking for a special reward. At first sight James and John are desiring a noble destiny. We all desire to come to a place of glory with Christ. And do we not read in Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart”, and if the Lord has put these desires into our heart, shall He not also give us the fulfillment of these desires? But James and John wanted the highest place of honor at the exclusion of the other disciples. This was a very selfish request, and this was not at all the desire of God. Rather, the request of James and John should have been in line with Psalm 27:4, where we read, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple”. This should have been the request of James and John. Since we have the whole Bible we realize that James and John did not know what they were asking. When the Lord Jesus spoke of the cup, He spoke of the cup of the wrath of God, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. And when He spoke of the baptism that He was going to be baptized with, do we read of any water baptism that the Lord was subjected to before He went to the cross? Absolutely not! Here we see clearly that the term “baptism” refers to “washing”, particularly the washing of sins that He had to be subjected to before He died. The Lord Jesus had our sins imputed to His account, and now He had to pay for those sins on our behalf. He, the sinless Lamb of God was being treated as if He was bearing our sins, and we, the ones who really committed those sins, are being treated as if we have no sins, because the Lord Jesus paid the full price for all our sins, even the small sins like an idle word. James and John would have been consumed in the process if they would have attempted to endure the suffering that the Lord Jesus endured. But why did they get their mother involved? It seems that James and John were quite proud of the fact that their father was a wealthy man, for he had hired servants to help him is his fishing business. Moreover, we read that their mother, whose name was Salome, accompanied the Lord Jesus wherever He went, and supported Him with her substance (Mark 15:41). It seems that they were expecting something special for their fervent work for the Lord. But indeed they did not know what they were asking, for the true inheritance that they should be looking forward to is far greater than they could have imagined or asked for. Please turn to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 21:6 (2X). Last week I hinted at the enormous inheritance that is already prepared, but that is presently still empty. But that inheritance is the entire NH&NE for each one of the saints. I derived that from the singular personal pronoun that God uses in Rev 21:6-7, where we read:
Re 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Re 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
God did not say “They that overcome”, but He said “He that overcometh”. In other words, each individual saint will inherit the entire NH&NE with everything in it. Please turn to chapter 3 of this prophecy of Revelation, Rev 3:21 (2X). And so we see that God is literally giving away all that He has to each one of the saints, so that each one of the saints will have the power to rule over all that God has. Come to think of it, we have already seen this a few times. The Lord says in Rev 3:21,
Re 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Again we see the singular personal pronoun, and the promise that each one of the saints shall have the privilege to sit with the Lord Jesus Christ in His throne. In other words, we shall reign with Christ over the entire NH&NE and over the gigantic dwelling place in it that is called the New Jerusalem and we shall reign with Him forever. Come to think of it, we have already seen this several times in 1Sam 2:8. Please turn to the Prophecy of 1Samuel, 1Sam 2:8 (2X). You have heard me bring up this verse several times, but it is such a stupendous promise, and it is such a glorious verse, and it brings out the true Gospel in such glorious terms, that I cannot let this verse slip into your memory. God says in 1Sam 2:8,
1Sa 2:8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S,
and he hath set the world upon them.
We were those beggars on the dunghill, for we had nothing to offer to God, for even our best works were filthy with sin. This world was the dunghill from which God has rescued us, for this dunghill shall be destroyed; it is not worth saving. And those who are comfortable on this dunghill show by their actions that they are not looking forward to a glorious life with God. But when Christ saved us He made us sons of God, and He made each one of His saints inherit the throne, singular, His throne of glory. Please turn again to the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 20:23 (2X). And so we see that although the request by James and John was very selfish, their request cannot even stand in the shadow of what we really shall inherit in the life hereafter. This is our inheritance just because Christ loved us. We have also seen what the Lord Jesus meant when He spoke of His coming baptism, His washing at the cross. But let me now continue with the remark the Lord spoke to James and John in verse 23.
Mt 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
Did the Lord hereby indicate that James and John would be persecuted and would suffer in death as much as the Lord Jesus did? The answer is absolutely not! The apostle James was beheaded. There is relatively little suffering in that kind of a death. And we do not read anywhere that the apostle John had to suffer a gruesome death. No! The meaning of verse 23 is altogether in the spiritual plane. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 6:3 (2X). God teaches us in Eph 1:4 that He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. If we then were in Christ, then we were also in Christ when He was crucified. And that is exactly the reason why the Lord Jesus said to James and John that they shall indeed drink of His cup of the wrath of God. For if we were in Christ when He was crucified, and when He died, and when He was buried, and when He rose again from the grave, then we also were in Christ when He endured the penalty for our sins, which is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. But since Christ is also God Himself, He could complete this payment in less than 24 hours, so that spiritually speaking when He came out the other end of Hell we came out of Hell with Him, for we were in Him. Therefore, since we have already gone through Hell and have come out the other end, God will never require that we must go to Hell again. The Bible speaks of this stupendous fact of our salvation process in several places, but the clearest explanation is presented here in Rom 6:3-11, where we read,
Ro 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Ro 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might
be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Ro 6:8-9 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Ro 6:10-11 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Verse 3 says, we were baptized into His death. This does not refer to water baptism, but like in Matt 20:22-23 it refers to the washing of sins that the Lord Jesus had to go through when He was crucified. The ceremony of water baptism has no spiritual value, for it cannot wash away even one sin. Therefore water baptism is only an outward sign, or a symbol, of what hopefully has occurred in the soul. And thus, verses 4 and 5 speak of our state of having been born from above. If we indeed have been crucified with Christ, and we indeed have been planted together with Christ in the likeness of His death, then we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. And therefore verse 7 concludes with the words, “For he that is dead is freed from sin”. Our sins have been covered by the blood of Christ, or we can say that our sins have been completely atoned for by Christ. We must believe that they have been fully paid. This is why God says in verse 14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace”. If we indeed have died with Christ, then we have been raised with Christ and we have become dead to the Law, which means that we are no longer under the Law, but under grace. However, if we have not died with Christ, then sin still has dominion over us, and we are still under the Law. Please turn to the Epistle to the Eph, Eph 2:4 (2X). Therefore, if we have been raised with Christ from the dead, we also have ascended with Christ into heaven, and are seated with Him in the heavenlies. This is our reward for discipleship. God speaks about that in Eph 2:4-6,
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
This is our reward for discipleship. It is God’s plan that we are seated with Christ and in Christ in the heavenlies, and this is our present status. That is why God says in Rom 8:30, “Whom He justified, them He also glorified”, past tense. We are seated with Christ now! When we think of Christ’s kingdom we should not think of it in earthly terms, but we should think of it as a kingdom that is far more glorious, even though we do not fully understand it. From the moment we are saved, the moment we are born from above, we are reigning with Christ. But in order for us to get to that point, however, it is necessary that we drink the cup of God’s wrath, the cup that the Lord Jesus had to drink. James and John were asking the right question for the wrong reason. But God used their sin and through their sin the Lord Jesus declared to us a far more glorious future than we ever could have imagined. To be baptized with the Lord Jesus in His death is the beginning of our reward for discipleship. But there is another aspect of our discipleship. We can read that in the following verses in the Gospel of Matthew:
#3. Great Ones and Servants (Matt 20:24-28, John 15:12, Acts 2:42)
Please turn to the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 20:24 (2X). God’s kingdom is entirely different from a worldly kingdom. The nature of the kingdom of God is that we must serve others. We rule by serving others. This was the way that Christ came, and this is the way that He taught us. We read in Matt 20:24,
Mt 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
The world is thinking, “What is in it for me?” But as a servant of Jesus Christ we must come to a different frame of mind: How can I serve others, because this life is not ours any more. My life belongs to Christ, in service to my fellow men. For example, people come to this worship service to learn as much as they can out of the sermon. That is commendable, but then they go home. It means that they are not coming for the sake of others; they are coming for themselves, for their own knowledge building, or for their own pleasure, or to teach their children how to be lukewarm, and so on. They are not coming to serve others with their presence, and they are not serving others by loving them, for they cannot love the brethren when they are absent. And so, we need to find ways to spend time with one another, for this is what the Lord Jesus commanded us when He said in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you”. Are we putting this commandment into practice? Or do we intend to ignore it, because we are already doing enough? Look at our children, and ask ourselves if our attitudes, and our activities on Sunday, or our habits and priorities are imitated by our children? Are we training our children to be lukewarm? And let me now address the children: Children, are your parents teaching you to be lukewarm? If you are on fire for the Lord, then you need to take some initiatives to get you out of this rut. Is there any value in the words of the Lord Jesus when He said, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many”? You see, the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ will grow and prosper when the saints have a desire to serve one another, for that is the nature of the kingdom of Christ. Take the early church in the first century AD as our example. We read in Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”, and this did not mean that they were doing it once a month, or once in a great while when we feel like it, but they continued stedfastly, which means that they were seeing each other every day of the week. This was their example to us. And the heathen who saw it said, “Behold, how they love one another”. When we begin to see our service to others as a privilege, rather than as a burden, then we will have caught the spirit of Christ’s admonition how we can love one another. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.