The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16): This parable of the laborers in the vineyard is about the 9th (and 10th) commandment. In a very real sense this parable is about coveting. While “covet” may not seem the most obvious word to describe what is going on here, it does fit both the emphasis of Jesus’ teaching and the overarching emphasis in Matthew on the Law and Jesus’ representation of it in a way that transforms our thinking and doing. Coveting lies at the heart of this parable in a couple of ways. We covet what God chooses to give to others.
A parable is essentially an elaborate allegory. We are invited to see ourselves in the story, and then apply it to ourselves. The wages at stake (even at the moment of Jesus’ first telling of the parable) are not actual daily wages for vineyard-laborers, but forgiveness, life, and salvation for believers. We need not literally be laborers in a vineyard, as we are all of us co-workers in the kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:9). We have a tendency, as the parable aptly illustrates, to covet and to be resentful of what others receive from God. The owner of the vineyard asks those who have worked longest and (presumably) hardest for him, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” The point is that God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness are God’s to give away as God sees fit.
Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time: “Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “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 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!” (vv. 17-19). The bold portion is an additional statement in this third prediction of the passion. Jesus would not be killed by the Jews, which would have been stoning, but would be crucified by the Romans. All three predictions include his resurrection on the third day (16:21; 17:23).
A Mother’s Request: “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “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.” “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.
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” (vv.20-23). The Gospel of Mark has “James and John, sons of Zebedee,” asking the question (Mark 10:35-37), yet there is no contradiction. The three joined in making the petition.
“Drink the cup” – This a figure of speech meaning to “undergo” or experience.” Here the reference is to suffering. The same figure of speech is used in Jeremiah 25:15; Ezekiel 23:32; Habakkuk 2:16; Revelation 14:10; 16:19; 18:6 for divine wrath or judgement.
“Ransom for many.” – “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 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” (v. 28). Ransom is the Greek word used most commonly for the price paid to redeem a slave. Similarly, Christ paid the ransom price of his own life to free us from slavery to sin.
Two Blind Men Receive Sight: “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 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!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (vv. 28-34). Mark and Luke mention only one blind man. “Son of David” – Is a Messianic title.