- Sermon Notes
How to be like Jesus
Matthew 19:27- 20:28
When we left Jesus last week, He had just made an amazing offer to a rich young ruler to become one of His disciples, but He asked the young man to sell his possessions and give to the poor because He knew there was something in his life standing in the way of the fullness of life that God wanted for him.
But the young man turned and walked away, grieved of heart because he owned much property, or maybe we should say his property owned him. Jesus then went on to explain to His disciples that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. He was saying that it is only in recognizing our spiritual poverty, that we are spiritually bankrupt, that we cannot save ourselves; that we can enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Peter then responded and said, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You, what then will there be for us?" Jesus then answered that they will sit upon 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel and that everyone who has left this world behind will receive many times as much and shall inherit eternal life. He then gave the following parable that we are going to study today.
More than anything this teaches us about the heart of God and His heart toward those who enter into the kingdom of heaven. But it's also an opportunity for us to look at our own heart and to understand the way God wants us to live, the heart He wants us to have, the character that He desires to pour into us, and the transformation that comes from being like Jesus.
Immediately after this parable, Jesus has another conversation with His disciples where He shows us the reason we all need to be changed, transformed to be like Him.
I. Be Generous with Your Love
- In chapter 20, Jesus continues explaining to His disciples about eternal life and the blessings and rewards in the kingdom of heaven.
- The parable is about a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
- It was common practice in those days for those who needed work to gather at some designated place and wait for landowners to give them work. That is still true in some places today.
- The landowner would have hired the first men at about 6 AM with the agreed wage of a denarius for a day’s work. He went out again at the third, sixth, ninth and even eleventh hour to send laborers into his vineyard.
- At the end of the day, which would have been at 6 PM, the workers were all paid the same wage, beginning with the last workers and ending with the first. But those who were hired first grumbled, expecting more.
- The landowner then answered, "Is your eye envious because I am generous?"
A. Immaturity always favors itself
- The difference between the generosity and grace of the landowner and the attitude of the first workers shouts out at us.
- The parable clearly teaches us about the generous love and grace of God toward everyone who receives His offer of eternal life, and that becomes a great example for us to follow.
- But notice the selfishness of the first workers. They expected more than they had agreed to because they were first and worked more hours than the others.
Illus – Many people have a sense of “fairness” and if they think something isn’t fair, they react strongly!
Like when a friend and I took an ornithology class at OSU because we heard there wouldn’t be any homework…
- But it reveals the immaturity in the heart of man; and immaturity always favors itself.
3 John 9-10, “I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”
Illus – Sports is a perfect illustration of this very point. Most people always want the refs to call everything in their favor, regardless of what actually happened.
Unfortunately, this is something kids learn at a very young age, especially when their parents come to their games, if you get my point.
B. Everyone gets what they don't deserve
- Remember that parables are given to teach one main point and we should not try to milk every possible theological nuance we can from them.
- For example, eternal life is not a wage paid to those who earned it. If God did pay us what we truly deserved, we certainly wouldn't want it.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result works, so that no one may boast.
- Some people receive Christ early in their lives and serve Him many, many years. Others come to faith at midlife, some when they are old, and still others come to Christ on their death beds.
Illus - My father was a difficult, angry person most of his life, but accepted the Lord and was baptized when he was 75 years old. Still others have literally come to faith in Christ the last moments of their lives. This parable would be especially meaningful to them.
- Even if a person comes to faith at the last moments of their life, they receive the amazing blessing of eternal life with our Lord.
Luke 23:39-43 The thief on the cross…
C. God blesses faithfulness
- Something else we understand from this parable is that God blesses faithfulness. Of course it speaks about inheriting eternal life, but Jesus also mentions the rewards of faithfulness.
- Here again, it's the generosity of God's love that becomes the theme for all of us.
- The things in our life that have no eternal value will be burned up, but those things which are eternal will remain.
1 Corinthians 3:8-15 The quality of each man's work…
Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
II. Desire to be a Servant of All
- From verse 17 to 19, Jesus explains to the disciples what would happen to him when they went up to Jerusalem.
- And here, He even tells them that He will be crucified, but He repeats now for the third time that He will be raised up on the third day.
- Then at some point shortly after that, the mother of James and John, known as the "Sons of Thunder" came to Jesus with a request.
- It seems a little strange to be known as the "Sons of Thunder" and then have your mother do the asking.
- But since Jesus mentioned that the disciples would be sitting on 12 thrones, she wanted her boys to be seated in the places of highest honor, power and authority.
- But this became an opportunity to give them and us insight into how to become great in the kingdom of heaven.
- It's also an opportunity to become like Jesus, because it is this very thing that shows us His heart. And becoming like Him is the very thing we need most in our lives.
A. This is a more excellent way to live
- When the other ten heard what James and John had asked, they became indignant.
- Jesus called them all to Himself and corrected their hearts; we should receive the same words.
- The mother’s request, and therefore James and John's, was selfish. They were trying to exalt themselves over their brothers. There is the problem, in the world you have to knock someone down to be great.
Illus – When I was growing up we used the have a game called "King of the Hill." Whoever held the stick (leg of an old broken chair) was the king and could tell everyone what to do, but if you could knock him off and get the stick, you could be king.
- Jesus pointed them toward the world and said, "You know that the rulers of this world lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority."
- In other words, in the world, everyone wants to be greater than others. Unfortunately, you can even do ministry with wrong motives.
- That was true even early in the history of the church…
Philippians 1:15-17, To be sure, some are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from goodwill, out of love… others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives.
1 Corinthians 12:31, But earnestly desire the greatest gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
B. Imagine a kingdom of servants
- That's a kingdom I would want to live in and be part of, but we all need to have that heart.
Illus – Imagine what marriages would be like if both husband and wife had that heart to serve one another.
Imagine what churches would be like if everyone in that church had a heart to serve one another.
Illus - One year our youth group went to Mexico to minister to the orphans there, but the leaders noticed that many of the youth were trying to get out of the difficult tasks, so they came up with a phrase to capture the right heart, "I would love to."
John 13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
- If you can imagine a kingdom of servants, try to also imagine the opposite, a kingdom of people trying to lord themselves over everyone, that's exactly why Jesus said, "Don't be like the world." His way is clearly higher than our way.
C. Live to benefit others
- Jesus said that He Himself was the example for them to follow; "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
- Did Christ serve you? Yes, absolutely, He died on the cross to take your sins upon Himself out of His great love for you.
- Was Christ humble? Absolutely. So much so that God highly exalted Him.
Philippians 2:8, Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
- Can I suggest a way to serve others around you? Be pleasant, be a blessing, don't be a complainer, or a whiner, don't focus on what's wrong in your world. A servant doesn't complain; there is no job too difficult, no challenge too great; rely on the power of God that works within you.
Illus - Jesus said that if you want to find your life, you must lose it. Some researchers came up with a statistic; the happiest people are those who do benevolent things for others.
Matthew 19:27-20:28 NASB
27 Then Peter said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?" 28 And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.
1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 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.'
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing 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 may 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 to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." 23 He said to them, "My
cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father."