Beyond the Jordan Part II
This is part II of the Gospel Backgrounds lesson titled, “Beyond the Jordan.”
To begin the lesson, Jesus receives a question from a “rich, young ruler” about what must be done to inherit eternal life. We often think that the young man has a “works righteousness” mindset - in other words, if a person has enough good deeds, he or she will merit eternal salvation. This is true to some degree, but notice Jesus’ answer.
He doesn’t say “to get eternal life, all you need to do is accept Me into your heart.” In response to the immediate question, Jesus says first “keep the commandments”. Then when pressed further, He says, “one thing you lack: sell everything, give it to the poor, then follow Me.”
Note that Jesus doesn’t rebuke the young man about being self-righteous, nor does Jesus correct the man’s errant theology. The man had a heart issue, not a head issue. There is a lot more going on with this exchange than it may first appear. We will take a peek under the hood to get at some of the lessons for our lives.
The exchange befuddles the disciples. They “remind” Jesus that they HAVE left everything and followed their Rabbi as His talmidim. Jesus assures them that their sacrifices will not go unrewarded.
Matthew 20 begins with one of my favorite parables, the parable of the workers. A man needs workers for his vineyard. He finds some early in the day, but also at various points throughout the day, including at the “11th hour” right before the work is to end.
When the work is done, the owner calls the workers from last to first and, to the surprise of those hired early, everyone is paid a denarious, a full day’s wage. Those hired early in the day gripe that this is unfair. Is is right that someone who did 1/12 of the work get paid the same as those who did a full day’s work? The owner replies that the first group agreed to the wage, and besides what He does with his money is his business and no one else’s.
The parable is rich with meaning and has several practical and spiritual applications. We will discuss a few of these in the lesson.
The section concludes with Jesus receiving a request from James and John to sit at Jesus’ right and left hands during the millennial kingdom, which is often portrayed as a great banquet. Instead of rebuking their pride, Jesus explains what it means to sit by his side and “drink His cup”. This act of presumption, naturally, irks the other ten disciples. Jesus explains that our mission as disciples is not to be serve but to serve.
Read/Listen to the portions
- Matthew 19:16-20:28
- Mark 10:17-45
- Luke 18:18-34