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Matthew 20:20-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Selfish Request Rejected

Matthew 20:20-23 – A Selfish Request Rejected

|| Mark 10:35-40

MT20:20 Later[1] the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and bowed[2] wishing to ask a favor from him. MT20:21 Jesus asked her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Promise[3] that my two sons may be enthroned with you[4] in your kingdom – one on your left and one on your right.” MT20:22 But Jesus answered her, “You do not realize[5] what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?”[6] The [two disciples] said, “We are able!” MT20:23 Jesus told them, “You will really drink my Cup. However, this sitting on my right and left is not my decision to make.[7] Rather it belongs to those my Father has prepared.”[8]

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[1] Later: Some time has elapsed from the mountain retreat.

[2] Bowed: The Greek is PROSKUNOUSA. Or, KJV: worshipping him; KNX: falling on her knees; TCNT: bowing to the ground. Research the word worship.

[3] Promise: Or, KJV: grant; ASV: command; PME: please say.

[4] Enthroned with you: Literally, “sit.” Compare Revelation 3:21. See notes on Matthew 19:28.

[5] You do not realize: It is likely this is directed at the two disciples, James and John, also called the “sons of thunder.” The parallel accounts have them making the request (likely through their mother). Or, NEB: you do not understand; MON: none of you know what you are asking.

[6] To drink the cup I am about to drink: The KJV adds: baptized with the baptism. The “cup” is something to drink, share, or partake of. Compare notes on Matthew 26:39 (Mark 14:36; John 18:11). Paul says something similar at Romans 6:3-5. The disciples are destined to share a fate and life course similar to their Lord.

[7] Not my decision to make: Literally, KJV: not mine to give. It seems evident that there are certain matters that are the prerogative of the Father. Compare Acts 1:7. The Son has limited authority and knowledge while the Father’s is absolute.

[8] It belongs to those my Father has prepared: Or, KJV: it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared; KNX: it is for those for whom my Father has destined it; NEB: it is for those to whim it has already been assigned. The conclusions drawn from this are many. Some see predestination here. Others hold different views. It is interesting that the Nazarene just doesn’t say there are no such privileged positions in heaven. The whole subject still relates back to the appointment of Peter in Matthew 16:18 and the ongoing argument over who is the greatest among them. We ourselves are embarrassed that two of the apostles would get their mother to ask the Lord for this privilege. How the others felt we will now see.

The Greek word translated “prepared” is HETOIMASTAI. “Strong’s #2090 HETOIMAZO {het-oy-mad’-zo} from 2092; TDNT – 2:704, 266; AV – prepare 29, make ready 10, provide 1; 40. 1) to make ready, prepare; 1a) to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready; 2) metaph. 2a) drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable; 2b) to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure his blessings.” The main idea may be no more than that God has purposed something according to His will and thus has made all the preparations necessary to accomplish this.

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Preceding

Matthew 20:1-7 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Kingdom and Vineyard Workers

Matthew 20:8-16 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Last, First; First, Last

Matthew 20:17-19 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Onward to Jerusalem!

Matthew 5:38-42 – 5. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 21:24

Matthew 5:38-42 – 5. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 21:24

MT5:38 “You heard it said: ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’[1] [Exodus 21:24] MT5:39 But, I tell you: Do not resist[2] wicked authority. But, whoever slaps your right cheek,[3] turn to him the other. MT5:40 And, the one with a legal settlement against you for your inner garment, let him have the outer. MT5:41 And, whoever impresses you to go one mile,[4] go two. MT5:42 Give to those asking[5] and do not turn away from the one wanting to borrow.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (portret omstreeks de late jaren 1930)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence from Great Britain, and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

[1] Eye for eye and tooth for tooth: Ghandi commented that all this Law did was make a world of blind persons. There is no case of this ever being done literally in the Hebrew Bible. The subject is “revenge” which the Nazarene discourages.

[2] Do not resist: The principle behind the Civil Rights Movement. Compare Romans 12:17 and 1 Peter 2:23: yielding. Most do not see the Nazarene teaching pacifism, others do. NJB ftn:

“The gospel does not forbid reasonable defense against unjust aggression.”

Though we do not find the Nazarene making use of this (John 18:22, 36).

The subject may be “wicked authority” represented in either the Roman occupiers or the harsh religious hierarchy. There are three examples within this context of “wicked authority”: a) an insult; b) legal matters; and, c) forced civil service. Here are the sources for “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile.” (Note Mark 15:21: authority)

Large outdoor gathering

World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, 2011

[3] Slaps your right cheek: An open-handed insult. The Nazarene experiences this (John 18:22).

[4] Impresses you to go one mile: Such rights by the State are current in most countries. For example, in the United States the police may command one’s vehicle or the fire department may impress one into fire-fighting.

[5] Give to those asking: A hallmark of the Nazarene’s teachings. Various renderings: MOF: the man who begs; WMS: keeps on begging. Compare Acts 20:35 in a rare allusion or quotation of the Nazarene by Paul. These include interest free loans (See Deuteronomy 23:19 and Luke 6:32-34: loans). Luke the Physician is stronger on this matter than Matthew the Tax-collector, the former discouraging loans completely and stressing giving. A real test on the Nazarene Saint is the pocketbook and is demonstrated in being ‘liberal’ (Romans 12:8, 13; 1 Timothy 6:17-19). The Nazarene Saint who refuses to share that good bounty God has given is in serious danger (James 1:27; 2:15-17; 1 John 3:16-18).

Luke includes the giving nearer the context of love for enemies. The Good Doctor includes interest free loans and not expecting any repayment (See Deuteronomy 15:7; Proverbs 21:26; Matthew 5:42: giving).

Does all of this suggest a commandment for all Friends of the Nazarene to divest themselves of their possessions or property? Judging from the descriptions in the Book of Acts this was not a command but a voluntary matter. Peter tells Ananias,

‘When it was unsold, did it not remain your property; and after it was sold, did not the value remain in your control?’ (Acts 5:4)

Peter nowhere argues:

“Did not the Nazarene teach you to sell everything and give to the poor.”

It was completely voluntary, though one can sense a degree of peer pressure from the Nazarene Community of Saints. Later when Paul argues these matters with the Corinthians and then with Timothy, he never resorts to the authority of the Nazarene about selling all. He merely tells Timothy, ‘To command the rich’ and then gives a list of strongly suggested items (1 Timothy 6:17-19). Certainly the Nazarene, and also God, encourage a “simple eye” on “guard against covetousness” (Luke 12:15), always remembering that the Father is paying close attention to how the Nazarene Saint uses material possessions.

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Preceding articles

Matthew 5:33-37 – 4. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Numbers 30:3

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:10-14 – “What Shall We Do?”

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Additional reading

  1. In a world which knows no peace sharing blessed hope
  2. A man who cannot forgive others
  3. When discouraged facing opposition
  4. God should be your hope
  5. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
  6. Ability (part 7) Thought about the ability to grow as a member of the Body of Christ
  7. When having taken a new direction in life, having become a Christian
  8. Priest, scribes and others with authority
  9. Many forgot how Christ should be our anchor and our focus
  10. Church sent into the world
  11. Fellowship
  12. Love is like playing the piano
  13. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love
  14. How do you keep people from stealing your joy?
  15. Work with joy and pray with love
  16. What Does Love Look Like?
  17. Overcome division with core values
  18. Cognizance at the doorstep or at the internet socket
  19. A true sermon is a real deed.
  20. How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice

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Further related reading

  1. City on a Hill
  2. Psalms 13: Has God Forgotten Me?
  3. 10 Biblical Passages That Radically Shape My Worldview
  4. Christians, It’s Time to Stop Saying “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.”
  5. Chiseled for Change: Part 2
  6. Jesus interprets the Law through love
  7. Letting the Bible study you – Part three
  8. The point is…do you know Love?
  9. The hermeneutics of love – part two
  10. Jesus’ Subversive Kingdom – Part Four
  11. Give me dove’s eyes
  12. It’s Not About Chick-fil-A–It’s About You Standing For Christian Values
  13. Be Strong Be Courageous
  14. There is more to life than meets the eye.
  15. The heart has an ” inner eye ” …..
  16. With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony…

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:10-14 – “What Shall We Do?”

Luke 3:10-14 – “What Shall We Do?”

LK3:10 So the crowds asked John: “What shall we do?”[1] LK3:11 John told them: “The person with two outer cloaks should share[2] with the person having none, and the person with food should do the same.” LK3:12 Then tax collectors came to be baptized and they asked John: “Teacher, what shall we do?” LK3:13 John told them: “Do not collect more tax than is required by law.”[3] LK3:14 Now soldiers also asked him: “What shall we do?” John answered them: “Do not extort money[4] from anyone, and do not slander any person.[5] Be satisfied with your wages.”[6]


[1] What shall we do: Likely the question is in response to the “fruitage that befits repentance.”

[2] Share: It is interesting to note the first answer to the question, “What shall we do?” The spirit is at the center of what the Nazarene is to teach later. [Luke 6:30-35] The early Christians did this in great measure. [Acts 2, 4, 5] For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on “sharing” at Romans 12:13 and 2 Corinthians 8:14.

[3] Do not collect more tax than is required by law: Or, WMS: stop collecting any more than is prescribed for you. Compare an example at Luke 19:8.

[4] Do not extort money: Or, molest no one, rob no one, don’t use threats. It is interesting John does not tell them to leave their military service.

[5] Do not slander any person: Or, blackmail, false accusation, informing. [Exodus 23:1, 7]

[6] Be satisfied with your wages: Or, supplies, provisions. The military is always under paid for what they do.

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Preceding articles:

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:3-6 – John Preaches Baptism of Repentance

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:7-9 – Vipers, Repent!

Connecting articles:

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

Next: Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:15-17 – The Baptisms of the One Coming

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Additional reading:

  1. Creator and Blogger God 4 Expounding voice
  2. Missional hermeneutics 4/5 call to repentance
  3. Bearing fruit
  4. Fruits of the spirit will prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful
  5. God showing how far He is willing to go to save His children
  6. God receives us on the basis of our faith
  7. Breathing and growing with no heir
  8. Repentance and conversion are not milestones which we pass on the way of life and never see again
  9. Words to push and pull
  10. The Ecclesia
  11. The Ecclesia in the churchsystem
  12. Fellowship
  13. Re-Creating Community
  14. Bloggers for Christ and Bloggers for Peace
  15. A man who cannot forgive others
  16. God should be your hope
  17. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

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  • Preparing the Way (graceofourlord.com)
    If this writer kept a “top ten list” of the most important chapters of scripture in the Bible, Luke Chapter 3 would almost certainly be in that list, for reasons that will hopefully become apparent by the end of this blog.
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    All of these things together make up the crux of what John’s commission by God is all about, as far as “to prepare the way” is concerned. This is part of what makes this chapter of Luke one of the most important in the New Testament. There has been no word from God for 400 years – since Malachi foretold the coming of John the Baptist in Malachi 3:1 and 4:5. Now comes John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Leviticus 3-4, Luke 3 (vesselsofclay.org)
    He told them that their lives needed to reflect a passion for the things that pleased God. “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:11 ESV). He told the tax collectors to “collect no more than you are authorized to do” (Luke 3:13 ESV). He told the soldiers to “not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14 ESV).John was demanding life change. He was letting them know that their lives were going to have to be distinctively different than what they had been. It wasn’t going to be business as usual. They were to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8 ESV). Things were about to heat up. Expectations were about to ratchet up. He warned them, “even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:9 ESV). God’s expectations for holiness hadn’t changed. His demands for a people who would live holy lives and act in accordance with His Word and in keeping with their character as one of His children, had not changed.
  • Matthew 3:1-10, Mark 1:1-6, Luke 3:1-14 (oh-mag.com)
    Now as John sees the Pharisees and Sadducees coming he is indignant and asks who warned them to flee from the coming wrath. He calls them a brood of vipers – not very complimentary – likening them to a mass of evil creatures who have seen the fire approaching. John tells them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. This is a weighty command. Later in the New Testament we see what this fruit looks like: love, joy, peace, perseverance – all of these things come from a desire to continually repent and seek God in all matters. It is the ultimate way we can know Him as Lord. John then accuses them of their thinking that just because they are Abraham’s seed they will be safe from the fires of Hell. This would have shocked not only the teachers, but the Jewish people as well.
  • Fruit of Repentance (mfmdelaware.wordpress.com)
    The fruit of repentance should be seen in you as a Christian; this is the demand of John in Matt3:8. Ceremonies are by the way, fruit yielding is more important. Through fruits, you salt the world and give light to those in darkness. By your fruit Jesus derives satisfaction, Mark11:12-13. He made them to know that He never came to abolish the law but to fulfill it. In addition, He made them to know that doing the commandments will give you the status of heaven. These are to prepare them for what He was about to teach them; immorality, divorce, tolerance, anger, lack of love, worries etc. these are the areas where human logics are being utilized to excuse the law. He gave detailed explanation to all these areas.
  • “Bear Fruits In Keeping With …” Bible Reading Thoughts for March 12th (therugbychristadelphians.wordpress.com)
    What an incredible impact the preaching of John the Baptist had!  We do not realize this at first – but there are clues here and there – look at Acts 18 v.25 and 19 v.3.  Paul comes across those at Ephesus who knew only the baptism of John– a vast distance from the Jordan.     What stood out in our chapter 3 in Luke today was the bluntness of John’s message; it was far from being simply an appeal to love your neighbour as yourself – which is the substance of the preaching in many churches today.  They had to examine themselves and change their ways and “bear fruits in keeping with repentence” – to put it bluntly, to show they were repentant by actions – not just words.
  • The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 3:1-12 (anchorlongbeach.wordpress.com)
    Although the Greek word for “Repentance” is Metanoia, which carries the idea of a changed mind, theologian D.A. Carson writes; “What is meant is not merely intellectual change of mind or more grief, still less doing penance…but a radical transformation of the entire person, a fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief, which results in ‘fruit in keeping with repentance.’
  • – The Baptism & Death of Jesus – (hiseternalword.wordpress.com)
    Believer’s baptism is not an act of repentance but an expression of personal identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. By being baptized, those who are born again announce their severance from their former lives of sin and their possession of a new life in Christ.
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