Jeremiah 6 & Matthew 20

Jeremiah 6

    Flee for safety, O people of Benjamin,
        from the midst of Jerusalem!
    Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,
        and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem,
    for disaster looms out of the north,
        and great destruction.
    The lovely and delicately bred I will destroy,
        the daughter of Zion.
    Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her;
        they shall pitch their tents around her;
        they shall pasture, each in his place.
    “Prepare war against her;
        arise, and let us attack at noon!
    Woe to us, for the day declines,
        for the shadows of evening lengthen!
    Arise, and let us attack by night
        and destroy her palaces!”
    
    
    For thus says the LORD of hosts:
    “Cut down her trees;
        cast up a siege mound against Jerusalem.
    This is the city that must be punished;
        there is nothing but oppression within her.
    As a well keeps its water fresh,
        so she keeps fresh her evil;
    violence and destruction are heard within her;
        sickness and wounds are ever before me.
    Be warned, O Jerusalem,
        lest I turn from you in disgust,
    lest I make you a desolation,
        an uninhabited land.”
    
    
    Thus says the LORD of hosts:
    “They shall glean thoroughly as a vine
        the remnant of Israel;
    like a grape gatherer pass your hand again
        over its branches.”
    To whom shall I speak and give warning,
        that they may hear?
    Behold, their ears are uncircumcised,
        they cannot listen;
    behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn;
        they take no pleasure in it.
    Therefore I am full of the wrath of the LORD;
        I am weary of holding it in.
    “Pour it out upon the children in the street,
        and upon the gatherings of young men, also;
    both husband and wife shall be taken,
        the elderly and the very aged.
    Their houses shall be turned over to others,
        their fields and wives together,
    for I will stretch out my hand
        against the inhabitants of the land,”
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD.
    “For from the least to the greatest of them,
        everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
    and from prophet to priest,
        everyone deals falsely.
    They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
        saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
        when there is no peace.
    Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
        No, they were not at all ashamed;
        they did not know how to blush.
    Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
        at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,”
                                                                                                                                                                    says the LORD.
    
    
    Thus says the LORD:
    “Stand by the roads, and look,
        and ask for the ancient paths,
    where the good way is; and walk in it,
        and find rest for your souls.
    But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
    I set watchmen over you, saying,
        ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’
    But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’
    Therefore hear, O nations,
        and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
    Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people,
        the fruit of their devices,
    because they have not paid attention to my words;
        and as for my law, they have rejected it.
    What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,
        or sweet cane from a distant land?
    Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,
        nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.
    Therefore thus says the LORD:
    ‘Behold, I will lay before this people
        stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;
    fathers and sons together,
        neighbor and friend shall perish.’”
    
    
    Thus says the LORD:
    “Behold, a people is coming from the north country,
        a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
    They lay hold on bow and javelin;
        they are cruel and have no mercy;
        the sound of them is like the roaring sea;
    they ride on horses,
        set in array as a man for battle,
        against you, O daughter of Zion!”
    We have heard the report of it;
        our hands fall helpless;
    anguish has taken hold of us,
        pain as of a woman in labor.
    Go not out into the field,
        nor walk on the road,
    for the enemy has a sword;
        terror is on every side.
    O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth,
        and roll in ashes;
    make mourning as for an only son,
        most bitter lamentation,
    for suddenly the destroyer
        will come upon us.
    
    
    “I have made you a tester of metals among my people,
        that you may know and test their ways.
    They are all stubbornly rebellious,
        going about with slanders;
    they are bronze and iron;
        all of them act corruptly.
    The bellows blow fiercely;
        the lead is consumed by the fire;
    in vain the refining goes on,
        for the wicked are not removed.
    Rejected silver they are called,
        for the LORD has rejected them.”

(Jeremiah 6 ESV)

Matthew 20

    “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

    And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

    Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

(Matthew 20 ESV)

Matthew 20: The Kingdom of God turns the governing systems of this world completely upside down. Who in this world strives to be a servant or a slave? Who in this world desires to pay tribute to others over being paid tribute by others? The Kingdom of God is an exceptional Kingdom, but then again Jesus is an exceptional King. 

Christ did not come to exalt Himself or claim any part of the royal dignity He undoubtedly deserved. Christ the Creator took on the lower form of His very own creation and then allowed His creation to subject Him to the disgracefulness of public humiliation and execution upon a wooden cross. He could have revealed His awesome glory and powerful status as the Sovereign God of the universe, but He chose to serve rather than being served. If Christ desired to serve and sacrifice His life for the benefit of others, why would we seek any rank higher than a servant to all as well?

It would be less than honest for me to not admit that I desire greatness, honor, praise, respect, fame, popularity and prestige. The desire to claim the status as a slave and servant to all seems noble yet impractical. May God forgive us for such narrow-mindedness and forgive us for ever seeking a status greater than His. May we embrace the greatness of giving our lives.