This weekend we will be continuing our study of Matthew’s Gospel as Gary preaches on Matthew chapter 20.While we had originally planned for this week to have the Elder’s teach and present a vision casting presentation for the 2016 year, we suddenly realized that a majority of the Elders are out of town, and so we will be switching the next two weeks. Where this will effect you practically is that our printed devotionals will be backwards for the next two weeks- indeed, "the last will be first and the first will be last”? Grace, Mercy and Two Kinds of Blindness…

Matthew chapter 20 is a parable told in response to Jesus' encounter with the Rich Young Ruler at the end of chapter 19. Jesus uses this parable of the landowner and the laborers to highlight the “equity” of God’s Grace, and His Sovereignty in lavishing that Grace on those whom He choses, and even seeks out. His Grace and Mercy is boundless. This teaching is meant to challenge his disciples, (and our), persistent temptation to judge, categorize, qualify, and scrutinize who is deserving of God’s favor- (who, when and how much). This parable blows that all apart and wants to leave the reader in a place of resigned humility and worship of such a Gracious, and clearly infinitely wise God.

Monday- READ- Matthew 19:30 The parable following in Ch.20 is set up by this statement. How does Jesus intend for the disciples to understand this “riddle”? Before exploring this parable, what is your understand of this teaching? Note your response and compare again after finishing this week’s devos.

Tuesday- READ- Matthew 20:1-15 (Focus on vs.11-12) Why were the workers who’d labored the longest upset with the wage given to them? Was the landowner “fair” in his pay of His workers? How can you see the Grace of God exuding through this parable already?

Wednesday- READ- Matthew 20:1-15 (Focus on vs. 13-15) The landowner answered the complaints of the earliest workers. How does He justify His actions? How is God similarly “unfairly” gracious? Are there people or situations that make you feel that God is wrongfully lavish with His Grace and Mercy?

Thursday- READ- Matthew 20:1-16 (Focus on vs.15-16) Jesus drives home His point by re-quoting Ch.19:30. How does this parable change your understanding of the teaching that bookends the parable (see Monday’s devo)- that the last will be first and the first last? Let’s pray for Grace in our response to GOD’s Grace when He saves someone we deem “unworthy” or too far gone to be saved.

Friday- READ- Matthew 20:17-19 Jesus follows up this parable with a fourth reminder His own crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Is your theology of salvation grounded in Christ’s Cross as the instrument of God’s Grace and Mercy to those who will believe?

The Responses- Matthew immediately contrasts the responses of the disciples to that of two blind men on the road…

Saturday- READ- Matthew 20:20-28 Immediately following this parable and Jesus’ reminder that He will suffer and die, two of the disciples (through their mother) respond almost with- “That’s nice, but can we talk about who’s the best?” How is this calloused arrogance a clear miss on the disciples part in understanding Jesus’ call on their lives? Recall your own story of Christ’s work in your own life and thank Him for His Grace today.

Sunday- READ- Matthew 20:29-34 The response of these two is downright beautiful and is in stark contrast to that of the disciples in the few verse above. How does Matthew use the placement of this event, and especially the fact that they are yelling the title “Jesus, Son of David”, denoting again Jesus’ rightful Kingship, as an intentional ideal of the kind of faith that moves the heart of Jesus? Read this exchange again and allow their response to prepare your heart for worship today!