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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1 - Matthew 20-21: Jesus Uses a Vineyard to Teach the Expansion of the "God's Chosen People" Label

Today’s Reading: Matthew 20-21

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God would soon take the His exclusive "Chosen People" tag from Israel and give it to others.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Israel would not receive more blessings because she was called first.
James and John's mother asked that her sons be given the highest places of honor at Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection. "I do not give places of honor. The first will be last."
Blind men called Jesus' healing name.
Many people honored Jesus while entering Jerusalem—fulfilling prophecy.
Jesus outraged religious leaders in the Temple.
Jesus condemned a fig tree for not bearing fruit.
Jesus played political chess with the religious leaders.
"Unrighteous" people who changed would enter God's Kingdom before Israelites. God would hand the Kingdom to new people.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

The three parables of the vineyard told Israel they would be replaced since they were not doing their job.

God called Israel to be lighthouses to the nations. Instead, Israel acted like everyone else and eventually placed idols in the Temple in Honor of God. Jesus gave three parables which would anger Israel because they removed their exclusivity on being "God's Chosen People". They told God they would obey Him, failed to follow through, killed His Chosen Prophets, killed His Son, and complained that they were given the exact-same wage as a person who set things right later in life. That isn't a good track record.
As God's Chosen People today, we need to make sure we understand these parables. We must follow through on our promises to obey God. We must not reject His Chosen Messengers. We must not complain when others receive the same blessing as we do though they came to know Him late in life. These are difficult things to do—though you probably already knew that. Many places in the world see an explosion of people setting things right who are not part of an "organized" religion when God's Chosen People fail to act. We should not feel threatened or angered by this. We should realize that God gives blessings to anyone who sets things right and punishes His Chosen People who reject His Message.

The blind men were healed because they did not listen to the crowd but cried out to God anyway.

May we find more and more people willing to cry out to God even though the people around them are telling them to stop. (No, I'm not talking about the guy on the street with the bullhorn telling people how their sins are going to land them in Hell for eternity. He should stop. Now.)

Jesus is preparing for His Crucifixion.

We started the long trek toward the crucifixion a few days ago. As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, His Followers greeted Him as they should—a benevolent King who asks for voluntary worship, not forced obeisance. I believe this episode gave Him hope as He moved toward the end.

The Temple was a house of prayer, not a house of merchandise.

We have read a similar story in John, so I will not go into detail here. However, I wanted to remind us that a space that has been dedicated to God should stay dedicated to God. It should be used to set relationships right.

Are you willing to cry out to God even when the crowds tell you not to?


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