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Matthew chapter 20

New International Version

1 For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'
5 So they went. 'He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'
7 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. 'He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'
8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'
9 The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 These who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
13 But he answered one of them, 'I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.'
17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!'
20 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
21 What is it you want?' he asked. She said, 'Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.'
22 You don't know what you are asking,' Jesus said to them. 'Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?' 'We can,' they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, 'You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.'
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'
29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'
32 Jesus stopped and called them. 'What do you want me to do for you?' he asked.
33 Lord,' they answered, 'we want our sight.'
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
English Standard Version

1 “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. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 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?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 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.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 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.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “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 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 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.” 22 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.” 23 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.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 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. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 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!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
King James Version

1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? 33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
New American Standard Bible

1 'For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 'When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 'And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And so they went. 5 'Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 'And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day long?' 7 'They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.'
8 'When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.' 9 'When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 'When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 'When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.' 13 'But he answered and said to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 'Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?' 16 'So the last shall be first, and the first last.'
17 As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, 18 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.'
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. 21 And He said to her, 'What do you wish?' She said to Him, 'Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.' 22 But Jesus answered, 'You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?' They said to Him, 'We are able.' 23 He said to them, 'My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.'
24 And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 'It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'
29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. 30 And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' 31 The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!' 32 And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' 33 They said to Him, 'Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.' 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.
New Living Translation

1 'For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.
3 'At nine o'clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o'clock he did the same thing.
6 'At five o'clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, 'Why haven't you been working today?'
7 'They replied, 'Because no one hired us.' 'The landowner told them, 'Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.'
8 'That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o'clock were paid, each received a full day's wage. 10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day's wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 12 'Those people worked only one hour, and yet you've paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.'
13 'He answered one of them, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair! Didn't you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?'
16 'So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.'
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 'Listen,' he said, 'we're going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.'
20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor.
21 'What is your request?' he asked. She replied, 'In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.'
22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, 'You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?' 'Oh yes,' they replied, 'we are able!'
23 Jesus told them, 'You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.'
24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.'
29 As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. 30 Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'
31 'Be quiet!' the crowd yelled at them. But they only shouted louder, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'
32 When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, 'What do you want me to do for you?'
33 'Lord,' they said, 'we want to see!' 34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.
Christian Standard Bible

1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the workers on one denarius, he sent them into his vineyard for the day. 3 When he went out about nine in the morning, he saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He said to them, 'You also go into my vineyard, and I'll give you whatever is right.' So off they went. 5 About noon and about three, he went out again and did the same thing. 6 Then about five he went and found others standing around and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?'
7 "'Because no one hired us,' they said to him. "'You also go into my vineyard,' he told them. 8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told his foreman, 'Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with the last and ending with the first.'
9 "When those who were hired about five came, they each received one denarius. 10 So when the first ones came, they assumed they would get more, but they also received a denarius each. 11 When they received it, they began to complain to the landowner: 12 'These last men put in one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day's work and the burning heat.'
13 "He replied to one of them, 'Friend, I'm doing you no wrong. Didn't you agree with me on a denarius? 14 Take what's yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with what is mine? Are you jealous because I'm generous?'
16 "So the last will be first, and the first last."
17 While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside privately and said to them on the way, 18 "See, we are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death. 19 They will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and on the third day he will be raised."
20 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons approached him with her sons. She knelt down to ask him for something.
21 "What do you want?" he asked her. "Promise," she said to him, "that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right and the other on your left, in your kingdom."
22 Jesus answered, "You don't know what you're asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" "We are able," they said to him.
23 He told them, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right and left is not mine to give; instead, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
24 When the ten disciples heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them over and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 There were two blind men sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" 31 The crowd demanded that they keep quiet, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"
32 Jesus stopped, called them, and said, "What do you want me to do for you?"
33 "Lord," they said to him, "open our eyes." 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they could see, and they followed him.

What does Matthew chapter 20 mean?

Matthew 20 records Jesus' teaching, interactions, and healing as He and the disciples continue to travel toward Jerusalem. It begins with the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. The parable follows Jesus' statements about the disciples' eternal rewards for following Him. He told them that everyone who leaves behind much to follow Him will be richly rewarded and receive eternal life. He added, though, that many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:29–30).

Now Jesus tells a parable to illustrate what this means. He pictures the master of a household in need of workers for his vineyard, likely for the harvest. He goes out early in the morning and hires a group of day-laborers for the agreed-upon price of one denarius a day. Needing still more workers, the master of the house returns to the market place every three hours or so, hiring another group each time for "whatever is right" as compensation (Matthew 20:1–7).

When the time to pay the workers comes, the group hired early in the morning is excited when they see the master pay those hired at 5 p.m. a full denarius. They assume he will pay them much more. They grumble at the master when he pays them a denarius, as well. However, this is exactly what they had agreed to work for. The master insists he has the right to be generous to whomever he chooses. Jesus concludes the story by repeating His teaching that the last will be first, and the first last. This message is somewhat parallel to the end of the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:25–32): if God seems to be even more generous to others than He is to us, that does not mean we're being cheated or treated unfairly (Matthew 20:8–16).

Next, Jesus clearly tells the disciples for the third time (Matthew 16:21; 17:22–23) that when they reach Jerusalem, He will be condemned to death by the Jewish religious leaders and then handed over the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified. He adds that He will be raised on the third day (Matthew 20:17–19).

Then Jesus is approached by the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Some scholars think this woman is Salome (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; John 19:25), and possibly Mary's sister. This would make her Jesus' aunt. She asks that her sons be chosen to sit at Jesus' left and right hands in His kingdom. This means they will have the highest positions under Jesus Himself. Jesus turns to James and John and says they don't know what they're asking. He asks if they can drink His cup, meaning the suffering that He will experience. He agrees that they will drink His cup—enduring their own trials and persecution—but answers that the Father is the one who will grant such positions in the kingdom (Matthew 20:20–23).

The other disciples are furious. They recognize this as an attempt by James and John to elevate themselves above the rest and grab power in the kingdom. Jesus explains that greatness in His kingdom is not about ruling over others as the Gentiles do. Instead, those who would be great should serve the others. Whoever would be first must be a slave to the others. After all, Jesus has come to serve and not to be served. This is a lesson He will demonstrate in a very personal way when He washes the disciple's feet during the Last Supper (John 13:12–17). As with His lesson on rewards, Jesus continues to challenge assumptions about greatness and power (Matthew 20:24–28).

Finally, two blind roadside beggars call out to Jesus while He is passing them on the way to Jerusalem. They ask Him to have mercy on them and call Him the Son of David, the name for the Messiah. Jesus heals their blindness. Mark's account (Mark 10:46–52), like Luke's (Luke 18:35–43), focuses on only one of the men, named Bartimaeus. The "Jericho" in question is not the exact same one featured in the book of Joshua (Joshua 6), but a long-removed resettlement nearby. Modern preachers often bring up this event, noting that this is the last time Jesus will pass by this location. The blind men don't know it, but this was their last chance to meet Christ. We never know when a call to follow Jesus in faith will be the last one of our lives (Matthew 20:29–34).