Matthew 20 starts out with this parable of the householder who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. It's actually a series of parables from chapters 20 through 22 where Jesus is illustrating some of the same truths over and over again. I want to look at those tonight. Beginning in verse number one, the bible reads, Matthew 20:1, "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, and when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard, and he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them, 'Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you,' and they went their way.
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise, 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? 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.
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, and when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny, but when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny, and when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, 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,' but he answered one of them, and said, 'Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.'"
Now, in this parable, there are a lot of things that we could lean, and there are some things we could just learn about our practical lives. Then there's also a greater meaning when you put it in the context of chapters 20 all the way up through chapter 25. Here in this scripture, we see that these laborers have this misguided view of what is fair and what is not.
At the end of the day, God is the one who decides what's fair. We, as human beings have our own ideas probably about what's fair. You'll often hear people say, "Well, I just don't think that's fair or I don't think God should have done it that way." At the end of the day, he's God. He decides what's fair, he decides what's right. Here, we can learn something about God's view of fairness.
At the beginning of the day, he agreed with the laborers. They bargained with him and said, "This is what we're willing to work for." He said, "This is what I'm willing to pay," and they agreed upon a penny which obviously is a different unit of measure from the penny that we know today. Otherwise, it wouldn't really be worth working for 12 hours. They agreed on a certain price.
Then he goes out later and basically, just hires people who were willing to just accept it on faith because he just says to them, "Hey, go into the vineyard," three hours late, three hours into the day. He says, "Go in the vineyard, and whatever is right, I'll give you." He's saying to them, "I'm going to pay you a fair price."
They have to trust him, don't they because there has been no agreement made. Sometimes, one person's idea of what a fair wage is is different than someone else's, but he just expects them to just believe him and trust him that he will give them that which is right, and he does the same thing at the sixth hour, the ninth hour.
Then even at the 11th hour, there's only one hour left in the workday. This is a 12-hour workday. Think of it as 6 AM to 6 PM. So there's one hour left, and he goes out and he still find some people that are idle, they're not working, they're not doing anything. He even hires them.
Now, at the end of the day when he goes to pay the laborers, just to even make a point, he pays them first. So these people who came with the 11th hour not only did they only work for one hour as supposed to 12. They only worked for one hour, but not only that, they get paid first. Others are still waiting in line to receive their payment.
In fact, the people who've been working since 6 AM wait the longest to get paid. Of course, they're upset because when they see the guy who worked for one hour get a penny, they're thinking, "Hmm, one times 12, whoa! We thought we were going to get a penny for today's work. We're getting 12 times what we thought or at least something more." Then they see the people from the ninth hour get the penny, and the sixth hour get the penny, the third hour people who've worked for nine hours, they get one penny.
Then it comes to them and they get one penny. They're angry. They complained. They beaker. Here's the thing. They really had nothing to complain about because they made an agreement that they were going to do it for a certain price and they got exactly what was coming to them. Yet, the thing that burned them up was to see someone else get a better deal. That's what it came down here.
It would be like if you went to the store and bought something, and you said, "Oh, yeah. This is an acceptable price for what I'm buying," and then you paid for it. Then a week later, it went on sale, and people were paying way less. You're like, "Man, I could have paid so much less," but that's human nature, but is it right? Is it the right attitude to sit there and look at other people and think to yourself, "That's not fair."
Again, this goes back to the sermon on being childish. People who are childish, they're envious and that's how they are, especially among little kids where they say, "Hey, why did he get a piece of candy and I didn't? Why is his piece of pie bigger than mine?" Kids are obsessed with this thing of equality, aren't they? "You've made them equal unto us, who have borne the burden and heat of the day."
Let's talk about equality. Little kids are really big on this. I mean, it has to be fair. If you give it to one, you got to give it to everybody, but is that biblical? No. Biblically, I could give something to one person and another person who didn't receive that can't really get mad at me for being nice to someone else and giving them extra, and giving them more than they deserve.
All throughout the bible, we see this phenomenon, all the way back to Genesis. When Joseph receives a code of many colors. Why are the children angry at their father? Why are they angry at Joseph? Is it because they didn't have nice enough clothes? Is it because they hadn't been given good enough food and good enough gifts? No. It was because their brother got more, and that just isn't right. That just isn't fair. So they're looking at that and envying him.
See, a mature Christian attitude is when we look at ourselves only and we think about all the things that God has done for us, the blessings that he's given us, and we realized that God is good. We don't worry about someone else. If someone else does get more than us, we're happy for them. That's the right attitude that we should have, not to be grudged at other people.
The right attitude, and obviously, this might go against the rain because we're all sinful human beings. The right attitude is, "Wow! Those people really got a cool deal. They only worked for an hour and they still got a penny. Good for them. Good for them." I mean, that's the right attitude, because notice what the householder who represents God is saying.
He says in verse 15, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" He said, "Look. What if I just want to give away free money? Is that against the law for me to just give somebody too much money and pay them too much for their job? Isn't it my stuff? " Take that thine is, and go thy way," he says. "Is thine eye evil, because I am good?"
What does it mean to have the evil eye? The one that covets. If you study that term in the bible where it talks about, "If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" In that passage it says, no man can serve two masters. Hate the one and love the other or hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. The whole thing is about covetousness and looking upon what someone else has and be grudging them that.
Now, another place that this comes up in the bible is with the story of the prodigal son. Basically, the inheritance is divided. The portion that belongs to the prodigal son is given unto him. He goes out and spends it up on riotous living. Of course, the elder brother who gets a double portion and still gets what's coming to him is angry because even though the younger brother was stupid and spent all his money, he ends up getting the fatted calf killed in his honor and a party for his friends and a ring on his finger, and he begrudges him that, and said, "Hey, that isn't fair. Why does he get that ring on his finger? Why are you killing the golden ..." or not the golden calf. Good night. "Why are you killing the fatted calf and partying with him? You didn't do that for me, but what did he get? Everything that was coming to him."
The father said, "Look, all that I have is dying. You're getting what's coming to you. That should be enough," but there's something wicked in the heart of men that wants to make sure that other people don't do better than us, that other people don't get more than us, and make sure that nobody else gets a bigger portion. Kids, listen up, kids. Hey, listen up, because kids need to hear this sermon also, because kids have a problem in this area sometimes with this misguided thing of, "Why did he get it? Why did she get it?" Everybody needs to hear this sermon. No talking during the service, kids.
The bible tells us here and in the story of the prodigal son, even with Jonah, where Jonah feels like, "Wait a minute. I disobeyed God, I get swallowed by a whale and I'm tortured for three days and three nights in the belly of a whale in this horrible, dark, acidic, gross environment, and then I'm vomited up on the dry land. Then I go preach to Nineveh, these people are more wicked that I've ever been.
All of a sudden, God just repent. He doesn't destroy anything, doesn't kill anybody. What's going on with that? Instead of being happy that they're spared, happy that God's merciful unto them, he doesn't think it's fair, basically.
Now, it's interesting because a lot of these things are all pointing to one of the same biblical truths. As we get into these other parables you'll see that same truth over and over again. For example, go to Matthew 21.
Now, another thing we can take from this story just before we leave Matthew 20 is that this is a great encouragement to those who got saved later in life or those who start serving God later in life. They would be like the 11th hour Christians who come in late in the game and yet God says, "There's still great reward for you. You could still be the first." In fact, you can do great things for God and still be rewarded greatly.
This same thought is continued through all three of these chapters and even beyond. Look at Matthew 21:28. It says, "But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went, and he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him."
Now, again, here's a story about somebody who enters the game late, sort of like the 11th hour people in chapter 20 because he's told, "Go into the vineyard," he doesn't go, but then later, he repents and goes and does the work. Again, he's coming in late in the game.
Look if you would at verse 33. " Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country, and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it, and the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise, but last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son, but when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance, and they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, 'He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.' Jesus saith unto them, 'Did ye never read in the scriptures? The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, and whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder,' and when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables," watch this, "they perceived that he spake of them, but when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet."
In this parable, we're given some insight into the interpretation of it when it says that the people who were the vineyard householders who did not render the fruits in their season and had to be replaced with other husbandmen that would render the fruits in their season were the Jews. Notably, the Scribes and Pharisees here, they knew that he was talking about them.
You say, "Well then why he saved the Jews? Why he didn't save the Pharisees?" Because he said, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." So it's going from one nation to another." You see, in Matthew 20 in that story, go back if you would, the parable that we first looked at about the people who came in the 11th hour.
Part of the symbolism here is between those who were God's people in the Old Testament who basically have the word of God the longest and had been with the Lord the longest grumbling and complaining against those who were the newcomers, the 11th hour group. That 11th hour group represents the Gentiles being saved and serving God in the last days, in the new testament.
We have the original group grumbling and complaining and saying, "What in the world? What's going on with these people being paid and being made equal to us? I mean, imagine that. The Gentiles are being made equal unto us. We've been serving God for thousands of years, and these people who had just shown up in the 11th hour, you've made them equal unto us." God says, "Friend, I do thee no wrong. Take that thine is, and go thy way."
See, the thing about it when you think about this, in the New Testament, God didn't really take anything away from the true believers in Christ that were of the Jews. They really lose anything? I mean, somebody who received Jesus Christ as their savior in the nation of Israel, they went from being God's chosen people in the Old Testament to being God's chosen people in the New Testament as long as they believed in Christ. I mean, they really lose anything? No.
The only people that lost something were the ones who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, the unbelievers, the unsaved. They're no longer God's chosen people in the New Testament because the nation of Israel physically is nothing special in God's sight. He has made the 11th hour believer, the Gentiles equal unto them.
Even the story of the prodigal son has the same underlying meaning where the son that's out living in a riotous party lifestyle represents the Gentiles, the heathen. The elder brother represents the Jews. They're indignant and upset when salvation is going forth unto the Gentiles, and they're receiving it, they're getting saved, they're turning onto the Lord by the droves. They don't like that.
What's interesting is that at the end of this, it says in verse 16, "So the last shall be first." We're in chapter 20 verse 16, "So the last shall be first, and the first shall be last: for many be called, but few," what? Chosen. Who are the chosen? Who are the chosen? Is it the people who were there first? Children of Israel physically serving God? No, because he said, "Those from the 11th hour made like unto them." There is difference between the Jew and the Greek. "Put on therefore as the elect of God," whether you be Jew or a Gentile, "bowels of mercies," and so forth.
We can see that there's a continuity here in these stories. These parables are all pointing toward that same doctrine, that same truth. Now, back to Matthew 21 where it says about these husbandmen that were supposed to bear fruit and they didn't bring forth the fruit. The question is asked, "What's going to be done unto these husbandmen?" Verse 40, "When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him," I mean, they're basically pronouncing their own doom here. "They say unto him, 'He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.'"
They're going to be miserably destroyed and it's going to go on to others. He says, "Therefore say I unto you," verse 43, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Now, what's interesting about this is that in chapter 21, it talks about him sending servants to rip the fruits. If you go back toward the beginning of the chapter, or not beginning of the chapter, but beginning of the story, verse 33, it says, " Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country, and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it."
Verse 35, " And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another." Now, these servants that he is sending are the prophets. Over and over again, God talks about how he would rise up early sending his servants, the prophets unto the house of Israel, sending prophets, sending prophets, sending prophets, over and over again.
These prophets were specifically sent to the house of Judah or sent specifically to the house of Israel. Some of them were rebuked and told, "Go preach somewhere else." They said, "No." For example, Amos was told, "Go to Judah." He said, "No. God told me to preach in Israel," and so he's going to preach to them. They preached the message that God wanted them to preach to the house of Israel because God kept sending prophets unto Israel and commissioning them saying, "Go and demand fruits from my people."
Then after he sent these servants that were beaten, killed and stoned, it says in verse 36, "Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise." Watch this, verse 37, I think sometimes we miss this, "But last of all," that's a key phrase right there, "Last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, 'They will reverence my son.'" Then after that, he sent more prophets and kept sending more prophets. Is that what it says?
See, people miss this stuff, but it's right there in scriptures being taught by Jesus. If you read the context of chapters 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, this all comes together. It all becomes clear. He says, "Last of all, last of all, he sent unto them his son," and that's Jesus, of course, saying, "They will reverence my son." I mean, if they're going to reverence anybody, it's going to be the son.
When the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, "This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance." They caught him, cast him out of the vineyard and slew him, because of course, if you remember, Jesus was killed outside the gate, outside Jerusalem, and he suffered without the camp. Cast him out of the vineyard and slewed him, and of course, what's he going to do when the Lord of the vineyard comes? He's going to destroy the murderers, let out the vineyard onto other husbandmen.
Now, go to Acts 13 if you would. Acts 13, because this thing of last of all, he sent ... he sent prophets to Israel, prophets to Israel, prophets to Israel. Last of all, he sent his son. If you remember, when Jesus was there on this earth for his three and a half years of ministry, he had his 12 apostles that he sent out to also preach and go before him. Then after that, he had 70 others that he ordained also and sent out two and two to go out and preach, to perform miracles, to preach the word of God.
Remember, Israel is not really a huge place. Even from Dan unto Beersheba is 144 miles. You can do a lot in three and a half years when you're working all day and working hard. The bible's real clear that Jesus work hard. He went about doing good to the point where people were constantly begging him, "Take a break. Relax. You're nuts," and saying, "You're beside yourself," which would be like saying, "You're nuts."
The disciples were working hard. They said, "We've forsaken all and followed you." They didn't have a day job. They worked for Jesus Christ. This is what they did. This was their life, just full time. They went throughout all the towns and villages, all the cities and villages. I mean, physically showing up at the door of every town and village and city, physically showing up and going to every single one of them.
Not only that, but also the fame of him went throughout the whole region. Then they physically went there, either the apostles or Jesus. They're preaching the word of God. They're performing great miracles. I mean, these people are given every possible chance to be saved, and many of them did get saved. Of course, most of them didn't get saved, but they're given every possible chance.
Jesus even tells them when he sends them out in Matthew 10. He says unto them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He's telling them, "We're concentrating all of our efforts for three and a half years. We're going to every city, every town, every village, every person. We are going to get the gospel to every single person in Israel," and that's what they did.
In the end, of course, Jesus Christ is crucified. Then he dies, he's buried and then three days later, he rises again from the dead. After he rises again from the dead, he shows himself alive by many infallible proofs. He shows them the holes in his hands, the holes in his side. He eats and drinks among them. They handled him and touched him to see that it was not a spirit. He ate fish, he ate the honeycomb. He's constantly asking for food, just to demonstrate the bodily, physical nature of his resurrection.
In the end, right before he ascends up to the Father in heaven, he says, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations." So the commission is changed from Matthew 10, "Don't go in the way of the Gentiles. Don't go to any city of the Samaritans." It's changed in Matthew 28 to "Go teach all nations." He says in Acts 1:8, "You shall be witnesses unto me. Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
He even tells them, "Tarry ye at Jerusalem," this is after he rose from the dead but before Pentecost, "Tarry ye here at Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high." What are they supposed to do after they're endued with power from on high? They're supposed to go teach all nations. They weren't supposed to just stay in Jerusalem. He didn't just say, "Stay in Jerusalem and just keep soul-winning in Jerusalem and just never stop preaching in Jerusalem." Is that the commission that he gave to his disciples? No. He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." That's what he told them.
Very, isn't that a pretty clear instruction? "Go into all the world and preach the gospel. Go teach all nations." Look, were they being sent by Jesus, the resurrected Christ, were they being sent? "Hey, go to all the towns in Israel again." No, because he said, "Look, last of all, he sent a bunch of prophets to Israel, and last of all, he sent to them his son." Then he said, "The kingdom of God is taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
He told them, "Look, go into all nations. Go to all the world. You'll be witnesses unto me in Samaria." He said, "You'll be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." That commission was specifically given to those 11 men that gathered with him at the Mount of Olives: Peter, James, John, all those 11 disciples besides Judas Iscariot were specifically given that commission.
Now, obviously, we know that that is a broader commission on to all believers. We're not so foolish as to say, "Hey, that was just for them." No. Obviously, God wants us also to preach the gospel, and carry that commission into all nations including the United States of America. It was specifically given to those 11 men. I mean, point blank, face-to-face, he's telling them, "You guys need to go and teach all nations. You need to go and preach the gospel to every creature." The question is, is that what they did?
The answer is no. That's not what we see them doing in the Book of Acts, because after that great day of Pentecost, what do we see them doing? Hanging out in Jerusalem. They're getting arrested, they're getting thrown in prison, keep preaching in Jerusalem, arrested again, keep preaching in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, years later still in Jerusalem. Is that what God told them to do? No.
In fact, God sent a great persecution on the church in Jerusalem. As a result of that great persecution, the bible says, "Then they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching." God had to send, if you read the Book of Acts, God had to send persecution in order to just get them off their rear ends and out of Jerusalem to go into the uttermost part of the earth with the gospel, because they're just stuck on this thing of just reaching Jerusalem.
A lot of people miss this because they don't differentiate between the clear commands of Jesus and what people actually did. See, there's a great gap between what God tells us to do and what we actually do in our lives, right, in our own personal lives. Do we do exactly what God tells us to do? No, and the apostles were no different.
There's no question when you look at the words of Jesus as he specifically gives them instruction. There's no question what the mission is. There's no question what he expects them to do. Then when you look at what they actually did, they're not getting it done. Then of course, God ends up using the apostle Paul to do a lot of the work and to go to a lot of the distant places.
As you study the Book of Acts, you'll see God's constantly trying to get those original apostles to go preach to other nations because for example with Peter. He's grabbing Peter in a vision and saying, "Look, you need to go give the gospel to this Italian guy." He's trying to get him to that centurion in Acts 10 and 11, that story. He's trying to get a hold of Peter saying, "Look, what God hath cleansed, that call not thou common or unclean. You need to stop staying away from the Gentiles. You need to go talk to them. You need to go preach them."
When we see the clear command of Christ, and then when we see God's working in the Book of Acts, it's all pointing toward a message of they need to go out and reach everybody. Now, there's a false doctrine out there where basically, people will teach, and this is part of dispensationalism. They'll teach, "Well, Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles. He's our apostle. He's our apostle. He's the apostle of the Gentiles. Whereas Peter, James, John, all the rest, all 11 of them, all those 11 guys, they were sent under the circumcision." That's what they'll teach. Hold on. Is that what the great commission tells us?
Now, let's look at this in scripture. Look at Acts 13:44 first of all. This is where we see some stories about Paul. This is the apostle Paul who did great things for God and he under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost said, "I labored more abundantly than they all." He actually did more for God than Peter, James and John. He labored more abundantly than they all. That's why you get to a point in the Book of Acts where it becomes all about the apostle Paul.
Then you notice most of the New Testament ends up being written by the apostle Paul. You know why? Because he obeyed Christ and took the gospel to all nations like he was told to. Look what it says in Acts 13:44. " And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God, but when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, 'I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.'"
Look, that statement on verse 47, that wasn't a statement made directly to the apostle Paul. He didn't say, "I have set thee a light for the Gentiles, Paul." No, he's saying that unto all believers. He's saying that unto the people of God in general. The difference between Paul and some of the other apostles is that Paul is actually obeying this right away.
Some of them didn't obey it until later, but they were all commanded it from the beginning at the Mount of Olives. It says in verse 48, "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Go to chapter 18 verse five. Chapter 18 verse five says this, "And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ, and when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."
Look at Acts 28, Acts 28:25. So far, we've seen this in chapter 13, we've seen it in chapter 18. Look at Acts 28:25, " And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers saying, 'Go unto this people, and say, hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it,' and when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves."
Now, if you would, flip over to Galatians 2 because this is the scripture that these dispensationals will point to to try to say, "Hey, Paul, he's our apostle." All the other apostles were sent unto the Jews. Let me ask this, when did Christ send them to the Jews? Only before he died on the cross.
When did he say to them after he was resurrected? "Hey, you know what, you guys? I'm going to go get this other guy. I'm going to go find another guy later and send him to the uttermost part of the earth. I'm going to find another guy and he's going to go teach all nations. His name is Paul, but right now his name is Saul, but later, I'm going to go get that other guy and say ..." No, he said, "You guys are going to go teach all nations. You're going to go preach the gospel to every ... You're going to go into all the world."
Now, look. Just because they didn't do that doesn't mean that that's not what God told them to do. Repeatedly, clearly at the end of the gospels and at the beginning of Acts, it's crystal clear that that was the mission. These parables make it clear that that was the mission to take the gospel into all nations unto all people.
Those who are dispensational will point to this story in Galatians 2 and just use this to just negate all that. What happens is the bible says in verse one of chapter two, "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also, and I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain, but neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you, but of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person)." It seemed like Paul is super duper impressed here with these people? He says, "God accepts no man's person for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me." It's like when you go to this preaching conference and you're not really that impressed and nothing's really added unto you.
He says, "But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me," watch this, "as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
Hey, that sounds pretty good, right? We're going to stay here when we like it, where we're comfortable. We're going to stay here in Jerusalem and talk a circumcision. You know what? You guys are going to go to the Gentiles. That sounds great. Hey, because when they saw, they saw, "Oh, look! Paul's a mighty apostle unto the uncircumcision just like we're doing great works here at the circumcision."
Look, that's how they saw it. That wasn't God's original intent. Look at the bible. How can you say that that was God's plan? Yup, it was God's plan for Peter, James and John to stay in Jerusalem and be pillars there, and to just send everybody else to the world and to the nations and preach. No. See, they were all supposed to be preaching to the Gentiles. That was the directive that they were all given.
Yet, people will just take this one passage here where it says, "When they saw ..." Look what it says in your bible there, "When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision," there's only one gospel. There's one gospel that saves everybody. There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek. There's no difference between the uncircumcision and the circumcision.
What's funny is that this passage is taken so out of context because a few verses later, Peter is about to get rebuked. So they'll take this. See, right there. Yeah, you know what? If these were the only verse in the bible, yeah, I'd agree with you. What about when you put it next to Matthew and Mark and Luke and John and Acts where they're being sent to go to all nations, those 11 men specifically are being told to preach to everybody?
Look what it says right after this and people failed to put these two things together that he said, "Well, you know, they saw that we were doing great things for God and they're doing great things for God, so they sent us. They sent us to the Gentiles."
Here's the thing. We know that God does have a permissive will. God has a perfect will, and then he has a permissive will. Basically, God has a plan and a will, and when we fail to do his plan, he comes up with a plan B for our lives. He doesn't just throw us in the trash.
The true story here is that they're told, "Hey, go teach all nations. Go preach to the Gentiles." They don't do it. God still used them. God still allowed them to do mighty works, and he keep bugging them about, "Hey, go talk to this Italian guy." He's grabbing their deacon and saying, "Hey, go talk to this Ethiopian guy. Nobody's talking to this Ethiopian guy." He's got to grab them and send them there and take them there and, "Look, talk to this guy," because they were just so stuck on this thing of "We got to reach our nation of Israel." They were stuck on that.
Obviously, that doesn't mean God's not going to work in their lives and use them to reach Israelites and get Israelites saved, and even work in their lives to get Gentiles saved, but they're not following God's perfect plan. They're not perfect people, but they're disobeying a very clear directive here. That's part of the reason why they kept getting persecuted.
Then later, we even see compromise entering in and everything because they're trying to just hang out in Jerusalem and then they're trying to get along with people to the point where they're doing animal sacrifices and all these stupid stuff that the Hebrew roots people will try to hold up as a wonderful example. No, that's not what they were told to do. They were supposed to get out of there and go reach the world with the gospel.
Now, we don't know. Hopefully, some of the other 11 that's what they were doing. Peter, James and John seemed to have been hanging out a lot in Jerusalem. The good news is that later, many decades later when the books of first and second Peter are being written, at least Peter says, "Hey, the church at Babylon salutes you," which I believe is a reference to Rome in that scripture. That would show that at least Peter, even if you disagree about the location of Babylon, at least that shows that he got out of Jerusalem and actually went somewhere else and was preaching the gospel.
The reason I say Babylon is Rome is because of the Book of Daniel, and that's a whole another sermon of itself. Anyway, what we see here, let's keep reading in Galatians 2. It says, "You know what? They saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me." Verse nine says at the end, "That we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." "All right. You got a deal." That's not what God told them but okay.
" Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do, but when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." Look, is this just showing, "Hey, we just all came to this wonderful agreement that they're just really into reaching Jews and we're into reaching Gentiles and that's just fine and dandy and hunky-dory. No. It says, "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles, but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision."
Now, is James right with God here? Is Peter right with God? No. James is surrounding himself with a bunch of Judaiser type people, and we see this in Acts 15 also. We see this later in the Book of Acts when he's telling Paul, "Hey, shave your head and do this Nazarite thing. Go offer a sacrifice." This is junk. This is not the James of the 12 disciples though. This is the James that is the half-brother of Jesus.
It doesn't mean James is a horrible guy, but James is wrong here, and Peter's wrong because Peter because he's been hanging around with this group around James, he gets messed up because it says that he was eating with the Gentiles but when they are come from James, look at verse 12 halfway through, "He withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision." We're only suppose to fear God. Why is he fearing them that are of the circumcision?
Look, he withstood Peter to his face. It doesn't matter that ... Peter was one of the magical 12 disciples. No, he's a human being, and he did wrong, and Peter rebuked him because he needed to be rebuked. It says verse 13, "The other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation."
Even Barnabas is into this junk now. "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, 'If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.'"
He's saying, "Look, what in the world is wrong with you, Peter? You don't even follow all this Jewish stuff. You know we're in the New Testament. You're living like a Gentile but you're pretending to live like a Jew in front of these people." What are they doing? They're breaking up the unity because they're supposed to be one fold, one shepherd, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We're supposed to have unity in Christ, and they're breaking up the unity by saying, "Oh, we're not going to eat with the Gentiles. We're going to segregate."
Look, they're supposed to all be breaking bread and enjoying fellowship together and eating a meal with people. Many cultures throughout the world do this where they refuse to eat with people of another nation. Remember, this is what the Egyptians did to the Israelites in the Book of Genesis where they said, "Oh, it's an abomination for us to eat with the Israelites." Then the Israelites, "Oh, it's an abomination for us to eat with the Gentiles." I mean, there are all kinds of other nationalities that do the same thing even to this day, and it's not right.
God is showing here where Paul had to rebuke these people for not walking uprightly and for getting hung up on the circumcision/non-circumcision, Jew-Gentile thing. Verse one of chapter two, "Fourteen years after," I mean, this is not like a year after Jesus rose from the dead here. This is 14 years after and if you back up, it says in verse number 17 of chapter one, "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days."
Basically, the apostle Paul gets saved, then three years go by, then 14 years go by. This is somewhere in the neighborhood, in the ballpark of 20 years after that great commission is given, and these guys are still hung up on that, almost 20 years later. I mean, that's the reality of the story that we see in scripture.
Go back if you would to Matthew 22. Matthew 22. See, one of the most common mistakes that people make when they interpret the bible is they look at what people did, they look at the status quo and say, "Well, that's how God ordained," or 'That's what God wanted," or "That's what God told them to do." When in reality, there's often a difference between what people are told to do and what they did.
Christ commands were crystal clear. I mean, it's case closed. Teach all nations, case closed. Go into all the world, case closed. You be witnesses unto me unto the uttermost parts of the earth. It's simple. It's clear. Hey, last of all, unto that nation of Israel, he sent his son. After the son was killed, what does he say? "Go to all the world. Go everywhere."
Now, you say, "Well, wait a minute. Are you saying that no one should go and preach the gospel onto Israel?" Here's the thing. The reason why it was last of all he sent his son because after that, their nation got destroyed and no longer even existed. I mean, that's what it took finally. God wiped them out eventually to the point where it was illegal for a single Jew to set one foot in Jerusalem. After 135 AD, there was no Jew allowed in Jerusalem, illegal because the Romans scattered them everywhere, destroyed their nation, burned down their city, et cetera.
Go to Matthew 22:1. The bible reads, "And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 'The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.'
Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage,' but they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them."
Now, does this sound familiar, killing the servants that are sent to them? The same parable in chapter 20, 21, 22, the same point keeps being driven in by Jesus here. It says, "When the king heard thereof, he was wroth." He's angry. He sign and invite them to the wedding for his son. He's inviting them to come to Christ. They killed the servants, they beat them, they treat them spitefully.
Look at this. It says in verse seven, "When the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers," which is exactly the wording used in chapter 21, "He'll miserably destroy those murderers," but notice what else it says here, "and burned up their city." This happened in AD 70 when Jerusalem was burned.
This is the prophecy because people have often asked, "Well, where did Jesus ever prophesy that Jerusalem was going to be burned and that they were going to be ... as a result of rejecting him?" Isn't this a result of rejecting the invitation to come unto the son and his wedding? He says that he sent forth his armies, that's the Roman legion, destroyed those murderers and burned up the city. See, well, how could the Roman army be God's armies? Because God sends all kinds of ... He sent the Babylonian army. Whatever army he's sending is doing his will, whether they're good or bad people or righteous people. He still uses his armies to do his will.
It says, "The remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them, but when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city." Verse eight, "Then saith he to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.'"
Now, who were the ones who were originally invited to come to Christ for three and a half years? The Israelites were originally invited. He says to them that they were not worthy. Now, that's just like what it says, "You don't have to turn there again." Remember when we were in Acts 13 where Paul kept saying, "We're going to the Gentiles." Listen to this one. Acts 13:46, "But seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles."
What's he saying to the Jews there? "You've judged yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, so we're going to the Gentiles." What is said here of these who rejected the invitation to the wedding of the son? It says they were not worthy or saved. You think that's a coincidence? They're unworthy.
Verse nine, "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found," and I love this next phrase, one of my favorite phrases in the whole bible, "both bad and good."
Isn't it great that both bad and good are invited to be saved? He says, look, "Bad or good, you could be saved. You can come. You're invited just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come." Bad or good. "Hey, why you're going to heaven?" "Because I'm a good person." No, he'll invite bad and good to be saved.
Look what it says about the bad and good. The wedding is furnished with guests. Just all people are invited, whoever responds by faith to the invitation. "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment." Now, does it say he saw one of those bad ones, it's one of those bad people? No, no, no. There were all kinds of good and bad people. Everybody's invited.
The problem here isn't that this guy is good or bad. The problem is he doesn't have a wedding garment on. "And he saith unto him, 'Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?'" He's saying, "You know, there must be some mistake. How did you get in here dressed like that, buddy?" It's like when you go to a fancy restaurant, they make you the wear the house coat or house tie. "Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" He was like ... He's speechless. He doesn't know what to say, embarrassed.
Don't you hate it when you're at a wedding and somebody comes up to you and says that? It says in verse 13, "Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen."
Why is the word "chosen" keep being associated with the people who are saved? Because of the fact that when the bible use the word "elect", it's talking about the saved, that's why, every time. Chosen is synonymous with elect. So yeah, in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was the chosen people but anybody who doesn't believe Christ is not chosen.
Look, this guy who didn't have the wedding garment, is the chosen people? Think about it. He says, "Look. This guy is cast to outer darkness. Many are called, few are chosen." Look. Is that guy chosen? No. What makes him not chosen? The fact that he's damned. That's enough to make him not be the chosen because the chosen are the ones who are saved, the ones who made it to the wedding, the ones who received the kingdom of God, and so on and so forth.
Again, in this parable, we see the same thing. The people who are originally invited, the nation of Israel because they make excuse, they don't come, they killed the servants, they killed the son of God himself, he ends up reaching out to others and furnishing the guests with everyone else, because of the fact that they to whom it was first given were not worthy.
How does this apply unto us? First of all, this is important doctrine. Everything that we just went over tonight is very important doctrinally. It help us to put things together from the gospels, from Acts, from Galatians. It's important teaching of God's words and understand God's word, and understand the difference between clear commands, clear statements, clear directives, and what actually happened, and the way the apostles saw it where Paul, he's the apostle to the Gentiles. No, everybody is supposed to be apostles to the Gentiles. They just weren't listening.
Besides the important doctrines that we see here in the clear scriptures that lay that teaching out, when we think about this in our own lives, we need to understand that God wants us to get everybody that we can saved. I think we're making a big mistake. I think anybody's making a mistake where they want to specialize in reaching a certain demographic and just say, "Hey, we're just trying to reach this one group."
This thing of "Hey, we're just going to go reach the Jews," or "Hey, we're just going to go reach this certain type of people, just the really poor people." Now, I'm all for focusing on the poor and spending most of our soul-winning efforts on the poor, but we should never get [inaudible 00:55:08], "Let's just reach the poor," or "Let's just reach a certain nationality," or "Let's just reach a certain demographic," or "God's calling us to a certain group."
Now, obviously, we can't be everywhere at one, but I don't think that there would have been anything wrong in the world with Peter going and setting up shop in some other nation and preaching there and going all over and focusing on that nation, because look, there are 11 apostles to go around. They could have gone to different places and done that. Unfortunately, it didn't really play out that way.
It's sad. It's sad that they just kept beating their heads against the wall in Jerusalem, just, "Why won't these people listen? I don't get it. They don't ... Why won't they listen?" Instead of being like Paul and saying, "If they won't listen, we'll go somewhere else."
For example, there was a missionary to Germany a while back. This missionary to Germany, he realized that the German people are often very unreceptive of the gospel. Now, there are obviously, many that are saved and some people will listen, but by enlarge, it's a very cold place to the gospel. It's a very unreceptive place. Certain places are like that, even around Phoenix. We could go to a certain neighborhood where it would be very cold and unreceptive. Another place where people are getting saved left and right.
When he went to Germany, it was very cold and unreceptive amongst the German people which is very sad, but that's the way it is. It doesn't mean you can't get people saved because you can. I've been soul-winning over there and I've gotten people saved door-to-door, soul-winning but it's not easy. Then again, nothing's easy.
Here's the thing. This guy, this missionary, he started just realizing that there were all these refugees from other countries living in Germany and all these poor people in these big giant high-rises and they were people from all over the world, people from Asia, people from just all different places, Africa, all kinds of refugees. He started winning a whole bunch of these people to the Lord. He was getting literally thousands of people saved.
He was preaching a ton of people, but they weren't Germans. You know what I mean? He's preaching all these foreigners and poor immigrants and refugees with the gospel. Some people would criticize that. They're sitting back accomplishing very little, almost nothing and then they say this, "Well, God sent me here to reach Germans."
I don't know what this guy is doing, whatever God is calling, "But God sent me here to reach Germans." They're just like trying to get people saved that are unreceptive. Here's the thing. God didn't send you there. God sent you there to reach everybody that's there.
I'm not saying to ignore the Germans but you know what? Don't just pass over them. "Oh, you're not Germans. You're not White people," or "You're not wearing Lederhosen," or whatever, "You're not German enough. I'm going to go to these ..." Look, it doesn't matter, folks. That's why we in Phoenix, Arizona should have a desire to reach everybody, and not just specialize in a certain group.
We should want to reach the poor. We should want to reach the people who are more middle class or well to do. We should want to reach the White people, the Black people, the Mexicans, the Chinese. We should want to reach everybody that we possibly can. Obviously, there's a language barrier in many cases, but anybody that we can talk to, anybody that we can speak English to and preach to.
If that's the only language we speak, then that's who God's calling us to reach everybody. It should be open to everybody, and we should try to get the gospel to every single person we possibly can, and not get this attitude of saying, "Well, if we could get these certain people saved, wouldn't that be great? If we could get a really rich guy saved, that would be a great accomplishment. Maybe we get some celebrity saved, wouldn't that be great? Then he could be great spokesman for the gospel," or "Man, if we could just reach this group or that group ..."
No, no, no. We just want to reach everybody. We don't care. We don't care what color they are. We don't care how much money they have. It's just about winning souls every creature, all nations, everybody. That's the goal. Not only that though, but we should have a desire to see people sent out to other places. Obviously, our nation, the United States of America needs great churches because of the fact that there are so many places where the existing churches are letting us down in the sense that they're not doing anything as far as aggressively winning souls or preaching hard on sin.
I don't think there's anything in the world wrong with people starting churches in America and being sent all over America out of this church. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." There could be some people even amongst us who God's working in your heart of saying, "You know what? Maybe I could be used to start a church somebody, to pastor a church somebody, to do this in a distant city or even a distant country."
The mentality could always be there just to stay comfortable at Jerusalem. Think about that. Just being comfortable. I mean, we love Arizona. I mean, and look, let's face it. Arizona is the coolest place to live, that's why I chose to start a church here. Sorry, it's taken. No, I'm just kidding.
I chose to start a church here because it's in my opinion, I don't want to say the coolest place because it's not very cool, it's kind of hot, but I love it here. I think it's beautiful. I think it's amazing, but you know what? Some people are going to need to leave this Jerusalem and they're going to need to go to Samaria, also known as California. They're going to need to go to Samaria, and they're going to need to go beyond that even unto the uttermost part of the earth.
We need to be challenged in our minds to reach everybody around us, every person, even people that we may be don't like or whatever in the flesh. I don't feel that way but some people feel that way where they don't like certain kinds of people. I tried to be open-minded about all nationalities. I see pass that. I don't really care about that.
Not only that, we need to also have some men that would be willing to leave Jerusalem and to go somewhere else, and to live their little group of buddies where they're all just pillars and hanging out and everything, and get out there and go into the uttermost part of the earth like Christ told us to do because that commission still applies to us today. That could be the uttermost parts of America and even beyond.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your word, Lord, and we thank you that the gospel has reached unto us, Lord. We're not in Jerusalem. We're not in Israel, Lord. Thank you that the gospel through the apostle Paul and others reached throughout Europe and throughout other parts of the world, Africa, Asia, and reached our ancestors and even reached the new world through men who were willing to travel across the ocean and bring the gospel unto America, and then to bring it West into California and Arizona, and these different places, Lord.
Please just help us, Lord to love souls and to love the red and yellow, black and white and to also be willing to move. If it's God's will for us to move and go somewhere else, Lord, then help those that have that calling on their life to respond to that and not to just get at ease in Zion and comfortable in Jerusalem. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.