The One Year New Testament

February 20

Matthew 20:17-34

Matthew 20:17-34

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.


At this point in their discipleship, the two “sons of Zebedee” (James and John; Matt. 4:21), their mother, and the rest of Jesus’ disciples were still highly influenced by the values of the unbelieving world (20:20–21, 25). They did not understand that positions of leadership in God’s kingdom belong to those who are willing to be despised and even persecuted (vv. 22–23), and are willing to lead by serving others rather than being served (vv. 26–28; see also 23:11).

Believers serve and forgive one another not to earn prestige or God’s favor for themselves, but because they have experienced God’s selfless love and forgiveness in Christ Jesus (20:28). God’s compassionate character is clear in the Old Testament (Ex. 2:23–25; 34:6–7; Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:1–14; Joel 2:12–14; Jonah 4:2) but is supremely seen in the life, teachings, and ministry of Jesus (Phil. 2:1–11; see also Gal. 6:2–3; Eph. 4:32–5:2; Col. 2:13).

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”


Beneath the Corinthians’ favoritism and quarreling (see 1 Cor. 1:11–12) is an obsession with worldly beauty and power. The church is putting its confidence in human wisdom and strength. But the gospel teaches us to put our confidence “in the Lord” (v. 31), and particularly in “Christ crucified,” who is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (vv. 23–24). We must rely not on human accomplishment but on the accomplishment of Christ. He has become our “righteousness” (giving us right standing with God), our “sanctification” (cleansing us from the impurity of disobedience), and our “redemption” (liberating us from bondage to sin) (v. 30). To access God’s transforming power, believers therefore should not rely on worldly measures of success (vv. 26–28); instead, we need to keep “the word of the cross” (the gospel) at the heart of our faith and practice (1:17–18).

Psalm 28:7

Psalm 28:7

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

Thoughts For Prayer

What “strong” and “wise” things in this world are you most tempted to put your confidence in? Ask God to reinforce your conviction that Jesus is a more certain source of security and wisdom than these.

Missions Prayer Requests More

  • February 20, 2019

    Supported Workers: The Women's Clinic of Cleveland (formerly Alternaterm)

    Country: United States of America

    Pray for the right person to fill the open position of Office Manager. Pray for a donor to fund their EWYL online parenting program with new spiritual applications to each lesson - $79 monthly. Pray for their new staff members- Sonographer and Nurse Care Coordinator as they learn their new positions. Pray for staff who are dealing with family issues

    Czech Republic (Europe). Czech Protestants must both reclaim their heritage and demonstrate new life. There is now freedom but also spiritual decline; pray for evangelicals. Determined, deliberate, and loving outreach and evangelism are necessities, as is the prayer that must precede them.