Yes or no, there is no maybe

The Pharisees were at it again. Matthew 21 tells of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, hailed as a hero! The crowds were going wild with excitement, and the Pharisees were wild with jealousy. They approached Jesus as He was preaching. What authority do You have to teach? they asked in the most formal, interrogative way. They were the leaders of Israel, after all!

I think Jesus might have rolled His eyes. Guys, was John the Baptist from men or from God? They could not answer, too afraid of the people to express their doubts. Jesus would not answer their question on authority directly, but this is the parable that He told next:

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”

Of course God was not happy that the tax collectors were cheating, and heartbroken at the sin. But what was their heart response when they were confronted with their sin? Pride is no better than prostitution when it comes to rebelling against God. And I forget that so quickly.

Jesus wove another lesson into the mix through the parable of the master letting out his vineyard to tenants who tried to take the vineyard for themselves. The Pharisees pronounced the doom – they should be thrown out and destroyed, with the vineyard given to someone else. Yes, Jesus agreed. And they realized that He was talking about them. But did they change?

These are stories that contain such hope, and such a warning at the same time. God cares for the least people who we may see as the most sinful. And He seeks them in their sin. Our sin is no less deadly. And if we are born-again Christians dedicated to serving God, our lives should be changing to reflect Him. And there is much that He must clean out of us to fully display His glory.

So which son are you? Which am I? God, please teach me to obey, to seek Your ways, and to trust You. And please help me to see the people who need You and not judge on social status. To Your glory, Amen.


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