Monday, September 19, 2011

Who did the Father's will? Matthew 21:23-32

Imagine the scene
Jesus in the temple in Matthew 21:23. He was in the place that symbolized the very heart of Israel's religious life. Some there in the temple wanted to hear him teach and others were questioning him, doubting him maybe even hoping to trap him so that they could have their way over him. The religious leaders asked,

By what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority? Matthew 21b NRSV
Jesus answered with a question of his own,
Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” Matthew 21:24-25 NRSV
The question stung the religious leaders who doubted Jesus. The crowds loved Jesus and John before him. They believed in John and now in Jesus. And Jesus turned the question back to them Matthew 21:25-27.
Now Jesus made his point in story about two sons in Matthew 21:28-30. Both sons were asked by their father to go and work in the vineyard. One son said no and changed his mind doing as his father asked. The other son agreed but ended up not doing the job.
Jesus asked them in Matthew 21:31, "Who did the father's will?" The answers obvious, the first one, the one who did it. Jesus said yes that's right and then he spoke to them a word of judgement and promise in Matthew 21:31-32. It was word of judgement for the religious and a promise for the sinners, the prostitutes and tax collectors, would enter into the kingdom before them.
Jesus didn't say they were out of the kingdom or out of God's reach, but he told them that Good News had come for those they considered beyond God's reach. Good News has come for those who had turned their backs on God and then returned to His will.

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