March 24, 2022 – Thursday
Matthew 21:31-32 NIV
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The above are Jesus’ concluding remarks to a question He had posed after being interrupted while teaching in the temple in Jerusalem (v23). Even though all those He had been teaching could hear His question and His concluding remarks, the whole was directed to the chief priests and elders who had interrupted Him.
He posed the following parable to them, 28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Jesus followed up with a question that was verbal tray for the chief priests and elders. Jesus asked, Which of the two did what his father wanted? Then without thinking they gave their answer, The first, probably thinking what a silly question while basking in their arrogant pride.
It did not last long as Jesus told them, Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. I can only imagine how they flushed with anger and embarrassment as Jesus continued, For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
What was Jesus doing/saying? He was rebuking the Jewish leaders, the chief priests and elders, for their obvious hypocrisy. Note the first son disobeyed by refusing, but later decided to obey – this refers to sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes – John’s call of repentance of sins. What about the other son who said he would obey, but did not? He was like the leaders of Israel who had all the outward trappings of obedience but failed to show real obedience from the heart.
This is very reminiscent of the parable in Luke18:9-14 (pay attention to whom Jesus addressed this parable), 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Which brings to mind this story from Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23, 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ These men were not doing the will of God, of Jesus’ Father, so their good works which were meant only for their own aggrandizement meant nothing to Jesus.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for letting us know it is always better to come Home late than to never come home. And further, it is best to do God’s will for the purpose of doing God’s will, not puffing oneself up. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton