Our scripture this week is Matthew 21:21-32.
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 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.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 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. 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.”
Jesus was unhappy with the religious leaders who questioned His authority but He would have discussed with them if they were honestly seeking an answer. Their pettiness and political maneuvering certainly saddened Him. They were debating not to gain knowledge but to gain an advantage.
I’m sure it saddens Jesus to see us still engaged in this behavior with each other. Sometimes we must raise our voices to be heard but we are called to treat each other with respect. We must not attack others personally, we must listen to understand and we must not let the actions of others distract us from our kingdom goals.
God wants us to love one another even when we disagree – especially when we disagree. It is easy to love each other when things go well. Our commitment to God and following His commandments are often shown best in how we treat His people in troubled times.
Gracious God, we are quick to anger and slow to learn. Help us to hear each other’s concerns and respond with Your love and compassion. Amen.