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 asks the religious leaders which son did his father’s will, and they answer correctly. They can understand what He teaches but they refuse to accept it. For this reason He tells them “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (v. 31).
Jesus knows when people haven’t heard His teaching or when they truly do not understand, but this is not the case with the priests and elders in this lesson. The prophet Jeremiah had warned Israel against this years before, saying “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear” ( Jeremiah 5:21). Knowing the truth but failing to accept it is a sin of pride, placing our “knowledge” above the word of God.
Jesus told us we would hear hard lessons and be called to do difficult things for His kingdom. Rejecting these because we value earthly things puts us in direct opposition with what He teaches. We have heard the truth and He calls us to joyful obedience.
Loving Lord, we need Your guidance every day. Be with us as we go into the world to do Your will. Amen.