Jesus is often challenged by the Pharisees, the religious authorities of the time, in the Temple at Jerusalem. In earlier conversations they try to trick Him but are defeated by Jesus using their own logic. In this conversation Jesus tells them their true position in the kingdom of heaven. Of course, they are angered. Let’s look at this conversation as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 21:29-32. We often call this the “The Parable of the Two Sons”
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. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, 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.
So, let’s look at what Jesus is saying in all this. It may seem a little confusing. First, we must remember that John the baptist was sent out by God to prepare the way for for Jesus.
Matthew 3:2-3 [John the Babptist is speaking]
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Second, we must remember that Jesus is talking to the Pharisees…the religous authorities of the day. The first son represents the sinners who reject God’s call, but who finally repent and obey. The second son represents those who accept God’s call early on (the Pharisees) but who do not obey the intent of the message….who refused to heed the call of John the Baptist. They reject the call to obedience. It is dangerous to pretend to obey God when our hearts are far from him, because God knows our true intentions. Our actions must match our words.
I would note also here as we look at this parable….that it is the father that sends the sons out……and not the other way around. God always takes the initiative in His relationship with us. It is what we say and do in response to what God has said and done in our lives that is important.
The Pharisees answer Jesus question correctly……then drives the message home! He starts with “I tell you the truth” this indicates that He is about to reveal a solemn truth. And Jesus lays it on the line….those that answer God’s call but whom do not live by His intent…….loving others, living peaceably, helping others in need, repenting of their sin and following God…..those who do not see that Jesus is the promised Messiah……..they will enter the kingdom AFTER these repentant sinners!
Let me share a conversation that took place in some time ago last post with a member of the Jehovah’s Witness organization (I know for a fact that not all JW’s believe this way as I have a close friend who is a witness): I asked this person, “I would be very interested to know what you believe Jesus is telling us in Matthew 25:37-46?” Listen to their answer:
“He wasn’t talking about crack-heads, thieves, prostitutes or any other low-life. He was talking about his followers, his “spiritual brothers”. Jehovah does not concern Himself with low-life who ignore Him. He takes an interest in the ones who are willing to follow Him: (Matthew 6:25-26) People naturally think that all of us are important to God no matter what we do. If that were really true then there would not be such famine, pestilence and destruction in the world! It is up to us to be “more valuable than they”. The ones who make it a point to be valueless are destined for destruction, not prosperity, and it shows. “
Additionally this person wrote:
“While it is commendable that we should care for the sick, homeless and hungry, that is not what Jesus told us to do now. If we spent our resources on caring for people and their limitless problems we would miss out on the work that is so important now, work that is leading to the end of all this misery: (Matthew 10:7-8)”.
I usually do not quote someone in this way, however, this twisted theology must be exposed. We were called by Jesus to love those around us, to seek out the sinner and to share the message of the kingdom. NOT to consider ourselves ABOVE others….for we all are sinners (including my friend) and have received grace that we do not deserve from God. God DOES concern Himself with “low-life who ignore Him”……we are sent out to share the message with them….that they might repent and see God’s love…..that they might accept Christ as their Savior.
Today’s CLUE: Jesus tells us that those who reject God’s message but who come to repentance will enter the kingdom ahead of the pious self-righteous who hear Jesus’ message but who do not obey, thinking themselves above others.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?