Sunday, November 21, 2010

Entering the Kingdom

Matthew 21:31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

31 τίς ἐκ τῶν δύο ἐποίησεν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός; λέγουσιν· ὁ πρῶτος. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 32  ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάννης πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης, καὶ οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ, οἱ δὲ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐπίστευσαν αὐτῷ· ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰδόντες οὐδὲ μετεμελήθητε ὕστερον τοῦ πιστεῦσαι αὐτῷ.

This is the conclusion to a parable that I always find compelling.  Jesus is trying to make an illustration to the Pharisees about grace.  He tells them about two sons whose father owns a vineyard.  The father asks the first to work in the vineyard.  He initially refuses, but later changes his mind.  The second one initially says that he will, but then never does it.  Here is Jesus' conclusion.

The application of this for today should be obvious, but of course the blindness of the Pharisees afflicts us all to some degree.  I think that you can mesh this parable with that of the four soils.  How eager we can be when we first hear a teaching or a command!  But then what do we do with it?  Do we apply it and obey it?  Or do we ignore it?

Of course, whenever I read a parable I like to cast myself as one of the "good guys," meaning one of those who are painted in a good light.  But I know that is not always so.  It is much easier for me to read Scripture with an academic or even pastoral eye than a devotional one, particularly the gospels.  Yet here is where God uses His Word to transform us.  My prayer is that I would be broken and obedient.  May I never be one of those people who gives verbal assent, but puts no hands or feet to the application.

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