Google+ 03/12/13 I am a Publican and Proud of It!

Matthew 21:28-32

 

“But what do you think about this?

A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’

The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway.

Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.

“Which of the two obeyed his father?”  They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning:

“I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.

For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live,

But you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did.

And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins. 

 

The Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus's day had no answers to this parable.  As Jesus came into the Temple and began to teach, the chief priests and the elders questioned His authority.  After all, they had not given Jesus permission to teach in the Temple.  He was not acting on their authority.  Jesus answers them with a question, which the chief priests and the elders decide not to answer.  As a result, Jesus tells them a story, rather than answer their question.  Unfortunately, we are often guilty of the trespasses of the chief priests and the elders.  We see Jesus clearly and hear His message.  Rather than answer His questions directly, we remain silent.  Why?  The reason is simple.  The answer that we know is correct, makes us look foolish, because our behavior IS foolish.  As a result, we remain silent on many issues where our speaking and answering is critical.  Not so many months ago, I was reminded of this fact in great detail.  I heard a man in his seventies testify to a large group of people about his salvation experience.  The good news is that he accepted Jesus Christ when he was 60 years old.  The bad news is that he sat in the same church for 35 years and never heard the voice of God explaining personal salvation.  He had to go somewhere other than church to hear about Jesus.  Why?  Our Scripture tells us.  As Jesus relates this story, there is example number one, where the first son initially says "I will not," but later obeys his father's will.  Example number two shows the second son promising to go, but not following through.  When Jesus asks the chief priests and elders which one did his father's will, they condemn themselves by choosing "the first."  Jesus explains the initial disobedience   of the "harlots and publicans" and their eventual repentance.  Many call this a "judicial parable," whereby the answerer condemns himself by the obviously implied response.  Most of our churches today are full of "chief priests and elders" and not "publicans and harlots!"  How can that be?  We send the "publicans and harlots" away and label them as undesirable sinners.  Jesus points out that these very groups of people that we exclude, are the ones doing their Father's will.  Let's sum up what we "chief priests and elders" really know.  Jesus's authority comes from God, whether we want to recognize it or not.  Jesus speaks the truth and God's truth doesn't change if we choose not to acknowledge it.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God.  Excluding the "publicans and the harlots," who have repented, doesn't change that fact or make us "holier!"  Now for God's big finish!!!  It will be these very same "publicans and harlots" that inherit God's Kingdom.  No matter how "holy" the chief priests and elders proclaim that they are, through their words and proclamations, God knows who has truly repented and it is "the first!"  Today, I choose to be a "publican" and leave the robes and phylacteries to the priests and elders.  Dear God, I am sorry that I initially said "NO," but I now say "YES, I will go!"  Use me as You will!!!