“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. – Matt. 21:31 NIV
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The constant use of parables by Jesus Christ to address several issues amongst the brethren was definitely not a co-incidence. On one occasion he had told the disciples that it was his method of limiting those that will benefit from the wisdom that is contained in his teachings – Matt. 13:10-13. One may however not rule out the possibility of avoiding the expected negative reactions of the Pharisees, the Elders and the Temple leaders who generally may want to implicate him using his statement which they are always ready to twist – Matt. 26:57-68. He needed to be smart with them so that he would be able to fulfil his mission successfully.
The occasion that warranted the statement he made and which forms the foundation scripture for today’s Devotional is not different. Jesus in one single stretch had entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey with the people treating him like a king and a Saviour, with the expectation that he it was that was going to deliver them from the oppressive government of the Romans and their Jewish collaborators – Matt.21:1-11. He had chased traders and money exchangers out of the temple courts cautioning them not to turn the House of Prayer into a “Den of Thieves” – Matt. 21:12-17. He had also cursed a fig tree that had leaves for not having fruits on it despite all the nourishment made available to it and the same tree had dried up instantly – Matt. 21:18-22. And more significantly, he was teaching the people with authority that they had not witnessed before, more so from a young person like him – Matt. 7:28-29. All these events were sufficient to make the priests and the elders and approach him to question the authority with which he was doing all that he has been doing and also wanting to know who handed such authority to him. – Matt. 21:23.
Rather than give a direct response to their question, he chose to ask them the source of the authority with which John the Baptist operated. Knowing that any response given will expose them to potential backlash from the people, because of the high rating and respect that the people have for the Ministry of John the Baptist, they chose not to answer and Jesus Christ also declined responding to their enquiry (Matt. 21:24-27).
He instead have them an analogy using the story of two brothers whose father had instructed to go and work in his vineyard. The first initially refused to go but eventually did go whilst the second promised that he will go but did not need the father’s request, asking them in the process which of the two sons implemented the father’s wish. They were all unanimous in their response that it was the first. Reacting to their response to his question, he gave a warning to them and by implication to today’s Christian. Their fate on the last day will not be determined by their ancestral linkage with him but simply by their obedience to His instructions, as people like prostitutes and tax collectors who initially may have rejected his Instructions and whom they feel are not worthy, but who choose to eventually obey Him, will actually go ahead of them into the Kingdom of God. That they refused to believe and accept the message from the Almighty God because of their lack of recognition for His messengers including the message of the one they claim to recognise will be the reason for their failure to be allowed access into his kingdom.
Jesus Christ advised the Jews of his time on the need for them to show respect and recognition for the message of the Almighty God by obeying the Instructions as conveyed by His messengers else they could find themselves behind in the journey into the kingdom and this same advise is relevant to the Christian today. Attempting to question the messengers of the gospel rather than authenticating and choosing to implement the Instructions of God as delivered by them, when proven to be true, seems to be the norm amongst Christians today. Christians spend valuable time looking at the wine jar without caring for the content of the wine jar – Matt. 23:25. As much as both should be of interest, attempts to destroy the wine jar for any reason, justified or not, should take cognizance of the content which really is the more important of the two. Jesus Christ in the course of one of his many teachings had advised the Jews to see and believe in the works of his father that he was doing, even if they will not believe in him – Jn. 10:37-38.
Focusing on the personality of the messenger, as right as it may seem, may not be as important as paying proper attention to the message with the intention of confirming that it is indeed from the Lord and choosing to adhere to it strictly. It is very possible for a messenger to be useless and the message a life saving one – Matt. 23:1-3.
Learn to do more of listening to the message rather than looking at the status of the messenger as the Almighty God can use anyone or anything for transmission of his Instructions. With regards to Jesus Christ, all that the Jews could have done was to confirm his message rather that bother about when and where he was born and who is family members are – Jn. 1:45-46.
Begin today to focus on the message rather than the messenger and you may just be on the track to re-aligning your life in the Will of God. The result of that is divine success and entrance into His Kingdom. May that be out portion in Jesus name. Amen.