Time to restart

In Matthew 21 we find Jesus continuing to teach the religious leaders, even though His death is impending just days away. His topic de jour is second chances. Hey, after all, who doesn’t need a second chance, am I right? Do I have anyone reading who is a second chance person, or perhaps you are on a fourth or fifth chance person? Let me be clear, I am right there with you. Of course, we all need second chances sometimes. Because we have all blundered our way through trying to be good and what we discover is our deep need of God’s grace. 

The Bible is filled with prophets who reveal and speak for God to guide and correct the people. Jesus even shares about His own cousin, the last Old Testament prophet who came to proclaim the righteousness of God. Matthew 21:32~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. (ESV). We all struggle at times when we hear the Lord speak to us. Jesus is confronting the religious leaders by telling them you are attacking me and want to know about my authority in the faith, yet you have not belied God or His prophet who came to share with you the good news that Messiah was standing in your midst. Jesus tells us that John the Baptist was one of God’s greatest prophets Jesus informs us of this fact in Matthew 11:11~Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist, yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (ESV) 

Still, the Jewish establishment of leaders refused to believe. They rejected the words, they rejected the miracles. What they seem to want more than anything is the status quo. What is it that you want in this life? What do you want Jesus to do on, in and through you by the power of the Holy Spirit? Jesus says, therefore, they will again, not believe Him, even though John the Baptist himself proclaimed who He is in John 1:29~The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (NIV) The Jewish leaders were so self-righteous and judgmental they were oblivious to their own sin. 

And so there was Rebellion In The Vineyard. We must learn from their rebellion so that, we can be spiritually fruitful in God’s Economy. What God desires from our lives is not a self-righteous professor of faith, but a humble, teachable, moldable servant who rejects intimidation and refuses to be judgy. Is there a place in your life, where you need to stop being judgy and allow grace to flood in? Why not take time to pray about how you can let go and become an agent of God’s divine grace. You are more capable than you think. trust in the Lord and walk with Him daily.

The Judges

If I am not careful I will become Judgy. Are you like me, do you have to work at refusing the judgy ways of our humanity? (Matthew 21:28-32) If you have ever seen Kelly’s Heroes, then you probably know what I am talking about. It’s a 1970’s movie where Donald Sutherland plays a laid back hippie Sergeant, permanently furloughed in mellowness. His traveling tank mechanic is none other than Captain Stubing, Gavin McCloud, an uptight person who bathed in the negative waves. Always with those negative ways Moriarty. Ours is not to be a judgy person who lives in a judgy way of life, which can be so negative. Remember to be judgy means we are always putting on heirs and looking down on others from a perched vantage atop a high and lofty ivory tower. When we become judgy, we act out as if we are indeed a self-righteous person and thus have the privilege of being a judge. 

As Jesus continues His conversation with the Jewish leaders He tells them a parable. Matthew 21:28-29~What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, Son, go and work in the vineyard today. And he answered, I will not, but afterward he changed his mind and went. Matthew 21:30-31b~And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, I go, sir, but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? They said, The first. (ESV) 

Matthew 21:31c~Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. (ESV) Wow, uh, the tax collectors? You mean to tell me that the ladies of the night and the most despicable classes of people in Israel are getting in? These two groups obviously refuse at first to serve God, living out the imprint of Adam. But, they repent of their sin and will enter the kingdom of God. The Jewish leaders are an example of a fatal flaw found in Proverbs 16:18~Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (ESV) 

Rebellion in the Vineyard

It is Jesus’ final week, the betrayal, suffering, and payment for sin is on the not so distant horizon. On Monday, Jesus cleansed the temple of money-changers and swindlers creating a drought as cash quite flowing. After spending Monday night in Bethany, on Tuesday morning Jesus goes back to Jerusalem, only this time without the fanfare, where He again enters the temple complex. This week our pericope reveals to us three actions for us to be spiritually fruitful in God’s Economy. Join me as we look at Rebellion In The Vineyard.

The first thing we are confronted by is our need to reject the intimidation of the world (Matthew 21:23-27) As Jesus is teaching, the chief priests and elders approach Him questioning His authority. Matthew 21:23~And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching and said, By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority? (ESV) The phrase “these things” refer to His teaching and the miracles He is doing, but especially to His cleansing of the temple. 

In response, Jesus says let me ask you a question. Matthew 21:25~ The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man? And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, From heaven, he will say to us, Why then did you not believe him?” (ESV) The Jewish leaders are caught in a great quandary; having fear as the motivator, rather than righteousness. Listen to the rest of their discussion Matthew 21:26-27~But if we say, From man, we’re afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, We do not know. And he said to them, Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. (ESV)

The Jewish leaders ask Jesus about His authority because they cannot have Him upsetting the apple cart, and so they’re plotting to kill Him. Mark 11:18~The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. (ESV) If Jesus answers His authority comes from God, He will be declaring Himself the Messiah. Then, they could accuse Him of blasphemy and bring Him to trial. They could even kill Him because of the Levitical law. Leviticus 24:16~anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death. (NIV) 

Ingeniously, Christ Jesus traps the highest religious leaders, who are the respected Old Testament scholars. Forcing them to profess their own ignorance. If they don’t know whether John the Baptist was from God, how can they judge whether Jesus is from God or not? If we are going to reject the intimidation of the world, then we need to know who has given Jesus His authority. God gave Him his authority. John 3:17~For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (NIV)

Have you come to recognize the authority of Jesus in your life. Did you know that God loved you so much, that Jesus came to die for your sins? Each day we are faced with the opportunity to accept Jesus and walk with Him into a world that is truly longing to hear some good news. Today, why not ask the Lord to live in you and help you walk with Him. I bet along the way you are going to meet some pretty wonderful people and some of them are going to love what you have to say about Jesus.