DayBreaks for 08/30/11 – Who Gets In First
I’m sure that you’ve had experiences like mine where you’ve waiting in a long line or even a bustling mob, waiting until the door to the movie theater, ball park, high-tech store opens and people surge in. It seems to happen about every Christmas when the latest iPhone or iPad or iTouch or Gameboy or PS3 Playstation is released. People will line up for up to several days in advance to be certain that they can get that one special present (more often than not for themselves), so they want to be the first ones to get in.
“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.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. 31 “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. 32 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.” – Matthew 21:28-32
What an enormous propensity we have for self-justification! What an enormous capacity we have for being shown what is right, and not accepting it!
Jesus stings the religious leaders, saying John showed them what was the right way to live – but they wouldn’t accept it. They were too smug in their self-certainty and goodness. It wasn’t John’s failure, it was theirs.
The tax collectors and prostitutes, probably the two most looked-down upon groups in that time, believed John’s word and Jesus says that they are the ones who will be allowed first into the kingdom. Jesus wasn’t saying that the righteous folks couldn’t get in, but change was needed for them to come to the point of belief. The difference: one group (the tax collectors and prostitutes) heard words of hope and future possibilities for a new life, while the other group heard it as a personal attack. I wonder how often I lean to one side or the other?
It is those who think they deserve to be first in line who may be left outside staring through the gates into the heavenly city, watching those who knew they never deserved it as they sing praise to the Lamb.
PRAYER: Humble us, Lord! Open our ears to not just hear the truth but to let it permeate deep into our hearts and minds. Let us believe! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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