While in Jerusalem that final week Jesus taught against the chief priests and the elders, both of whom had vested interests in maintaining the status quo in the Temple. Jesus opposed them in public in the Temple courts. Here is one example:
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“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. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:28–32)
Jesus’ pointed story shows up the hypocrisy of the chief priests and the elders. Apparently they were content to resist what God was clearly doing through Jesus even though they should have been among the first to recognize it. John the Baptist pointed out their spiritual idolatry, and they should have responded with humility and contrition when he did.
This of course does not mean that “tax collectors and prostitutes” were given a pass by John the Baptist or Jesus. Not at all. Both obvious sinners and subtle sinners alike must repent. The way to life and love and peace is through repentance — admitting our self-centeredness and turning to follow Jesus.
Good thing your sins are not obvious, right? Or your would need to repent, too.
Lord, save us from self-centeredness and sin. Free us from the self-deception that allows us to rationalize away our need to repent and turn to you daily. Amen.
Pastor Mark loves his wife and grown children, the Word of God, and words. And coffee, chocolate chip cookies, Apple products, small video projects, and the New England Patriots.