As you quiet yourself for this brief time, be willing to be open to God, however that may take place.
Matthew 21:23-32 (NRSV)
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 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 after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
Much of the Gospels were rewritten verbatim (approximately 70 percent). Isn’t that fascinating? Here we are in Matthew, going a little further than the reading that we had yesterday, which was from Mark. Those questioning Jesus’ authority approached him. In response, he asked them about John’s authority to baptize believers. The text from Matthew continues with a parable that further incensed the religious leaders.
The gospel Jesus preached was counter cultural. He was saying to the leaders, you may have said yes to a calling of ministry, but you aren’t following through with it. Jesus told the chief priests and scribes that those whom they considered to be at the bottom of their society were more righteous than they were! Ouch! Jesus wanted them to understand that a person’s position in society has nothing to do with their righteousness. Those who follow and believe in the truth, in Jesus, are the righteous ones. Wow! How powerful is that?
God, let us see the righteousness in others. Help us not to consider whether or not they are similar to us in society, the color of their skin, or their past actions. Lead us to find relationships with all of your children. Stretch us, Jesus. Today, our prayer is to see your love through the eyes of someone who is marginalized. May we be more like you. Amen.
Go with God.