Monday, he returned to the city.

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

Matthew 21:31

Matthew 21:1 speaks of Jesus coming into Jerusalem. What happens at his entrance to the city was what is traditionally called, the “triumphal entry” or Palm Sunday. In 21:18 Matthew says “the next morning.” If this is accurate chronology, then this is Monday of Holy Week, the week that ended with Jesus’ crucifixion.

Opposition started immediately. In the Temple the religious leaders challenged him and asked by what authority he was “teaching and doing these things.” Jesus told them a parable about a man who had two sons whom he asked to work in his vineyard. Son number one said, “I will not” but later changed his mind and went to the vineyard to work. Son number two said, “I’m going sir,” but he did not go.

“Which of the two did the will of his father,” Jesus asked. The leaders replied that “it was the first one.” What seemed like an innocuous question, proved to be heavy and full of significance.

Jesus explained, “Truly I tell you; the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” The tax collectors and prostitutes are the first son, who had a change of heart and went to work in the vineyard, the Kingdom of God.

In saying this Jesus was setting forth what had been God’s intention all along for the Kingdom of God. Something amply stated throughout the Bible.

  • To Abraham, God said, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing….and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3.
  • Isaiah prophesied that, “In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains…..all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…” Isaiah 2:1-4.
  • Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:17-21.
  • Paul told the Galatia church that, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:8-11.

Jesus blew open the doors on prejudice and rejection. The early church struggled with this and even had a conference in Jerusalem to decide how they were going to respond to the rapid racial and ethnic changes they were encountering. These newcomers to the faith were the first son who said no at first but later changed their mind.

We will struggle with this new God-designed reality.

Something to think about: In the first century, the debates centered on circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses. What do you think the issue of separation boils down to in today’s society?

Something to pray about: Christ of Galatia, you called together a wild, different, and colorful body of disciples and asked us to learn how to love one another. May we honor you with lives of service, embracing others that cross our paths, and love them with love inspired by you. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.

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