October 9, 2013
READ: Matthew 21:28-32
Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter (7:21).
A mother asks her two sons to clean their room. The first yells, “Don’t be such a nag, Mum!” and locks himself in his room. Later he feels bad and decides to clean his room. The second says, “Yeah, Mum, anything for you,” but continues to play his video games.
A boss tells two employees to submit their report before they clock off from work. One replies, “That’s impossible!” but stays overtime to complete the report. The other says,
“Sure, no problem,” and conveniently forgets about it.
The above two stories are modern renditions of an old tale—a parable Jesus told. It was an indictment of the religious leaders who said the right things, but were short on obedience. Fundamentally it addresses this question: How do we respond to authority? More important, how do we respond to Jesus’ authority?
The scum of society—the tax collectors and prostitutes—were received into the kingdom of God because they believed and submitted to the authority of Christ (Matthew 21:31-32). The religious leaders, who thought they were the most spiritual men in Israel, were rejected because—though they could talk a good religious talk—they spurned Jesus’ authority.
Submission to God’s authority in Christ demands more than mere words. It’s a call to obey Him. God, who sees our hearts, is not impressed with outward profession that doesn’t translate into obedience.
There’s also a lesson here for those who have doubts and questions about faith. Be honest. Make sure that your questions and struggles come from a sincere desire to know the truth about Jesus and not from a desire to put off the decision to turn from your sin and place your trust in Him. —Poh Fang Chia
Read Ezekiel 18:25-32 for a warning as well as the encouragement to repent and submit to God’s authority.
Which of the two sons mentioned in Matthew 21 best represents you? How will you respond to Jesus’ authority today?