Matthew 21:31b Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 "For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.
These men were not looking for this! They thought this was a safe question unlike the first one asked.
They probably thought that having the right answer would prove they knew their stuff, and would disarm Jesus.
Jesus confronts these leaders on the basis of obedience to the truth. He just destroyed their religiously correct views by making it a matter of what one does, not just what one says.
John came to you in the way of righteousness...
What does that mean? John came to you with a walk to match the talk and he spoke the truth in step with Scripture to you.
These leaders heard a righteous man but did not act on what they heard. More than that, lives had been changed by the truth John had spoken and they were witnesses to this, and still would not believe.
Why did they not act on it? They did not believe.
Bottom line is simply, God is not moved by good words He is moved by obedience to His word.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
If we hear truth and do not walk in it we become deceived.
Matthew 12:35 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Beware a talk without the walk. Idle words are those things spoken but not acted on.
It is what we do with our lives that tells the truth about who we are, and what we really believe. God is all about obedient faith.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
If we say Jesus is Lord without acting on His word to us, how are we any different than these leaders Jesus rebuked? We are still in unbelief and unable to produce the fruit of repentance.
Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Luke 6:46 "But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?
Doing the truth is not optional to the true believer.
If you are like the first son who said no I will not go, you can also be like the first son and choose to repent and go after all.
It’s not too late to obey.
About The Author
- Tim Atchley
- Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
- I currently serve as Senior Pastor of Harvest Church in Knoxville, Tn. I was sent out from Trinity Chapel of Knoxville in 1993 accompanied by my wife Sheila our four children Sarah, Hannah, Josiah & Isaac and a handful of bold, brave and committed believers determined to plant our first church. Pioneering is hard work but well worth the journey. That is why we desire to make disciples of Christ who will, like us, also embrace the call to plant churches.