Jesus has marched triumphantly into Jerusalem and received the accolades due an earthly King. Lazarus is there, and his resurrection is causing many to believe in Jesus – and the Sanhedrin are not amused. Jesus goes to the Temple to teach, and the chief priests and elders question His authority.
“By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. Matt 21:23-27 (ESV)
Jesus wasn’t being snarky to the elders. His point was simple: if you can’t tell me whether John was working under God’s authority, how can you judge my authority? He looked into their hearts and saw their hypocrisy. He answered them with a question that highlighted their lack of understanding.
Then He told two parables. The first, the parable of the two sons, reminds us that our life’s fruit is based on our actions. The first son pretended to be obedient but went his own way. The second son said that he would not obey but had a change of heart. He repented and obeyed the father. That’s what Jesus wants for each of our lives as well. We are human and want to be disobedient, but once we’ve accepted Christ we must also accept His will. We need to turn from our own ways and follow the will of the Father.
The second parable (tenants) was directed at Israel. God sent many prophets to warn the people, and like the Old Testament prophets, they were beaten and stoned. Finally He sent His only Son. The people killed the Son, incurring God’s divine judgment. Because of their actions, the “vineyard” will be leased to other vinedressers – the present day church.
The people listened but never heard what Jesus had to say. We’re just like those men and women of old: disobedient, sinful … and for those who have accepted the free gift of salvation, forgiven.
The people didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. He was aware of that and told them that even their unbelief had been prophesied in their Scriptures.
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Isaiah 53:1 (ESV)
Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed. Isaiah 6:10 (ESV)
…but some believed. They refused to take a stand for fear of losing standing in the community.
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:42-43 (ESV)
When it comes time for you to take a stand among your friends, family and co-workers, are you boldly confessing Jesus? Is your love of God stronger than your fear of rejection? It’s time to take a stand!
Do you believe in Jesus? Have you accepted His free gift of salvation? The people of Jesus’ day saw the Living God. We have Scripture to record His life. When you look at Jesus, you are seeing God. You’ve seen His story from the beginning of the world. If you’ve not yet received Him as your Savior, it’s time.
“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” John 12:44-50 (ESV)
Jesus came to be the atonement for our sins. He is the only way to God. if you have been taught that there are many paths to God, you’ll soon see from Jesus’ words that this statement is false. Jesus is the narrow door. Will you enter?
See you tomorrow as we relive Jesus’ last days together. May God bless your faithfulness in reading through His Word this year.