“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said “Son: go and work in the vineyard today.” And (the son) answered “I will not,” but afterward he changed his mind and went. And the (father) went to the other son and said the same. And the (2nd son) answered “I go, sir” but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? (The Pharisees) said: “The first.”
“Truly I say to you the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the Kingdom of God before 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 when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.” Matt 21:28-32
Plainspoken; not obscure at all. When Jesus said “Let him who has ears to hear, let them hear” it wasn’t hard to hear. What was hard was changing my mind from what I wanted to the plain Word of the Lord.
Don’t you love parables? The have a way to worm around in my thinking. They can cause me to ponder. On the negative side they also have an ability to get me to respond “That’s too hard to understand-let me go to the next thing…” and off I go. It may be from the Scriptures to the ball game or a TV movie or anything that can distract me from thinking of eternal things.
Here are the Pharisees. Jesus is leading them by the hairs on their beard to: 1) illustrate the difference between actually obeying or putting on a show-first son said “no” but silently repented and obeyed anyway. The second son said “Sure thing Dad, anything for you. I love to be obedient…” but afterward didn’t do anything. Notice that Jesus in this case led the Pharisees to answering the only way the parable question could be answered. Open mouth, insert foot. Enjoy.
How do I respond? I really really like to think that I got the point of the parable without being the Pharisee. Truth is that I am too often just like a Pharisee: I look to wear my so-called righteousness on the outside and I neglect that Jesus wants my heart, not my actions. His stated purpose is changing my heart of stone to a heart of flesh. That is more than being kind, considerate, and not like other people. That is mind and thought transformation, repudiating and leaving sin, to be things that the world isn’t like humble and transparent; extending mercy even when receiving anything but; and many other things but doing them secretly and in quiet.
I know one reason I dislike my yearly performance reviews at work: it is that somewhere I know I want to toot Jesus’s horn, not mine.
Father, how do I cultivate humility? I don’t want to be as a Pharisee within this local church. I don’t want to parade my righteousness around and blow a trumpet before me, beside me, or in the direction of where I came. I am looking at the list on my desk about how to cultivate humility. I don’t look at it often enough. Please let me put some distinct and focused effort to bring humble and effective fruit in my life, my marriage, my role as an empty nest parent, at work, and in public. More so, let me/help me/cause me to be humble beginning in my prayers and my secret life before you. AMEN.