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Matt 21.28 Thru 32 What Authority Does Jesus Have in Your Li

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What Authority Does Jesus Have in Your Life?

Focus:  That the hearers recognize the authority of Jesus Christ in their lives and repent and believe.

Function:  That the hearers may know that Jesus Christ has authority over their lives and we must respond to God’s kingdom with belief and repentance.

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Does Jesus Christ have authority enough in your life for you to truly believe Him?  In our text today we have a parable of two children.  This is often called the “Parable of the two Sons” but the Greek word is “te,kna” and this is specifically the word for “child” not “son” which is “ui`ou/”.  Therefore, don’t misconstrue and say, “This parable is just for the boys.”  Now to get to the point, both of these children do not do exactly what their father would have them do in this parable.  One says he won’t do as he is asked by his father right off the bat.  Then he has a change of heart and goes ahead and does it.  The other says he will comply immediately and then never does it!  Then Jesus asks the sixty four dollar question, “Which of the two did the will of the father.”  You see, Jesus has trapped the Pharisees again.  If they say the first son has, they are actually still citing someone that has committed a major offense in their own estimation.  He has refused his father to his face!  This is in direct violation of the fourth commandment and not acceptable in the culture of the time!  No matter what, Jesus has got them.  …So, the moral of the story…don’t get in a debate with Jesus of Nazareth.

…I think there is more to it than that.  When the Pharisees reply that the first did finally do the will of the Father, Jesus springs the trap and tells them that the tax collectors and the prostitutes will “go into the kingdom of God before you.”  He is spelling out for them that even those whom they believe to be far below them in the food chain are ahead of them!  This is because they may not have been pious up until now, but…they now have turned from their wicked ways and are following Christ.  They have listened and believed the message that John the Baptist had brought them.  Therefore they will enter the kingdom of God before any Pharisee will.  This is the point. This is a narrative depiction of Jesus’ earlier statement in the Sermon on the Mount:  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.”  Remember the immediate context surrounding this exchange.  This conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees is all about believing in the authority of the Christ.  They were just in conflict over His authority and Jesus turned the focus to John the Baptist and the source of his authority.  So…why John the Baptist?  Because he is the forerunner of Christ!  Rejecting John’s ministry, inevitably, is a rejection of Jesus Himself!  And He, of course, trapped the Pharisees in this exchange also.  They are caught between the rejection of John and the wrath of the crowd and don’t answer as to where his authority is from.  To expose the result of the leaders’ rejection of John, Jesus tells the parable of the Two Children.

Isn’t this the dichotomy for us all?  Aren’t we all on one side of this comparison or the other?  We either come from a background in which we came to know Christ later in life, or have come back around to Him later in life.  Or, conversely, we were born into the church and have tried to do all that a Christian should do throughout our lives (for the most part).  Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean you are a Pharisee if you grew up in the church.  It just means that you are coming from that perspective and must be diligent in avoiding this pitfall.  You see we all have to know that we are sinners and we are going to sin whether we grew up in the church or we didn’t.  The key is to know this!  The thing to avoid on either side of this dichotomy is either feeling that we do everything right or we do everything wrong.  We, as human beings, tend to fall into one of these two traps.  Either we don’t truly believe in our heart that we need forgiveness because, in our heart, we believe we are actually pretty good Christians.  Or we are so lost that we don’t believe God can forgive us for all that we have done.  I’m sure that everyone in this church today doesn’t fall into either of these categories…but let’s just imagine that there are people out there that might just have a hint of this kind of righteousness or feel that they can’t measure up to what they perceive to be the expectation.

You know, even a seminarian can seem pretty pious in his estimation of himself when compared to the world around him.  After all, we have given up the opportunities this great nation allows us to make our fortunes and we have relinquished our lives to a life bordering on poverty in many cases.  We read the bible every day and study the original languages to search for the truth and grow closer to God!  We delve as deeply as we can into the word of God every dayThis is what I am talking about!  When I speak of the threat of slipping onto that side of the line of law and gospel this is how it happens.  It is easier for the Christian that is actively serving in the church to err in this way.  When we let ourselves believe that it is just the Pharisees that are in trouble in this regard, that is when we are fooling ourselves.  The Pharisees really did honor the Lord.  They devoted their lives to the keeping of all of the Laws of the Torah.  They believed that they were righteous in God’s eyes because they lived a God pleasing life.  They would go through the perfunctory forgiveness ritual of sacrificing to the Lord but we see, through Jesus’ words, that they did not really understand in their hearts what following God really entailed.  Even the disciples did not truly understand what was required to follow their master…to the end.  This kind of misunderstanding can occur in the life of any Christian.  We lose perspective and begin to look at things from an “us and them” point of view.  “They” are the unrighteous and “we” are the righteous.  This is true, in that we are righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ but we are not righteous to begin with and we do unrighteous things every day just like them.

On the other hand…do we measure up?  Well, what does it mean to “do the will of God?”  Let’s review…What is His will but to believe the message that John the Baptist brought?  It is to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and who He is, as the “Lamb of God” and savior of the world!  This parable is not about works or what we have to do physically, such as attending church or tithing, but about believing!  It is not about earning the righteousness but believing that Jesus is our righteousness and that all we have to do is believe and repent!

You see…this is the good news.  …There is a third son to look for in this parable.  He has revealed Himself through John.  He is the one that is speaking the parable.  He is our Lord Jesus Christ and He has done God’s will perfectly.  And…in doing so, attained forgiveness for the times you have been slow to do God’s will yourselves.  He has even brought forgiveness for those that aren’t really sure you need it.  Don’t forget, His arms of divine mercy are open wide enough to have waited for the harlots and tax collectors to repent. 

He has also brought forgiveness for you that doubt Him and His power to save you.  He suffered and died that painful death for you that believe you can’t possibly measure up to what you think is expected.  I thank God every day for His mercy which was expressed through the person of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that was earned for me through suffering and dying on the cross.  Through the one who said, “not mine but your will be done,” we are enabled to say yes to God’s commands (unlike the first son), and actually do God’s will (unlike the second son).  For this reason we can say what Paul tells us in Philippians, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Amen.

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