“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.’” vs. 31bMatthew 21:28-32
It must have been hard for the chief priests and the elders to hear these words of Jesus. They had understood his parable about the two sons asked to work in the vineyard – they knew which son had done the father’s will. But they likely didn’t realize the story was about them, and that it called into question everything they’d ever believed about their relationship to God. And when he told them that sinners would go into the kingdom of God before them, they were shocked to the core. This man Jesus was more dangerous than they’d ever dreamed. If he were allowed to continue, their whole religion would be turned topsy-turvy. That’s what Jesus continues to do when his followers get too religious for their own good. It’s stunning how quickly we who follow the rules begin to believe that our obedience sets us apart from the sinners in our midst. How easy it is for us to look down on the misfits and misguided and make assumptions about their relationship to God! We have such contempt for the broken and addicted – and then Jesus comes and points out our hypocrisy. Who is it that really gets grace? And who regularly feasts on the crumbs of forgiveness that are scattered their way? It’s those we think we’re better than! And it’s our religion that needs to come tumbling down!
Thought for the Day: Who do I think I’m better than in my heart?