And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
As Christians, we have our authority through Jesus. But that authority comes with instructions. We are to do the will of our Father. First, we must keep His commandments. Though we stray from our calling and return to sin we must realize that we have to return to Him. Secondly, we must edify the Body of Christ and keep the church, His Bride, pure and Holy. We do that by having the same mind. As Christians, we should lift each other up and work toward the high mark of His calling and the Great Commission. Also by living our lives by His Word, even the parts that the world considers uncomfortable. Third, we must instruct future generations on the way of salvation and the Christian Life. We must remember the Ancient Paths, walk them, and guide our children.
- Keep His Commandments
His Word is our instruction manual, our history book, and our Word of assurance, comfort, and peace. Though many in the world today tell us that we should abandon The Word. If we look closely at what Christ says throughout the Gospels we realize that Christ was a radical. He was a rebel against what was the culture of the day and the accepted comfortable religious organizations. In our Gospel reading today we find an occupation that has taken place. Christ, in this passage, has taken over the Temple in Jerusalem; The political power of the Chief Priests of the Temple was in question. They ruled at the pleasure of Rome. These priests were part of the wealthy elites because they owned land outside of Jerusalem. This radical who called himself the Son of God was disrupting their comfortable living at the cost of the people they were supposed to serve. At this point in Matthew, Christ has already cleansed the Temple with a whip. The priests challenge Christ with a series of 5 questions, the last one is the crux of their intent. “By whose authority are you doing all of this?” Christ answers with a question of his own about His baptism from John. Then He extends His answer with a parable of the Two Sons. Who does the will of the Father, the one who says no but repents and does it anyway, or the son who says yes but just does his own thing anyway? The priests already know that they have lost. Why have they lost? This exchange has put the priests in a catch 22 They know that a denial of the legitimacy of John’s baptism of Christ will not play well with the crowds, whose support they need. On the other hand, if they affirm that John’s baptism came from heaven, He then will ask them why they did not submit themselves to it. Their answer—“we don’t know”—is only two words long in the Greek. This exchange reminds me of Nathan’s parable he told King David (2 Samuel 12:1-13), pointing out the king’s murderous and adulterous behavior. The parable resulted in David’s confession and repentance. Perhaps Jesus was inviting the chief scribes and elders to repent, so they, too, could receive the transforming and true power of God that rules the world in the coming of Christ. Sadly, their hearts were hardened and deeply entrenched in the oppressive powers of sin, so their answer showed their rejection of God’s power of new creation and wholeness embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. They entrapped themselves, choosing to remain in a prison cell of their own making, which is locked from the inside. They chose death over life. This parable is a call to us to daily examine our lives to see which brother are we? Are we saying and doing things that embody the kingdom of God ushered in by Christ and his divine love, or are we supporting the oppressive status quo?
- Edify The Body
Do we run a country club for the saints or are we a hospital for sinners? Let me answer that for you. If you attend a church that turns away the homeless person or the single mom or anyone then that church is not obeying The Great Commission! Here is what may be a newsflash for some. Even though you are saved and you have the Blood covering you, that does not mean that you are perfect and have stopped sinning. We have too many churches that shoot the wounded instead of helping their injured brothers and sisters who just need some edification, encouragement but most of all prayer. Encouraging people not to lead sinful degenerate lives and to try to emulate Christ is the most loving and compassionate thing a person can do.
So how do we lift each other up? Well, the key here is what Paul writes in Philippians 2
1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Paul wrote this while in prison, not only was he trying to reach his fellow prisoners and his jailers he was working to help solve an argument in the Church at Philippi. Humility is what is required to edify the Church. Our example as Paul states is Christ as the slave
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.
We need to remember that, in the ancient world, death by crucifixion was the worst that could happen to anyone. Crucifixion inflicted more than just excruciating pain and led to a slow and cruel death; it meant public display of such pain and death to invite the mockery of bystanders. Crucifixion hence meant hitting rock bottom; one could not possibly get any lower or be more shamed. For Jesus who had been one with the Father in the glory of heaven, the death on the cross showed the extent of his humility. Paul’s aims are neither self-degradation nor the affirmation of power discrepancies, but to call out individualistic quests for societal status and honor as contrary to the spirit of Christ — and potentially harmful to the community.
So as a church we need to put aside selfish ambition and pride and we need to embrace humility and go about the mission that has been charged to us. What does that mean? We need to evaluate what we are doing as a church to advance the cause of Christ. Do we need to pray more? Do we need to teach more? Do we need to go back to pure Biblical preaching? Yes, we do! I am so tired of seeing churches that just want to preach a watered-down gospel. Once we get back to what the Word says and not what the liberal side of the Church and the Moneychangers want us to do. Then we need to ask questions like do we need to go out to the community and meet their immediate need? Once again let me answer that one as well. It is a resounding yes! It is the small things that change the world. We need to as I heard a song say “Dream Small”, it is the simple things that make a huge difference.
To be brutally honest, most churches have lost their vision. We don’t need every church on TV. Nor every preacher to bleach his teeth, smile, and promote his newest book which is nothing but a new-age self-help guide wrapped in cherry-picked Bible verses. We need preachers to preach the Word and the wondrous miracle of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We need church members to get out of their comfort zone and reach those who are lost first and foremost, but also to tend to the needs of their community, to provide a meal to the hungry, to visit the sick and the shut-ins. to be a friend to the friendless. Those simple things will reach more and save more people than a fog machine and a concert cloaked in the name of a worship service.
- Teach Future Generations
We have been commanded by The Great Commission to go and teach and to save those that are lost. But as Christians we are also commanded to teach our children the ways of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6 says Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Our children are our legacy. We as a church have failed to teach our children. We have conformed to the ways of the world. We have let humanist feminist teachings in our Sunday Schools. Instead of the truth we teach the world. We have been called out to be separate . Our children watch us and our greatest lessons that we can teach them are leading by example Men I am calling you out right now. You are charged to be the spiritual leaders in your household. Where are the family devotions? Where are the family prayers? Men, your family’s souls depend on your example. Remember little eyes are always watching you. As the Benson Commentary says
Train up — in the Hebrew, is initiate, or instruct; a child in the way he should go — Or, according to his way, that is, in that course or manner of life which thou wouldest have him to choose and follow. Or, as some render the clause, in the beginning of his way, that is, in his tender years, as soon as he is capable of receiving instruction, the Hebrew is signifying, literally, in the mouth of his way, and the mouth being often put for the beginning or entrance of a place or thing. And when he is old, he will not depart from it — Namely, not easily and ordinarily. The impressions made in his childish years will remain, unless some extraordinary cause occur to erase them. “Instruct a child,” says Bishop Patrick, “as soon as ever he is capable, and season his mind with the principles of virtue before he receive other impressions, and it is most likely they will grow up with him; so that when he is older he will not forsake them, but retain them as long as he lives.”
Our education for our children should model our Christian Life. By living simply for Christ and simply just walking that path of Salvation and honoring what the Logos, The Word of God, says. It is our instruction manual.
We need to raise up the future generations that will not be afraid to carry the Gospel of Christ to all of the world. To call out sin to be that Light that is shining brightly. The Lighthouse that will save the lost. As we talk about raising that generation. We must, once again I stress, that we are the example. Here is a hard truth. It is not the church’s place to teach your children. It is the church’s place to assist in the education but you are the primary spiritual teacher in your family. So how are you leading? Are you on your knees praying? Are you reading your Bible? Are you living a life of integrity even when you think no one is watching?
One of the memories that is seared into my brain is seeing my Grandfather reading a worn and tattered Bible full of notes and prayers. I also remember seeing my Mother on her knees praying for her family as tears streamed down her face as she was approaching the Throne of Grace. But most of all I remember Sunday mornings as we were getting ready for church. My Dad would put the radio on a Southern Gospel station and we would listen to the music. He also made sure to listen to “Moments with The Master” with Bro James Wallace. That was my example. That was my lesson. Yes, I come from a line of preachers and Godly christians. I can trace back generations of my family that prayed for their future generations. I am the first to tell you that I am not perfect. I am a sinner saved by grace. But because my family prayed I am a Christian. As the old song says “when momma prayed Heaven paid attention” We need to bring back that to our lives today. Be that example to your children. You have that authority. The King is coming, will your family be ready?