God’s Saving Word: Hope
Matthew 21:23-46: The religious leaders question Jesus’s authority, and Jesus tells two stories (parables) that teach who will enter the Kingdom of God.
The Question about Jesus’ Authority
23 Jesus came back to the Temple; and as he taught, the chief priests and the elders came to him and asked, “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you such right?”
24 Jesus answered them, “I will ask you just one question, and if you give me an answer, I will tell you what right I have to do these things. 25 Where did John’s right to baptize come from: was it from God or from human beings?”
They started to argue among themselves, “What shall we say? If we answer, ‘From God,’ he will say to us, ‘Why, then, did you not believe John?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From human beings,’ we are afraid of what the people might do, because they are all convinced that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you, then, by what right I do these things.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “Now, what do you think? There was once a man who had two sons. He went to the older one and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 ‘I don’t want to,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. ‘Yes, sir,’ he answered, but he did not go. 31 Which one of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The older one,” they answered.
So Jesus said to them, “I tell you: the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the Kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John the Baptist came to you showing you the right path to take, and you would not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Even when you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him.
The Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard
33 “Listen to another parable,” Jesus said. “There was once a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to tenants and left home on a trip. 34 When the time came to gather the grapes, he sent his slaves to the tenants to receive his share of the harvest. 35 The tenants grabbed his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again the man sent other slaves, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all he sent his son to them. ‘Surely they will respect my son,’ he said. 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the owner’s son. Come on, let’s kill him, and we will get his property!’ 39 So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
40 “Now, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” Jesus asked.
41 “He will certainly kill those evil men,” they answered, “and rent the vineyard out to other tenants, who will give him his share of the harvest at the right time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read what the Scriptures say?
‘The stone which the builders rejected as worthless
turned out to be the most important of all.
This was done by the Lord;
what a wonderful sight it is!’
43 “And so I tell you,” added Jesus, “the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the proper fruits.” 44 [a]
45 The chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables and knew that he was talking about them, 46 so they tried to arrest him. But they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.
Today’s Key Verse: Matthew 21:42b
[Jesus said:] ‘The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all.’
Jesus says that the Kingdom of God will be “given to a people who will produce the proper fruits” (verse 43). How do you interpret this passage? Who is the “owner’s son” referred to in the second story (verse 38)? Why do you think Jesus told these two stories to the religious leaders?
Lord Jesus, teach me to follow your ways and to produce the proper fruits that will usher in your Kingdom. In your holy name, I pray, Amen.
And now, join us in thanking God that Angola’s Umbangala people recently celebrated the completion of the very first translation of the New Testament in their heart language. Loving God, until this translation was completed, the nearly 400,000 Umbangala people had no version of the Bible in their own language. The majority of the people live in poverty, and the lack of Scripture in their own language caused many in the community to feel forgotten. Thanks to the generous support from Bible-A-Month Partners, the Umbangala New Testament was blessed and dedicated in the midst of exuberant singing and dancing. We pray, Lord God, for the continued translation work on the Old Testament, and for the Umbangala people to come to faith in Christ as they hear your Word in their own language. Amen.
Matthew 26:1-35: Jesus eats the Passover meal with his disciples.