Confessional Faith vs Obedient Faith

Confession Faith or Obedient Faith Matthew 21:28-32 “Truly, I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”               Jesus tells a parable that every parent can relate to.  A man has two sons whom he asks to go out and work in the vineyard.  The first one, in a shocking disregard for cultural norms, categorically refuses to do so. Why he refuses is not mentioned, but his refusal is astonishing, for the Jewish culture places a high value on respect for parents and obedience to their commands.  For this individual to refuse would have been immediately condemned.  However, after reflection, he repents and instead goes out and labors in the field.             The second son gives a different answer.  When he hears his father's request, he affirms that he is willing to go into the field and fulfill his family's responsibility.  However, although he verbally confirms his willingness to work in the field, he fails to meet his obl

The Basis of Faith

The Question of Authority Matthew 21:23-27 “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?”               For the observer, the question seemed fair enough.  Jesus had entered the temple and cleared out the moneychangers.  The priests and religious leaders had sanctioned these individuals to ply their trade.  Since the priests and elders were responsible for the temple, they had the authority to allow the moneychangers.  Yet Jesus had driven the moneychangers out of the temple.  If Jesus’ actions were legitimate, then it meant that he had been authorized to do so by someone in higher authority than the chief priests and elders.  So, who had authority higher than chief priests and elders?  It seemed a fair question.             But we discover the question was far more insidious when we go deeper.  It was a question that was designed to trap Jesus.  If he claimed his authority came from the religious leaders, they could quickly condemn Jesus for an improp

Figs and Faith

Figs and Faith Matthew 21:18-22 “Seeing a one fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once, the fig tree withered.”               One event important lesson.  After his return to Bethany, Jesus again set forth to go into the city of Jerusalem.  Traveling in the morning, he became hungry.  Walking by a fig tree, he approached it looking for fruit, for the lushness of the leaves foretold of fruit. Even though it was not yet the season for figs, the fully developed leaves suggested that this tree had matured early and would have fruit.  By all outward appearances, the tree looked healthy and vibrant, one that would have sweet figs on it. However, when Jesus looked closely for figs, he found none.  With its fully developed foliage, the tree promised fruit, but in reality, it was barren.  Because it did not have any fruit, Jesus condemned the fruit, resulting in the tree wit

The Passion of Christ

The Passion of Christ Mathew 21:12-17 “And He said to them, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robber’s den.”               The word “passion” has multiple meanings.  Often, it is used as a designation of the suffering Christ experienced during his trial and crucifixion.  This final period of Christ’s life is called “the passion of Christ.”  This use of “passion” comes from the Latin ‘ patior’,  which means “to suffer, bear, endure.”  But there is another definition for the word.  Passion can also refer to intense desires, zeal, or rage.  To have a passion for something is to have a fierce zeal.  It is the opposite of indifference and complacency.  This zeal was on full display when Christ entered the Temple area.              As Christ entered the temple, he was confronted with the sight of money changers plying their trade in the court of the Gentiles, which was the place in the temple grounds where Gentiles could worship.  According t

The Arrival of the King

The Arrival of the King Matthew 21:1-11 “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”               Every year, the Sunday before Easter, we celebrate Palm Sunday, a time we remember the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. In this, we join with the Jews of Jesus’ day in waiting for the arrival of the Messianic king.  For generations, the Jews lived with the anticipation of the arrival of the Messianic king.  There were many Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah.  It is estimated that there are between 200 and 400 prophecies found in the Old Testament that Christ fulfilled.  One of those passages is Zechariah 9:9, which predicted that the messianic king would not come on a mighty war horse but a lowly donkey.  Instead of coming to portray his power and his victories, the Messiah would come in humility, gentleness, and peace.  As Jesus came down the Mount of Olives, the people recognized the messianic

The Attitude of A Servant Pt 3

The Heart of a Servant Matthew 20:29-34 “Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”               For the casual observer, the question seemed pointless.  Soon after dealing with the disciples’ fixation with power and prestige, Jesus leaves Jericho to ascend up to Jerusalem to celebrate his final Passover with the disciples.  As they were leaving, they encountered two blind men sitting by the road.  To be blind in this time period was to be without any means of income.  There were no social programs, no government assistance.  To be blind meant that they were reduced to begging for their necessary needs.  The text does not tell us how these individuals became blind, whether it was an accident, a disease, or perhaps the tragic result of some sinful behavior, we do not know.  What caused their blindness was not important.  What was important was the fact that these individuals were destitute and reduced to begging for their daily sustenance.            

The Attitutude of a Servant Pt 2

The Heart of a Servant Pt 2 Matthew 20:20-28 “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”               The disciples were in turmoil.  The mother of James and John had requested that Jesus appoint her two sons to be the leaders in his kingdom.  To sit on the right and left hand was equivalent to being second in command, for these were the highest positions of honor.  When the other disciples heard of the request, they were incensed, wanting the same positions of honor. As a result, a heated debate threatened to fracture the disciples' unity.               In response to the rising tension, Jesus calls the disciples together to confront the crisis.  Jesus reminds them that the world’s perspective is about position and power.  Christ is not condemning those in authority; he is confronting the insecurities and pride that lead to self-elevation.  These individuals see power and authority as something to grip with a tight-fisted clutch.  They wrap up their identity with