Passage: Matthew 21:28-32
This passage tells a story that is quite simple–it doesn’t have a very complicated plot.
- A man had two sons (v. 28)
- The father gave an imperative to both of his sons–“Go work today in the field” (v. 28b, 30)
- Son #1 said “No” at first, but later regretted and obeyed (v. 29)
- Son #2 said “Yes” at first, but ultimately disobeyed (v. 30)
Basic Listening Comprehension Test
Next, Jesus asks a question to test the listening comprehension of His audience composed of the chief priests, the elders of the people, and the Pharisees (v. 23, 45)–“Which of the two [sons] did the will of the father?”
And what did they respond? Surprise, surprise–they passed with flying colors! They responded, “The first [son].”
What Jesus says next is not a congratulatory remark for their correct understanding of the story, but harsh words of indictment: “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you” (v. 31).
What? How can that be? How can immoral people such as tax collectors and prostitutes get into the kingdom of God before the righteous (or so they appear to be) Pharisees, elders, and chief priests? What does God want? What is “the will of the Father?” Are God’s standards arbitrary? Continue reading Matthew 21:28-32 – What God Wants
Passage: Matthew 18:8-9
The heart of this passage is worship and obedience to God. The hand, foot, and eye are symbols used to represent any stumbling device in the believer’s life. Additionally, these may seem as core, essential, and very important parts of the body–no one would really cut off his own hand or foot, or gouge out his own eye without a good reason!
However, consider when one of those body parts are gangrenous or have been infected with a mass of malignant cancer cells. Unless that part is amputated, the deadly disease would spread to other parts of the body, and the person would eventually die. If you ever meet an amputee or a person blind in one eye, you would be able to see that they can still live and perform daily life functions with some mechanical assistance. This is evidence that the person doesn’t need a seemingly very important body part to live.
Jesus wasn’t just talking about body parts, though. The hand, foot, and eye can represent any sin or thing (situations, people, places, activities, substances, etc) in a believer’s life which cause him to sin. Sometimes, we see things in our lives as important and essential, and as things that we cannot give up. We must cut away those stumbling blocks and obstacles to our worship of God without any hesitation (Hebrews 12:1; Psalm 119:59-60), and trust that what God offers to us is far greater than the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25).