Parable of the Tenants

(Mark 12:1-12)

This parable was told by Jesus in relation to the chief priests in relation to how they had failed. They were given a responsibility by the Lord and they failed in their responsibility. What is worse they abused their position to try and gain power and position instead of offering service that was required of them in their positions as priests in God’s temple. For this they were rejected.

vineyardJesus showed that their situation was like a man who built a vineyard and let it out to tenants. God was the builder, the world, or more specifically the Israel nation was the vineyard and the priests were the tenants. The priests were charged with the responsibility of their office to rule the people according to God’s law. They were to teach the people God’s law and ensure his ways were followed.

Instead they abused their position for power and personal gain. And this was not just in Jesus’ generation, but had been going on for many generations prior to this.

In the parable the man who owned the vineyard sent servants to receive the profits of the business and they beat or killed the servants so that they could keep it all to themselves. This was an abuse of their power. In the same way God sent his servants, prophets and righteous men to teach the people and to try to bring the people back to his ways. But the religious leaders of the days and the evil kings had them beaten and killed so that they would not lose their positions of power.

Then we see the vineyard owner send his son, but the tenants conspired and killed the son thinking that this would be the end and they would have realised their wicked aims. Likewise Jesus, the Son of God, came to the earth to bring the people back to worshipping and honouring the Lord and the chief priests conspired together and had him killed.

Naturally they chief priests were annoyed at Jesus for telling this parable for it showed them up for their evil doing. But it also showed that instead of ridding themselves of this problem man by the name of Jesus, they actually fulfilled the will of God. For it is in the death of Jesus that we receive life. It was in the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Lord God drew mankind back to him. And it was through the death and resurrection of Jesus that he dispossessed the priests and threw down their power so that access to God became available to all of mankind.

They lost the inheritance and it was given to others, just as the evil tenants lost the inheritance they tried to take by force. The inheritance went to Jesus Christ as the Son of God and we have access to the inheritance of the Son through coming to Christ.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Gavin Kerigan)

What Defiles a Man

(Mark 7:14-23)

What is the key to living a life of truth and purity in Christ? Is it following the traditions of the church? No. Jesus in this section showed that purity in Christianity was not an outward thing but a matter of the heart.

angry-manJesus had just upbraided the Pharisees for following their traditions rather than following the word of God. In fact they gave such importance to their traditions that they completely negated the word of God, which was leading people astray. Jesus showed the error of their ways and then went on to correct them.

The argument came up over the washing of hands before eating. This was a tradition the Pharisees were teaching and were annoyed because the disciples of Jesus were not following their tradition. In closing down their argument, Jesus said to all the people that, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” (Verses 14-15)

A person is not defiled by eating without washing their hands, at least not in the sight of God. A person is defiled when they behave poorly towards their fellow man. Real defilement is a matter of behaviour not food.

When someone behaves badly towards another they are showing a lack of respect and of love for that person. The basis of both the old and new covenants is love. So when a person acts in opposition to love, they are defiled for they are not acting in accordance with the nature and the will of God.

To eat with unwashed hands could make you sick physically, but it will neither commend nor cause your rejection before God. He does not care whether we wash our hands to eat or not. The old saying that “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” is completely wrong.

What will cause you to be defile dis anger, wrath, malice, evil behaviour, fornication, licentiousness, adultery, murder, deceit and so on. These are the true blots and blemishes on the character of man.

In Jesus we have the opportunity to overcome the nature of man. We can have the victory over the flesh by learning and applying the words of the truth. The path we are to follow is not the traditions of man, but the truth of the gospel of Christ. Seek his ways and you will find a path where there is no defilement.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Alessandro Paiva)

Understand the Parable of the Sower

Understanding the parable of the sower is important for it shows the path of many who hear the word of God. Not everyone who hears the word will listen, take it to heart and allow the word to make a difference in their life. Let us look at the categories the Lord has given us to understand the parable of the sower.

The first group where the seed falls on the path and is snatched away by the birds are those people who have the word taken away from them as they hear it. They may hear the word among other non-believers and bend to peer pressure, they may choose to believe the lies of this world that say there is no God, they may have been conditioned by those without faith earlier, they may just choose not to accept it or it may be that their hearts have been hardened against the Lord and they refuse to accept his word. Whatever the cause the word does not get a chance to take root in their lives as it is taken away immediately. At this point they are without hope. However this does not mean they will stay this way. The Lord can work miracles with people and turn them around as he did with the apostle Paul who violently opposed the Lord but later became one of the greatest of the apostles.

The second group are those who receive the word like seed sown on rocky ground. There is a little soil there but not enough to sustain growth to maturity for the seed. Likewise these people immediately receive the word, but they have no depth of understanding and the word cannot take root in their life. So when opposition arises on account of the word, or when they are being tested on their faith they cannot stand the heat of the test or the opposition and they fade away. Their is no question that those who choose to take the Lord’s path will be persecuted and suffer trials. Peter said as much in 1 Peter 4:12 saying, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12-13, “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived.” And this brings us to the third group.

The third group are those who receive the words of the Lord but then it is strangled out of their lives like good grains are strangled by weeds. These people hear the word but it has no priority in their life. They constantly put other things before their relationship with the Lord and everything gets in the way of their walk with Christ. Eventually they find no place for Jesus in their lives. It could be work, family commitments, the desire to have a good time, other things that arise on days when they could meet with other Christians, invitations to parties, picnics, gatherings or whatever. The noise and hubbub of life gets in their way and they lose sight of the Lord. Their problem is one of priorities. They have not identified Christ as the first priority in the life and are not prepared to make the sacrifices necessary for their walk with Christ.

Finally the fourth group are those who hear and understand and take the words of the Lord to heart. The word takes root and grows within them to bring them to maturity in Christ. They learn the ways of the Lord and how to stand in the face of direct or indirect opposition. They learn how to face the heat of persecution and the diversions of this world and make a stand for Christ. They do this because they understand that what they may lose or give up now is of no comparison to what they will gain in the future. Besides they have learned that even if there is suffering and persecution now, they have learned how to remain at peace within themselves by applying the teachings of Christ to their lives. They trust the Lord and he delivers them from all persecutions and problems.

I do not believe those in the first three groups are without hope. When a person hears the word of the Lord it may not immediately take root, but it may take time to germinate within them. There is evidence of one such as this who had been given up as lost in the life of Onesimus in the letter of Paul to Philemon. Onesimus had been considered lost and had done some terrible thing to Philemon who was his brother. But Onesimus had found the Lord and Paul was pleading on his behalf with Philemon to take him back as a brother both in the flesh, but even more in the spirit. This is truly an example of one who having been considered lost was then found. It is also not unlike the prodigal son who was considered lost but repented and was found.

There is always hope. If we have loved ones and are unsure where they stand, and even if they seem opposed to the Lord, we can always pray for them that perhaps the Lord may reveal himself to them so that they will be found as Onesimus and the prodigal son were found. Never give up on anyone for only the Lord knows the heart of a person and whether they can or will turn to him for salvation.

A Sower Went Out To Sow

(Mark 4:1-9)

A large crowd had gathered around Jesus by the sea and he began to teach them. He taught them about the parable of the sower beginning with the words, “A sower went out to sow…” This is an interesting parable in many ways and there is much we can learn about people and their walk with the Lord from this lesson. He gives the meaning of the parable to the twelve disciples shortly, so I will leave that for another post. In this post I will discuss some other things I have seen in this message.

How many people will come to the Lord? No-one knows the exact number but from this parable we see that not all people will be saved. Many will receive the word of God but for various reasons they will eaither not listen or it will be taken away from them. This is to be expected for here in this teaching the Lord has told us so.

Who will listen and who will not listen has not been given for us to know. This message tells us that there will be some who appear to be on fire after hearing the word but the fire dies and they fade away. It is only the Lord who knows the heart of a person and who will take the word to heart.

The process of sowing the word of God can be hit and miss. If we consider the way that seed was sown in the Lord’s day, it was thrown out by hand and not all of the seed fell in fallow ground. Even the seed that did fall in fallow ground did not always produce a hundredfold. It is the same with those who come to the Lord.

What is most important for each of us is to first accept the word of the Lord and take it to heart so that we may bear fruit. When or if we have the opportunity to sow the seed of God’s word to others, recognise that not all who hear the word will accept it. This is the essence of this teaching. Some will hear and accept, others will not. Those who do will produce the fruits of righteousness and bear fruit in their lives. Those who do not will be lost.

Parable of the Ten Virgins

(Matthew 25:1-13)

In keeping with the parables in this section of Matthew, this one is about watching and being prepared for the Lord’s return. Here we see ten virgins who have been invited to the marriage feast. All of them brought lamps as it was night, but five of them were foolish for they brought no spare oil. The other five were wise for they did bring additional oil with them.

Now it is important to first realise that all of these ten virgins were invited to this marriage feast. All of them had been called by the Lord to come to his feast. We who come to the Lord are like those virgins. We have received an invitation to the marriage of the Lamb and the church. But what we see about those who were invited in this parable is that half of them are foolish. The five who brought no oil were not ready and were unprepared for the feast. They did not have sufficient oil to ensure their lamps would stay alight and their lights were going out.

As Christians we are invited to come to the Lord. Like these virgins, we receive the teachings of the Lord that are light to our souls. And like these virgins we must continue to feed our knowledge with the teachings of the Lord so we may grow and not have the light of life dim and go out. If we do not have sufficient oil, that is the knowledge of the truth, our lamps may flicker and go out, as happened to the five foolish virgins.

The oil in our lamps is the teachings of life. These bring the light of knowledge and insight about the gospel of Jesus Christ into our hearts, minds and souls so that we are full of the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We must continue to learn and to take in these teachings. We must apply the teachings to our lives so that we come to maturity.

However it is evident that some of the people called by the Lord will not do so. They will not get the additional oil necessary to grow with Jesus Christ and their lamps may go out. We see the five foolish virgins asking for additional oil from the five wise maidens, but the response was that there might be insufficient to go around. The wise virgins counsel the foolish ones to go to the dealers to get more oil.

The dealers represent the teachers and preachers of the church, led by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches us all things and brings all of the teachings of Christ to our remembrance. So the foolish virgins are advised to go to the teachers and preachers to get more oil. They are to “go to the dealers” to obtain what is needed to prevent their lamps from going out. One of the issues with this is that it is late at night. The dealers have probably closed up shop for the day and would not be able to provide what the foolish maidens sought. Likewise, the teachers and preachers of Jesus Christ may not be available at the time when these foolish people are seeking his ways. It may be too late and they are inaccessible.

After the foolish virgins go and return they seek entry into the marriage feast. But because they were not ready when they should have been, they are excluded. In the same way, those who are not ready when the Lord returns will also be excluded. They will not be able to enter the kingdom of God for they were not prepared.

So again Jesus finishes his discourse saying, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” This is again a warning to all of his people. This parable is telling us to be prepared and to make ready. If we are not ready when he returns, we will be excluded. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to come to him for teaching and to learn his ways.

The Parable of the Talents

(Matthew 25:14-30)

This parable continues the warnings Jesus gave to those who are his so that they would act as they should. The parable of theĀ  talents has two significant sections. First it discusses the giving of the talents and how they are to be employed, and second what will occur on the return of the Lord.

The parable of the talents is about a man going on a journey and entrusting his property and business to his servants. We see him give different amounts to each of three servants. In this case a talent was a significant sum of money. They were to trade with these talents for the benefit of their master. Their work was to be in the employment of their master by using the talents he had given them so they would increase the wealth and size of the masters business.

We could look at these talents also as abilities and skills that the Lord gives to each of us. His teachers, preachers and ministers have certain talents, skills and abilities which they are to employ in the service of the Lord for the purpose of expanding his kingdom here on earth. These talents, skills and abilities are used for the teaching, upbuilding and encoragement of the church. Perhaps more to the point, the Lord also gave gifts to men for the purpose of working in his kingdom. Some are called to be teachers, some prophets, pastors, evangelists for the purpose of bringing the people of God to full maturity in the gospel of Christ. (Ephesians 4:8-14)

We can also look at these talents as the skills and abilities given to all of mankind. Every person is given a life and certain abilities. Whether they choose to use their life to seek and follow the Lord or to turn from him will determine their outcome in relation to the inheritance of the kingdom of God.

Coming back to the parable we see that the three servants were given different amounts of money to trade with. One received five talents, one received two talents and the third received only one talent. Now it is evident that the master gave his property to the servants on the basis of who would do the best job with it. The servant who received the five talents was well trusted by the master and he expected he would do the best job with what was given him. This level of trust would have been based on prior history and how this servant had behaved and performed on previous occasions. The master knew the servant would do a good job because he had been tested over time and had performed well. Thus the master had a high level of trust and so gave him the lions share of his property to work with.

It is appropriate that the servants of the Lord are likewise found to be trustworthy. They are to serve the Lord such that they can build trust by doing a good job with the gifts given to them. Whether it is to teach, preach, pastor, aid, administer or whatever, they are to faithfully employ the gifts they are given for the benefit of the Lord and the church and not their own benefit.

The second servant was still in the process of being tried and proven. He was not yet ready and perhaps had not yet fully gained the confidence of the master. Thus he was given only two talents to see what he would do. The master had a level of trust but was not yet sure of his capabilities. However this servant did not let his master down but took the talents given to him and worked hard to produce one hundred percent growth. This built the masters trust and faith in this servant such that he received the same reward as the first servant. Both of them received the same blessing of their master on a job well done and were to receive the same promise of a reward for their work in his service.

Every person who comes to God and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ is offered the same reward. We all have the offer of eternal life with Christ in his kingdom upon his return. If we follow him and learn his ways we will receive this reward. But we may also be given work to do in the service of the Lord and we are to do that work as trustworthy servants. The reward is the same but the blessing is greater for it is more blessed to give than to receive. If we receive a gift from God, the blessing comes from using that gift in the service of the Lord for the advancement of his people and the purpose of the Lord.

Finally we see the last servant to whom only one talent was given. The master clearly did not yet have much trust in this servant and so he only gave him a small amount to see how he would perform. This servant had the opportunity to use the gift given to him but chose not to. He hid this talent away and did not employ it in the service of the master. There was no growth and there was no benefit to the master on his return from this final servant. All he got back was what was his own.

We then see the reason for why the servant had done nothing explained. The servant chose to blame the master for his own lack of performance. He did not accept any responsibility himself but was in effect saying to the master that he was an evil master. He said, “It’s your fault that I did not do anything because you are a hard man to work for so I did nothing rather than fail.” It is clear this servant was wrong, for whether the master was a hard man or not, he had been entrusted to do a job and failed to do it. The master then said, “Well if you knew I was a hard and an evil man, you should have done something similarly evil to give me a return for what I had given you.” The master said the man should have put his money out to the money lenders to receive usury or interest if he thought the master was evil so that the evil master would have received an evil gain from the servant.

Jesus was not condoning the practice of taking usury or lending money at interest in this section. Usury was forbidden under the law and with good reason for it is destructive. But what Jesus was showing was that if the servant thought the master was evil, he could have used evil methods to do as the master wanted. In essence he was condemning the servant for saying the master was a hard man from the servants own mouth. The servant chose not to do what he was supposed to do and so was condemned. There was no one else to blame for his inaction and he could not shift the blame. The responsibility for doing nothing fell squarely on the servants shoulders and he was punished accordingly.

Many people who are given the gift of life choose to waste that gift and do nothing with it. They choose to do the opposite of what the Lord would hope for giving them this gift and they destroy rather than build up. This is a waste. Some even say it is too hard to follow Jesus and so take the easy road to do nothing. They are wrong and are trying to shift blame for their inaction to the Lord, as this third servant tried to blame the master. Their end is condemnation for their failure to use the life they were given to come to the Lord and learn his ways and then bear the fruit of a life lived in accordance with the truth. They fail because they choose a life of error rather than the way of truth in Jesus Christ. The gift given to them of life was a waste and so it will be taken away.

The master had only entrusted a small amount to the third servant because he had not yet earned the trust of the master. The master was testing the servant to see whether he was trustworthy enough to be given greater responsibility. The same tests were applied to the first two servants and they passed the tests, but the third servant failed miserably. Not only did he fail the test, he would not take responsibility for his own action and so was condemned as well. Had he only failed to trade and make a gain it would not have been as bad, but in his attempt to blame his master for his own inaction he proved himself to be untrustworthy. As such he was cast out of the masters employment.

The Lord expects those who are given gifts to employ them in his service to work with his people so there will be spiritual benefit. His servants have been given gifts so they can use them to build up the church. If we use those gifts we will receive more and greater opportunities to do the Lord’s work. Then we too will receive the ultimate blessing which is to have the Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.” But those who abuse the gifts given to them and fail to employ them will be cast out.

Those who do nothing like the third servant, on the basis that they believe the Lord to be hard and harsh, will suffer loss. When the Lord says, “…to those who have not, even what they have will be taken away…” I believe he is talking about their life. Every person has life and the chance to do something with it. They receive gifts and abilities in this life (ie. like the talents given to the servants) and the opportunity to employ them for the good of the kingdom of God by serving their fellow man and bretheren in the church. If they choose not to do that and turn away from the Lord, they will suffer loss. They effectively have nothing if they do not seek the Lord and even what they have, their life, will be taken away.

Wedding Garments for the Marriage Feast

(Matthew 22:11-14)

The great invitation will go out to many people to come to the marriage feast in the kingdom of heaven. Many will be called but few will be chosen. (Verse 14) There will be a great number who will be called but not everyone will answer the call. I believe that at some point in every person’s life they have the opportunity to come to God. There may be many opportunities, but some will reject the invitation.

In this section of scripture we see a man has come into the wedding feast without a wedding garment. We know that when people attend a wedding they dress appropriate to the occasion. Here we see a man who was not dressed appropriately. The king said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” (Verse 12) The man could not answer but was speechless, and the king had him removed from the wedding feast and cast into the outer darkness.

In like manner no person will enter the kingdom of heaven unless they are dressed appropriately. Unless they have the wedding garment of the kingdom of God they will not be able to enter, and as shown here, even if they could get in they would be cast out.

What are the wedding garments of the kingdom of heaven? The primary wedding garment will be the robe of righteousness. God gives this to man. No man can claim righteousness; it is given as a gift from God. We see the robe of righteousness discussed in several places, especially in Revelation.

Revelation 6:11
“Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer”

Revelation 7:9
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes”

Revelation 7:13-14
“Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

And then in the final words of the New Testament we see this also stated, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:14-15) This is a perfect description of what the parable is saying. Those who are invited shall need to be appropriately dressed in the right wedding garment. That garment is to be washed and made pure in the blood of Jesus Christ. This is the washing and regeneration from sin to be made perfect in Christ Jesus. Those who do not do so will be cast outside with those who choose to follow evil in all and any of its forms.

Look to Jesus and seek his truth. Be washed in his word. Learn what it means to be washed and made pure in the blood of Jesus for that is the path to salvation. Seek his kingdom and learn his ways and you will be able to stand in his kingdom at the end of the days.

The Stone that the Builder Rejected

(Matthew 21:42-46)

Jesus Christ is the stone that the builder rejected. But what does this analogy mean? Why did Jesus make that analogy of the stone that the builder rejected to the priests in Jerusalem?

Jesus often talks about houses in his parables and analogies. He talks about the kingdom of God as a house, the church as a house and likens those who hear his words as being like houses built on rock or sand. The analogy of a house or a building is used often in Jesus ministry. Here too we see the building of a house as the basis of this teaching.

A builder builds all houses and they are put together following a definite process. A builder has a plan, obtains materials, lays out the job on the ground and commences. Before the invention of concrete, the foundations of a house were made using heavy lumps of rock and stone. These were laid on the ground or in trenches and then the rest of the house was built on top of them.

All houses and buildings even today are begun in the same way. They all commence building from a corner and the very first stone laid is the most important. This stone is called the head of the corner or the cornerstone. Why is it the most important stone? The position of this first stone determines where every other part of the structure will lay. If this cornerstone is put in the wrong place, then the rest of the house will be in the wrong place. If this cornerstone is not laid straight and square, the rest of the house will not be straight and square. Choosing a cornerstone then is critical to the quality of the building of the house and ensuring the completed product is what was planned.

Now when we bring this understanding to the teaching of Jesus in this section, we see that he says, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.” In the previous section of this chapter we see that the priests, Pharisees and scribes had rejected Jesus. But Jesus was to be the foundation of the New Covenant. He knew he would be put to death, and this was in God’s will, as he also knew death could not hold him and he would be resurrected. His death issued in the New Covenant and this is the new building of which Jesus is the cornerstone and foundation.

The New Covenant rests solely upon Jesus Christ’s teachings and his sacrifice for us. We enter that building through Jesus Christ as he is the door to life, as he says in John 10:9, “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” How do we enter through Jesus? By being baptised into his death. When we are baptised we go down into the water and symbolically take on the death of Jesus as our own death. By this we die to sin, die to the law and die to the world. When we are lifted up out of the water we are symbolically resurrected with Jesus and are born again as new creations in him. Through faith we accept this death and resurrection as our own so that we may live a new life with him. And when we believe in the power of his death and resurrection, God accepts our faith and imputes righteousness to us, not through anything we have done, but through what Jesus has done.

There is much to be said about this and it will be discussed in great detail when we get to the writings of Paul. If you would like to know more in the mean time, check out the eBooks and articles in the Resource Library on my website menu, especially the eBook on the Foundation Teachings of Christianity. Alternatively take the free Nine Steps to Christianity eCourse, also under the resources library menu tab.

Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard

(Matthew 21:33-41)

The parable of the tenants in the vineyard shows the way that the teachers and preachers of Jesus day abused their position. The priests, Pharisees and scribes were appointed to do a job, just as the tenants in the vineyard were to tend the vineyard and produce fruit. The priests, Pharisees and scribes were to teach the people the ways of God, but they failed in their role. Instead they took these appointed roles and used them to have power over the people.

In Christ we see many places where the Lord teaches that we are a brotherhood. As God shows no partiality, neither should Christians show partiality. There should be no “bosses,” no benefactors in authority over the people. The gifts of ministry given to the church such as apostles, pastors, teachers, prophets and so on were not give so that these people would lord it over the people. These were given for the express purpose of building up God’s people so that all would come to maturity in Christ. We see this in Ephesians 4:11-13.

11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

In this parable in Matthew 21 however we see Jesus talking about the priests, Pharisees and scribes who used their positions wrongfully. They used their position to gain power, authority and advantage over the people. Thus, when God sent his servants, the prophets and teachers, to rectify this situation and teach the people, the priests had them taken away or killed. We see they had John the Baptist beheaded and there were many of the prophets likewise killed or shamefully treated. This is what Jesus meant when speaking of the owner of the vineyard sending servants to receive fruit from the tenants, whom the tenants beat and killed. They were not prepared to give up any of the fruit of the vineyard, just as the priests would not give up their power and authority over the people. The priests refused to accept the authority from God and so removed anyone who stood in their way.

Then the owner of the vineyard sends his son, whom the tenants should respect. Likewise Jesus came as the Messiah and Christ and should have commanded the respect of the priests, Pharisees and scribes as it was evident to all the Jesus was doing the works of God. Instead they were jealous and like the tenants in the vineyard, they had the son killed so they could hold on to their power.

When asked by Jesus what they thought the owner of the vineyard would do, they rightly pointed out that the owner would remove the tenants and let the vineyard out to others who would be obedient to the owner. They were unaware they were talking about themselves and casting judgment upon their own situation. And this is what the Father did. He removed the Old Covenant through the death of Jesus and set up the New Covenant. He removed the power base of the priests and gave the promise and inheritance of the kingdom of God to new tenants, to those who followed Jesus Christ.

Doing the Will of the Father

(Matthew 21:23-27)

What does it mean to be doing the will of the Father? Do you know what the will of the Father is in the first place to be able to do it? Jesus shows us what it means to be doing the will of the Father in this section of scripture.

Doing the will of the Father is about obedience. It is about doing what the Father asks of us. It is not about what we think or say but about obeying His will and His commands. But what is it that God asks of us so that we may do his will? Jesus explains what the Father requires of his people when he said, “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.” (John 6:40) The will of the Father is to believe in Jesus Christ. The Father’s will is not about what we are doing, but being obedient to his word, which is to believe in Jesus and thus receive the free gift of eternal life. That is the will of the Father.

We see also that those who do the Father’s will shall be called the brothers and sisters of Christ. (Matthew 12:50) That is, they will be called the children of God, and as God’s children will receive the inheritance promised.

There are many who will claim to be doing the will of the Father but are not. Jesus showed in Matthew 7:21:23, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” There are some who will come to him on the last day claiming to have been doing the will of God but Jesus will reject them. Their supposed claims will be based upon works rather than on faith. You cannot please God on the basis of works. You cannot enter the kingdom of God by just doing works. You must have faith in Jesus Christ as it is only through faith in Jesus that you will be doing the will of the Father.

Now in this section of Matthew 21 we see Jesus speaking to the temple priests and showing them this message. He raises the situation of a father with two sons whom he asks to go out and work in his vineyard. The first says, “I will not,” but later repents and goes out to work in the vineyard. The second says, “I go sir,” but did not go out. Jesus asks the priest which of these did the father’s will. Clearly it was the first son, for the will of the father was to work in the vineyard. In spite of his first assertion that he would not go out, he repented and went, thus doing the will of the father. As for the second son, he said he would go but did not. On the surface he appeared to be doing what he should, but failed to follow through on his word. This was hypocrisy rather than obedience and was even worse than not going.

Jesus likened the tax collectors and sinners to the first son, for they were opposing the will of the heavenly Father, as the first son opposed his fathers will, but in due course they repented and did do the Father’s will. However he likened the priests of the temple to the second son, for although they held the appearance of religion, just as the second son held the appearance of one ready to go and do the Fathers will, the priests were not doing the will of the Father for they did not believe either the words of John the Baptist or the teachings of Jesus. Their lack of faith showed they were not doing the will of the Father, and worse, they were opposing the Father’s will.

As Jesus said also, even when they saw that the effect of John’s ministry they still did not believe. So they were rejected.

We must learn from this. We must learn not to fall into the trap of trying to seek righteousness by works, but trust in faith to God and seek His righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ. There is no other path to the Kingdom of God but through faith in Jesus Christ. And if we are to be doing the will of the Father, we must believe in Jesus and follow his ways.