“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” – Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT)
So, it’s probably a Tuesday morning, a fig tree gets withered, the disciples are told about having the faith to throw a mountain into the sea, and Jesus had just returned to THE temple to teach. Then, a question arises… “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”. Now the guys asking this are those wacky Pharisees, Sadducees, (and let’s throw in the Scribes for good measure.) Now, if I were Jesus, I would have something really ‘out of the box’ for them, but I am not He (though still strive to be.) What He is going to ask is really gonna butter their biscuits. It starts with this question, “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?” (Matt 21:25a)
Well, apparently they didn’t see that coming, so “They talked it over among themselves. ‘If we say it was from heaven, He will ask us why we didn’t believe John. But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.'” (Matt 21:25b-26) They go to Jesus and give Him the “play it safe” answer, “I don’t know” and since they couldn’t figure out how to choose one answer over the other, Jesus pretty much tells them He doesn’t owe them an answer either but He does tell a parable. So open your Bible and turn to Matthew 21:28-32…
It’s always about choice. The verse I opened with today from Deuteronomy clearly defines the way God gives us a choice – they will always come in 2’s. For the Old Testament folks, it was pretty clear it was either life or death, but as time went along, religious leaders found a way to blur the lines and made choice a burden. Jesus came to lift that burden from people and get them back into the choice of 2’s. Build your house on sand or Rock, travel a wide road or a narrow one, and if you have a vineyard ask your two sons to go out and work the fields.
Now, you construction guys understand that putting a foundation on sand ain’t a good idea, and for those who drive those superhighways all the time, you understand the chaos that happens when you travel on them. However, when these two sons are asked to work the vineyard we see something a bit more dangerous…the selfishness of religion. Go ahead, you can say “HUH?” So, let’s take this a step further…
The first son is asked, by the father, to go work in the vineyard. His reply is positive but his action is negative. If we take the position that the vineyard is the nation of Israel and the first son is a representation of those wacky Pharisees, we can see that Jesus is pointing out that the Pharisees and their gang of not-so-merry men aren’t doing what they were called to do and that is the will of YHVH. When the second son is asked the same thing, his reply is negative but his action is positive. If you take the position that you’re the second son, hopefully you see that the repented heart did the will of The Father and went out into the vineyard. This brings me to The Book of James.
In the 2nd chapter of James (verses 1-7) we see James pointing out the sin of partiality. Now Jesus needed to point out to the Pharisees that they were showing the Nation of Israel partiality when it came to Kingdom principles, “At least I am not like this sinner” and that mentality kept them from extending grace to their own people. But after the church age gets it start, church leaders themselves forgot that they were “the second son” and that mentality kept them from extending grace to their own people.
The selfishness of religion can do a dangerous thing in us if we’re not careful with what God has given us. We’re not allowed, and we were never allowed for that matter, to selfishly hold on to grace. Jesus came to all those second sons, showed them grace, and then told the Pharisees they those they looked down on will see heaven before they do. James had to remind people that just because they think themselves fancy enough doesn’t mean they’re good enough for a front row seat. We weren’t saved just so we could show it off, far from it. We’ve been saved because He first loved us and His desire is for us to be with Him. I don’t see it written anywhere that we get to choose who gets in or who stays out. Remember this…. “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’ you are doing well” (James 2:8) Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “I may have got over the problems of sin and the flesh, and yet still be a confirmed individualist. I want holiness and victory and fruitfulness for myself personally and apart, albeit from the purest motives. But such an attitude ignores the Body, and so cannot provide God with satisfaction.” —Watchman Nee
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!” Psalm 40:16