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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week, Tuesday - What is Obedience?


One of Jesus' parables from the Gospel of Matthew tells about a father who needed some help in his vineyard. He went to his first son. He said, "Son, go, work today in my vineyard." The son answered, "I will not." Afterward, the first son regretted what he said and went to work as his father asked.

The father also went to his second son and said the same thing. The second son said, "I go, sir." But he did not go.

Jesus asked his listeners, the chief priests and elders, which was the obedient son.

I'm thinking maybe at this point the elders and priests looked at each other, shifted from one foot to the other, and stammered a little.

You see Jesus had, time after time, tripped them up with their own words. Just before Jesus told this parable, he had challenged them by asking where John the Baptist's authority came from. They knew they couldn't say heaven, because if they did they'd have to acknowledge what John said was true--and John had said Jesus was the Messiah.

Now Jesus wanted to know which son was The answer was so obvious; what else could they say but that it was the first son who at first refused to obey his father?

Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him." (Matthew 21: End of 31 - 32.)

Some time ago I had a choice to obey God or not. Two paths were set before me. I knew which way God wanted me to go. At first I said no, but later relented and did what I knew he wanted. Kicking and screaming all the way. It wasn't long before I understood God's plan, and rejoiced that I had done what He wanted.

I felt pretty bad about having made such a fuss, but then God pointed out some others who had kicked up a fuss over following what He wanted. Remember Moses? I mean, how much more definite can you get than the Voice of God coming from a burning bush? And Jonah--I'm not sure I wanted to compare myself to Jonah, but there it was in black and white. To cap things off, Jesus Himself protested over what God wanted from Him. Three times He begged not to have to go to the cross.

The point was, Jesus did go. And Jonah did go. And Moses. And me.

Have you had a similar experience?