By Dave Snyder
Scripture: Matthew 21:23-39 CSB
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority?”
Jesus answered them, “I will also ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did John’s baptism come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”
They discussed it among themselves, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we’re afraid of the crowd, because everyone considers John to be a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
And he said to them,“Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
“What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go work in the vineyard today.’
“He answered, ‘I don’t want to,’ but later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he answered, but he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They said, “The first.”
Jesus said to them,“Truly I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.
“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the time came to harvest fruit, he sent his servants to the farmers to collect his fruit. The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other servants, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
“But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
Devotion: Jesus identifies with our struggles.
As the week continued, Jesus experienced conspiracies of every kind. Upon His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the religious leaders plotted to get rid of Him. Their desire for removal caused them to stoop below their standards and join forces with Rome and the Herodians. In addition, they partnered with the Sadducees, who were considered to be religious liberals; denying both the resurrection and angels.
In today’s reading, you will notice how Jesus faced challenges by these groups. Subjects such as marriage in heaven, taxes owed to Caesar, and the issue of His authority were brought to question. He was misheard, misled, and manipulated in many ways. Take some time and read the many conversations He carried.
Have you ever experienced unnecessary attack? Have your motives ever been questioned? Have you ever lost trust in people you know?
We have this day in passion week to remind us of the real struggles Jesus faced before the cross. He can relate to our circumstances in life. He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and temptations (Hebrews 4:15). He is able to identify with our stress and daily dramas.
Find joy in the way your Savior victoriously handled all of these challenges. Trust Him with your life in every way, which includes what will happen today.
Spend some time in prayer today, thanking Him for His authority and truth. Praise Him for overcoming all obstacles before the cross.
Dave is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Pensacola. He holds an M.Div. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Southeastern Seminary. Dave has served churches in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.