Summary: As the Passion of Christ draws near, the conflict intensifies with the Jewish religious leaders. We think conflict is always bad, but it is actually inevitable. What is the appropriate response?
Passage: Matthew 21:23-32
Intro: On our trip through Matthew, have you noticed the slowly intensifying conflict?
1. it has not been with Rome, but with the religious leaders of the Jews.
2. began in Sermon on the Mount,
3. over time, popularity of Jesus caused problems, investigations, interrogations.
4. and Jesus has continued to be the truth, and the resistance has increased.
5. and we have seen that believing in what has been revealed increases vision and revelation, and doubting what has been revealed increases blindness and decreases revelation.
6. and now, in Christ’s final week in Jerusalem before his crucifixion, the gloves come off.
7. the conflict reveals the foundational issue concerning God’s revelation
8. and Jesus’ response makes the choice very clear.
I. “Why Should We Believe You?”
1. Jesus was teaching in the Temple Area, perhaps on these steps.
PP Steps near the Temple
2. a very important delegation, chief priests and other leaders interrupt.
3. rude to us, but very normal in that culture.
4. but questions were hostile.
5. they knew they had not given him authority,
6. and since they were the keepers of the Law, the options left were poor.
7. speaking on his own behalf, or perhaps with Satan’s authority.
8. but in the context of increasing conflict, these questions are very challenging.
9. “what gives you the right to teach as though you are speaking on God’s behalf?”
10. “Who made you a prophet?”
11. so Jesus asked them a question that exposed the real issue.
12. vv24-25 very instructive, don’t miss
13. because how they responded to it would dictate if they would receive more revelation
II. God asks: “What is Your Response to My Revelation So Far?”
1. The question about John seems out of place.
2. but John the Baptist was a critical part of God’s revelatory plan.
3. predicted in OT
PP Isaiah 40:3
4. fulfilled in the new, and announced to a delegation sent from these same guys.
PP John 1:23
5. Jesus question exposed their real motivation, as did their ensuing conversation.
6. source is God or man, no 3rd option.
7. became evident that they were not seeking truth,
8. only what fit with their preconceived framework of truth
9. they liked to think it was from God, but somewhere along the line they had replaced God’s truth with a more comfortable truth of their own.
10. they stood in judgment of God’s revelation, and doubted it.
11. their conclusion “We don’t know” demonstrates the emptiness of their truth-seeking system
12. it was convenience based, pragmatic, comfort seeking
13. and ultimately closed the door to more revelation.
PP Carson, “Rejection of revelation already given is indeed a slender basis on which to ask for more”
14. we see the same thing all around us, and sometimes within the church
15. God’s revelation is clear, but we start on a deceptive path by standing in judgment of it, asking for more when we disbelieve what has been given.
16. Listen! God’s truth is by nature radically opposed to the lies we are so comfortable with.
17. so it is a mistake to seek to find “common ground” with the deception of the enemy.
18. we may have “conversations” like the Jewish leaders did here in v25-26
19. but when we begin with disbelieving doubt, we are only swimming in the cesspool of deception, and this will be evidenced in a powerful way.
III. God asks: “How Is It Working for You?
1. NIV breakup of these two is unfortunate.
2. certainly they are tied together thematically, chronologically.
3. parables has three characters.
4. Father is clearly God, first son is the sinful members of the Jewish nation.
5. second son obviously the Jewish leaders.
6. the contrast is sharp and unmistakable.
7. after getting them to agree that the first son is appropriate in his ultimate response, Jesus drives the point home in a shocking way.
8. tax collectors and prostitutes, the most sinful of Jewish culture.
9. they had demonstrated a disobedient heart, but had “repented”
10. meanwhile, the Jewish leaders hid behind outward and verbal obedience, but their actions were disobedient.
11. but who demonstrated change? Whose demonstrated life- transformation?
12. it was those who believed in Johns testimony about Jesus, and then Jesus Himself!
13. v32, “after you saw this”…the mighty change that took place in the lives of the worst of sinners through faith in Jesus Christ, you still refused to repent.
14. and here they are, stuck on the road of disbelief, left out of continuing a deepening revelation, temporarily content with the deception they believe.
15. and in a few short days, they will be clamoring for the crucifixion of God’s Promised Messiah, and cheering His death.