Summary: Have you "said no" to God in something He has made plain to you that He wants? It isn’t too late. Have you "said yes," and not followed through? It’s not too late to regroup.
The greatest thing God will give you is your freedom in Jesus Christ. It’s a promise from the Father, and His promises don’t wither or fade - they last forever!
This morning’s text is all about God’s will, and people that obey, or don’t. That is a simple truth everyone can understand. That’s what Jesus wanted to do - to make His teaching clear enough for all.
Here are two simple truths Jesus meant for us NOT to miss…
Truth #1: TAKING CARE OF GOD’S BUSINESS
MEANS OBEYING HIS WILL
23When 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, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
Jesus was often challenged by his critics. The Pharisees and Sadducees weren’t dumb; they were tough legalists and street-smart politicians. Jesus had asked them about John the Baptist and whether his ministry was from God or not. When they calculated their answer, they knew the crowd wouldn’t tolerate a "no" answer, because John the Baptist was a favorite. They couldn’t risk a riot. But, if they said "yes" they would be attributing heavenly origin to Jesus’ ministry also, because the Baptist had held Jesus up as the Messiah. So they took the expedient way out. People with a vested interest generally do that!
Calculating is closely-related to self-justification. The Pharisees were attempting to trap Jesus. If they could get Him to disclose His authority, they could manipulate the debate, discredit Jesus, and maintain their position as "Dr. Religious Person." The problem was they were much more concerned with their own comfort level than doing God’s will.
John Peter Zenger was a newspaper publisher in New York. He once printed a story on a local election that was fixed by crooked politicians. For this he was thrown into jail. A trial jury refused to convict him. For this the jury was thrown in jail.
Eventually, they were released when the whole story came out. How could this happen in America? The time was 1733. It was this case that was cited when the First Amendment (free speech) was added to the Bill of Rights.
For us it’s wise to note that you can never hear from Heaven until you’re honest enough to accept your place as God’s servant, ready to obey. Obedience is often difficult - it just takes doing what God has already made plain.
A Little-Leaguer said to his teammate: "What do you do when the coach signals you to steal third, and your mom signals you to stay on second?" It’s like that whenever the world wants you to do one thing and God has expressly said the opposite.
Just like the Pharisees, you and I could never outsmart God; we’re under-qualified for the job. And there’s no reason to even try. He is waiting at all times to include us in His kingdom plans. The greatest freedom you can know is forgetting about your position, your comfort level, and your rights....and just doing His will.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33) That is difficult – at best! When my children were young there were plenty of times that I would direct them to do something…homework, yard work, taking a bath, brushing their teeth or just coming to the table for dinner…and I would get the whining question, why?
It was no different for God and His children. The Exodus passage (17:1-7) which we read earlier is a clear example – God sent Moses to get the nation out from under the bondage of Pharaoh, and, once free, after 400 years of being slaves, all they could do was complain about the menu of manna.
God’s children were more into complaining than obeying, but that is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ…following means obedience to His will, not complaining about the way He takes care of you.
Truth #2: WHEN CONFRONTED WITH TRUTH WE MUST CHANGE
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. MATTHEW 21:28-32