Monday, December 14, 2009

Daily - 12/14/09

Matthew 21:28-32

28 "What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'

29 He said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards he changed his mind and went.

30 The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go.

31 Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.

32 When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.


Sometimes I read parables and get them right away, and sometimes I don't. In this passage I could see Christ drawing a difference between those who hear and act on his words (the first son), vs. those who don't (the second).

But I was missing the larger context of what was going on. This is Jesus talking to the chief priests and elders, the day after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He has trashed the tables of the money changers and those selling doves, and publicly healed the blind and lame. Immediately before, the priests and elders have challenged his authority to do such work in the temple. Christ responds with by convicting Israel, and announcing the opening of the Kingdom to the Gentiles.

I didn't come up with that on my own. Some old smart guys helped me a bit. Link: Catena Aurea -- Matthew 21

Jerome: Thus much prefaced, the Lord brings forward a parable, to convict them of their irreligion, and shew them that the kingdom of God should be transferred to the Gentiles.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For the Gentiles from the beginning leaving God and his righteousness, and going over to idols and sins, seem to make answer in their thoughts, We will not do the righteousness of God.

Jerome: But when, at the coming of the Saviour, the Gentile people, having done penitence, laboured in God’s vineyard, and atoned by their labour for the obstinacy of their refusal, this is what is said, “But afterward he repented, and went.” The second son is the Jewish people who made answer to Moses, “All that the Lord hath said unto us we will do.” [Ex 24:3]

Pseudo-Chrys.: But afterwards turning their backs, they lied unto God, according to that in the Psalms, “The sons of the strangers have lied unto me.” [Ps 18:44] This is what is said, “But he went not.” The Lord accordingly asks “which of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first.” See how they have first sentence upon themselves, saying, that the elder son, that is, the Gentile people, did the will of his father. For it is better not to promise righteousness before God, and to do it, than to promise, and to fail.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord abundantly confirms their decision, [p. 726] whence it follows, “Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto yon, that the publicans and harlots shall go before you in the kingdom of God;” as much as to say, Not only the Gentiles are before you, but even the publicans and the harlots.

Yet the kingdom of God may be understood of the Gentiles, or of the present Church, in which the Gentiles go before the Jews, because they were more ready to believe.

Origen: Notwithstanding, the Jews are not shut out that they should never enter into the kingdom of God; but, “when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered in, then all Israel shall be saved.”