Lectionary Reflection for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 21:23-32:

There is no place one might go to know with certainty that Jesus is who he says he is. To know that Jesus is the Son of God requires that we take up his cross and follow him. Having taken up the cross, Christians discover they have no fear of the truth, no matter from where it might come.

Jesus is not through with the chief priests and elders. Indeed he is just getting started. We have seen him use parables to instruct his disciples to understand the character of the kingdom of heaven. Faced with the chief priests and scribes, he uses the parables to help them see the challenge he presents to their rule.

He asks them to consider (“what do you think?”) a man with a vineyard who had two sons. He asked the first son to work in the vineyard, who declined, only to later change his mind and go to the vineyard. The father went to the second son with the same request, and this son readily agreed, but did not go to the vineyard.

Jesus asked the chief priests and elders which did the father’s will. They were, of course, forced to answer that it was the first.

Jesus draws for them the unmistakable conclusion, that they are the second son who has failed to do the father’s will. Therefore, the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before them because the tax collectors and prostitutes believed John’s proclamation that the kingdom had drawn near and recognized that they must repent.

The tax collectors and prostitutes had their lives changed, and so they—but not the chief priests and elders—believed in John.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.