#0055 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the Muslims and gays are entering the Kingdom ahead of you.”

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Scripture passage for today…

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”

Matt. 21: 28-32 (NIV)

In this scripture Jesus is addressing the Pharisees. The time is one week before what we know as Easter Sunday and four days before he gets taken by the Pharisees. The setting is in the temple at Jerusalem and its right during the Feast of the Passover; so the place is crawling with religious pilgrims who’ve traveled there to participate in the rituals affiliated with that feast. It’s a big deal. This is one parable in a whole series of other parables Jesus has been expounding which are designed to illustrate the message of the Kingdom.  I Like the way Jesus opens here—“What do you think?—He’s asking for their feedback. In doing this He is in a way, taking them off guard and putting them in a defensive position. In this parable Jesus is pointing out the hypocrisy in the way they conduct themselves. Let’s remember that the Pharisees were the religious authorities of His time and the Evangelicals of our time are very much cut from the same cloth as these Pharisees. If we were to sum up the lesson of this fable in a short phrase it might be: talk is cheap. People can say they’re going to do something but unless they actually do that thing their promises or their claims are meaningless; or so says Jesus. In our link above: Water donations run dry in Flint, no action from Governor Snyder we are sitting 4 days after Governor Snyder has apologized to the City of Flint for the water problems they are having; and still they’ve seen no relief efforts put forth by him. Snyder’s problem, just like the big-talking son in Jesus’s parable, is that they are both preoccupied by other matters. Their focus is on something else. The son’s focus is on some un-named matter that keeps him from going out to work in the vineyard; but the fruit of this son’s neglect and broken promise is noticed by Jesus. Snyder is like this son.

Jesus also points to another son whom the man asks to work in the vineyard and he answers forthrightly that he will not work there; but then he changes his mind and goes and works anyway. Jesus compares this son to the tax collectors and the prostitutes and proclaims that these are those who are destined to get into the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of the Pharisees (self-righteous conservatist types). Whenever Jesus is talking about the Kingdom, He’s not talking about heaven per se, He’s talking about a socio-political system; how it operates and how its constituency interacts. In the case of Governor Snyder of Michigan, he’s operating under a popular conservatist imperative—that of balancing the budget. In his efforts to do this, people have gotten left behind and trodden underfoot. What’s more; when it becomes evident that something bad is happening as a result of his bad policy or decision there doesn’t seem to be a backup plan for fixing anything. When it comes to his plans and policy: Failure is not an option so dodging or skirting blame quickly becomes the order of the day. This is where we are now in Flint. Please check out the second link: Michael Moore: Arrest Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the interview with Michael Moore to get a more accurate if not more emotional perspective on this Flint crisis. Moore was born and raised in Flint and his claim to fame came with his breakout documentary film: Roger and Me; which delves into the collapse of the GM plant in Flint. In the wake of that shocking development, 70,000 people lost their jobs with GM and the population of the city was cut in half.

The other lesson this parable teaches us is; evidently there are others—who are not conservatist Christians —that are destined to get involved in the Kingdom. Let’s consider this reference for a second; why do you suppose Jesus used the tax collectors and prostitutes for examples to the Pharisees? Do you suppose it was because these people exemplified the lowest of undesirables of the Hebrew society?  They were—and for this reason Jesus used them for shock value. With this in mind, who would you say were the epitome of undesirables (in the eyes of conservatist, that is) in our U.S. society? LBGTs; Muslims, liberals, illegal Hispanics, the unemployed, 99%ers, black lives (who matter), other sundry un-lovelies of every ilk and sort imaginable; the list goes on and on. Are you included in any of these categories? If so—congratulations—you are destined to get into the Kingdom ahead of those with conservatist views: those who believe in a God who thinks and behaves like they do; who will feel safer when a wall gets built across our southern U.S. border and Muslims are banned from entering their country altogether and who would like to see The Donald or Ted Cruz as our next president.

TBC: Wednesday, January 13, 2015

A correction is needed for the last posting. At the end of it I made this assertion: “In the past year there have been 30,000 gun related deaths in the US.” The actual number is 13,346 deaths. I am going back to edit that posting now.

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