ESV - 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
Notes For Verse 28 a [A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard] This illustrates that the despised classes -- the sinners -- will be saved before the religious and self-righteous chief priests and elders (Mt. 21:23,31). Notes For Verse 29 a [I will not: but afterward he repented, and went] This illustrates sinners who first reject truth and then repent and do the will of God (Mt. 21:31). Notes For Verse 30 a [I go, sir: and went not] This illustrates the hypocrites, the self-righteous Pharisees who promised God all and did nothing for Him (Mt. 21:31). Notes For Verse 31 a [That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you] This is the point illustrated by the parable of Mt. 21:28-30 Note: the Bible uses "parable" in the widest sense of the term, wherein there is practically no difference between the parable and simile. This broad usage includes: simple comparison (Mt. 24:31-32) obscure similitude or dark saying (Mt. 15:11-15; Ps. 78:2; Prov. 1:6) simple allegory (Mt. 13); a maxim or wise sentence (1Ki. 4:32); a discourse (Job 27:1; 29:1); an adage (Lk. 4:23; 6:39); and a type (Heb. 9:9; 11:19).
Jesus was addressing pious leaders of his day and though they knew the precepts of God they fell short in not only living by his precepts they were unwilling to confess their short comings. In other words these leaders refused to confess their sin(s). The tax-collectors and prostitutes not only heard what Jesus had to say they were willing to act on it through confession and repentance.
Harlot or publican, all are aware what they are doing is evil. They are aware that it results into them heading to hell where there is everlasting suffering and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50). They do not pretend in any way of who they are and society knows about them. They are so but are well aware that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). People of this nature readily embrace the gospel of Salvation of Jesus Christ because they do understand the way to improve themselves and to heaven is by Christ. The gospel is sweet to them to hear. They love it, but just lack the energy to change over because their time is yet not. Yet if the time is yet not, their no is meant for no. If you read from Matthew 21:28 onwards Jesus gave a parable of two sons. One indicated that he would obey if commanded by the father. The second one indicated that he would not obey. Despite having indicated to obey, the first son did not act as said. The second though, despite having indicated not to obey, he must have meditated upon it thereafter and revisited his decision. A potential evil person will indicate they are evil and therefore do not need to embrace the gospel of Christ because they believe they can’t be accepted. For they are aware that their actions are evil and only lead to hell. But when they are given time to ponder on it, they are quick to revisit their decisions because they have nowhere to hide. For society already knows them as evil. They have a feeling that they are already judged. So when they get the opportunity to understand God loves them despite society judging them harshly, they easily get the energy to change over. Yet a seemingly good person simply gives a picture of a good one. They perceive themselves as good and therefore are in no need of any help. An Evangelist will fear them by their appearance and can’t easily take a step to evangelize to them because he perceives them to be just fine with God. Such a people give the impression that they love God. They give a view to the public that they are living a life of honor before God. Yet when in dark, they have second wives, they are making evil riches and eating evil money. Society doesn't judge them harshly because they usually give financial help to society. They are not easily approachable, for they are fenced off the rest of the society. Such people are religious and they do attend Church regularly. Yet this is simply the image that society has of them. They have the appearance of them that they are okay because they are well appealing to society, but the spiritual man is suffering and before God, there is no credit to them. There is almost nothing on their heavenly account. For they only give the picture that they are of and for God and do give the picture of obedience to God but are not. Jesus did speak of such tendencies. (Matthew 23:23-28), (Luke 18:9-14). Jesus talks of a people who give the impression of covert righteousness, yet they are not. For God is not moved by how we act, but the intent of our action. Do we do it for God or for personal appraisal? For it is not about singing the name of the Lord, but how we love Him, how we relate with Him is what counts (Matthew 7:21). Jesus asks; why do you call me Lord, Lord when you do not keep my commandments (Luke 6:46). God loves us to do good deeds but with intentions to glorify Him and to be rewarded by Him. For people only appreciate, it is God to reward (Hebrews 11:6). When Jesus met with the harlots and the tax collectors, people who had had self righteousness would complain. Jesus answered them; it is the sick who need a doctor, not those who are well (Luke 5:31). Well Jesus did not mean that the rest never needed Him except the harlots and the publicans, but that those who had perceived themselves to have no need of Him had had no ground to judge those who came to Christ for spiritual healing. For all; rich and poor need Jesus in squarely same measures.
The context in Matt. 21 is about their "nature" and Jesus can see through their "hearts". The key difference between them and the chief priests and Pharisees are found in the examples and comments Jesus gave: 1. Repentance= Matt:21:29 "He answered... I will not: but afterward he repented, and went". See also v-32. 2. Belief = Matt.21:32 "For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him:" 3. Fruits= Matt:21:43 "..,the fruits thereof." They "will go before them" because Jesus knew that it will be "easier" for publicans and harlots to believe, repent and express good "fruits" than the chief priests and Pharisees who even "sought to lay hands on him" (Matt. 21:45-46). It is about "timetable" for salvation. Each one at their own time already known to God.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.