Monday, January 23, 2012

Matthew 21:45, They Perceived

The Triumphal Entry marks a turning point in Jesus' ministry, and his actions appear more provocative to Jerusalem's religious leaders. After this, they become hell-bent on destroying Jesus.

After clearing the temple, the annoyed priests and elders challenge Jesus' authority. Completely blind to the works [of the Father] Jesus performs in the temple after clearing it (Matt 21:14-15), they try to trap him diplomatically. The ensuing dialog ends with Jesus speaking parables against the priests and Pharisees.

Back in Matthew 13, Jesus said, "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." He fulfilled Isaiah 6:9-10 and darkened the religious leaders with his teaching.

But now his teaching has changed with his actions. Consider verse 45, "When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them." Somewhere inside their self-centered brains Jesus finally unlocked the capability to discern his meaning. The leaders knew Jesus was calling them the disobedient, lazy son and the belligerent, murderous tenants. Though they did not perceive until Jesus finished his parables, for they spoke judgment on themselves, "They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons”" [Matt 21:41].

And the final irony is they still would not listen. Their ears and minds were finally opened and they still rejected Jesus, trying to arrest him [v46]. Rather, they should have listened to the Parable of the Two Sons and repented, "And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe [John]" [Matt 21:32]. Instead they confirmed the parables and remained hard-hearted.

May our generation heed the voice of God and turn to His Son for repentance. May we each hear and perceive, see and follow the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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