You might have heard the Kingdom of God referred to as the “upside down kingdom” before. Basically, this statement means that the Kingdom of God goes against what we would normally expect. The passage we are looking at today shows us an example of this.
In verses 28-32, Jesus is sharing a parable about a father who asked his two sons to do something; one son said he would not do what his father asked, but actually ended up doing what his father asked in the end; the other said he would, but ended up NOT doing what his father asked. The crowd easily got the answer to Jesus’ question about who the father was more pleased with—the son who actually did what the father asked, of course! But then Jesus dropped the bomb—this same principal applies to those who were considered “sinners” by the Pharisees being forgiven by God. Jesus is telling them that the tax collectors and prostitutes, two of the most despised people groups of the day, were more likely to enter into the Kingdom because they believed in Jesus than the religious leaders who were outwardly righteous but inwardly just as sinful as everyone else.
Verses 33-44 mainly show us two things: (1) that Jesus is the Son of God and (2) that through Christ and because of the hardness of Jewish hearts, God had come to save Gentiles as well as Jews. The servants that the master sent most likely refer to the prophets that God sent to the Jewish people, and even specifically to John the Baptist who had come to prepare the way of Jesus. They did not listen to the servants, and killed the son. He was revealing the blindness of the Jewish leaders.
How does this apply to us?
The forgiveness that God gives sinners can be confusing. Many times we might question how God could forgive people for committing truly heinous sins. Other times, we might struggle with accepting forgiveness for sins that we struggle with (i.e. pornography use, adultery, anger, pride, etc.). In what ways do you struggle to accept God’s forgiveness? Reflect on the gospel today: that you have been saved by GRACE, and nothing else! (Ephesians 2:8-9) It can be very easy for us to forget that our standing before God is no better on our good days than it is worse on our bad ones. Our standing before God is ONLY a result of the grace of God, and nothing that we have done to earn God’s favor.
Be encouraged in the gospel, that you have been saved by grace for good works, not by good works.
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice