Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. [Matthew 21:31-32 ESV]
Can you imagine the reactions of the religious leaders?
Jesus speaks to them of hated tax collectors and prostitutes.
And says that they would go into the kingdom of God before them.
In the parable he likens them to people who merely give lip service to God.
And the 'sinners' as those who have a change of mind and repent.
In doing so he reveals the heart of God toward the hearts of men.
Jesus chides them for having hard hearts toward those repenting in baptism.
In truth their hearts should have been softened at the sight of repentance.
He speaks to them, and to us, about going past lip service and loving the unlovable.
And such is the challenge before us today.
Loving hurting souls who appear so unlovable.
Caring for those who have been abused and mistreated.
Embracing people who are so different than we are.
The opportunity is before us to either be like Jesus or religious leaders.
The challenge is to be the embodiment of a different sort of person.
A person whose heart breaks when others suffer.
A person who, with the angels, rejoice when people repent.
A person who goes past mere lip service and compassionately does the will of our Father.
Open my eyes to those who are hurting Lord. Help me to pray for and encourage them.
... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.