The Father’s Will: answers

Their Answer. The question that Jesus posed is now filled out: the chief priests and elders are required to adjudicate between the two brothers. For “doing the will of” God distinguishes mere profession from active compliance, and so here it suitably distinguishes between the attitudes of the two sons. Jesus’ question thus allows only one reasonable answer, which the Jewish leaders duly provide, but, like David in his response to Nathan’s parable (2 Sam 12:5–7), in so doing they provide Jesus with the ammunition he needs to mount an attack in v. 32 on their own inconsistency. First, however, he spells out its consequences. Continue reading

The Father’s Will: change

When Jesus asks, “What do you think?” (21:28) one has to hear the question in the context of their previous refusal to answer a question about the person and ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus does not allow the Jerusalem leadership’s previous strategic silence to pass into obscurity. Since the new question is about characters in a story, it is indirect, and the leaders cannot avoid answering it. Their own answer will likely expose the weakness of their human authority. Continue reading

The Father’s Will: authority

Commentary. Jesus had left Jerusalem for a brief stay in Bethany. He has now returned to the Temple area where, when he left the day before, the chief priests and scribes were angry with him (cleansing of the Temple, vv.12-17.) Given the deeds of the previous day, it seems only natural that the chief priests and the elders would ask about his credentials and question his authority. Continue reading

The Father’s Will: context

Matthew 21:28–32 28 “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. 30 The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. 32 When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him. Continue reading