Matthew 21:23-32 takes place on Monday of Holy Week. Jesus the day before turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. Now he comes back to the Temple and begins teaching when the chief priests and the elders of Israel come to him. They ask him, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Jesus had no authority from the chief priests or elders or any human authority to drive out the money changers or teach at the Temple. But of course Jesus had a higher authority, which he reveals by the truth of His teaching and the power that works through His words and life.
Jesus turns around and asks them a question. He agrees to answer their question if they will answer his question. He asks them, “The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”
They discussed among themselves how they would answer this question and they realized that there was no way to answer this question and maintain their authority. So they answered, “We do not know.”
Since they were afraid to lose their power and refused to answer Jesus’ question, Jesus did not answer their question. But He did go on and tell several parables.
The the parable of the two sons raises questions about how we respond to the Word of God. Does God’s Word only impact our words but makes no difference to our actions? Does God’s Word have the power to transform our hearts and bring about new actions in our lives, even when our initial words try to move us away from God’s desires?
Are you prepared to receive followers of Jesus who do not know all the right words and in fact will sometimes foul up the words observance?