daily biblical sermons


The Pharisees, who made a big show of being super religious, did not do God’s will, because they rejected both John the Baptist and their Messiah
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, the 26th Sunday of the Year, October 01, 2023
Ezekiel 18:25-28, Psalm 24 (25), Philippians 2:1-11, Matthew 21:28-32


Biblical citations are from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“‘What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” And he answered, “I will not”; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots 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 harlots believed in him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe in him’” (Matthew 21:28-32).

 

 

Jesus is talking to the scribes and Pharisees. He asks them which of a man’s two sons did their father’s will. The father told both sons to go and work in his vineyard. The first one said that he would not go, but later repented and went. The second one said he would go, but never went. So which one of these two did his father’s will? Remember he is asking this of the scribes and Pharisees. They immediately answer that the one who said he would not go but afterwards went is the one who did his father’s will.

 

 

Jesus said that this is true. Those who at first refused to enter God’s vineyard but later repented and went are the tax collectors and sinners. They were formerly not interested in God. They were rather interested in money and their lusts and pleasures, and they did not want to repent as John the Baptist was preaching.

 

 

But they listened to his sermons and realized that he was speaking the truth that they should repent and do God’s will. So many of them repented and entered into the kingdom of God.

 

 

The scribes and Pharisees gave the right answer, that it is the tax collectors and sinners who enter the kingdom first, for they are the ones who originally refused to work in the vineyard, but thought over John the Baptist’s invitation to repent and afterward repented and entered.

 

 

And who were those who did not enter the kingdom? They are the ones who said they would work in the vineyard, but never did. Who are they? Jesus tells them that they are the scribes and Pharisees, who make a big show of being super religious, great observers of the law, and teachers of others of the way of righteousness. They make a great show of saying yes, we will go and work in the Lord’s vineyard, but they do not go, because they rejected both John the Baptist and Jesus.

 

 

Jesus was God’s Messiah and John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the people for his coming. Many tax collectors and sinners eventually accepted John’s preaching and repented and so entered the kingdom. But the scribes and Pharisees, who say they are great observers of the law, lovers of God, and his followers, rejected both their Messiah and his precursor, John the Baptist; but the tax collectors and sinners accepted both. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him” (Matthew 21:32).

 

 

Not to believe in John the Baptist is to refuse to enter the kingdom of God. The scribes and Pharisees did not believe in him, but the tax collectors and sinners did. “And even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him” (Matthew 21:32b). That is, even when the scribes and Pharisees saw the tremendous conversion of the tax collectors and sinners, they did not follow their good example, but continued to refuse to enter God’s kingdom – his vineyard.

 

 

What does this mean for us today? Who do we most resemble – the scribes and Pharisees or the tax collectors and sinners? Do we make a big show of our own righteousness, based on our good works, as the scribes and Pharisees did – and yet not truly put our faith in Christ for our justification and salvation?

 

 

Do we think like the scribes and Pharisees that our good works and our keeping the most minute of God’s laws justifies us, or rather do we put our faith in Christ and trust that his death on the cross in vicarious punishment for our sins justifies those who believe in him?

 

 

Do we put first things first – that is, our faith in Christ for our justification, or do we put our confidence in ourselves as being righteous people who deserve to enter heaven because of our good works. If we put our confidence in ourselves for our righteousness, proclaiming ourselves as those who justify themselves by their good works, then we are like the scribes and Pharisees.

 

 

Those who think they can justify themselves by their own good works are mistaken, for justification comes by faith in Christ, because of what he did for us on the cross. But how many of us realize that? How many of us base our life and justification on that faith?

 

 

If we think that we can justify ourselves before God by our good works, we are like the scribes and Pharisees. We are falsely exalting ourselves before God. We fail to recognize the truth that we are sinners who rely on God’s mercy for our justification.

 

 

God sent his Son to us to justify us by our faith in him, because of his vicarious suffering our punishment for our sins for us on the cross.

 

 

So we should not be like the ostentatious Pharisees who were constantly parading their good works around to be seen and praised by others. Jesus tells us that this is not the type of person who will be justified by God, but rather the poor sinner who begs God for mercy will be justified before the Pharisee.

 

 

Those who are justified are those who humble themselves before God and admit that they are poor sinners, incapable of justifying themselves, and so they put their faith in God and ask him to justify them.

 

 

So the Pharisee who went into the temple to praise himself before God for all his good deeds was rejected by God, while a poor sinful tax collector who entered the temple at the same time and begged God to have mercy on him, a sinner, went home justified rather than the Pharisee, as Jesus tells us, “I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other [the Pharisee]; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

 

 

So when we confess our sins, we are forgiven and justified by our faith in Christ, because of his death on the cross in reparation for our sins.

 

 

But then we must do good works, which means we must live a life that is pleasing to God. And how do we know what to do to please God? We know by his biblically revealed moral law. This is how we grow in holiness. If we do not grow in holiness by good works, then we were not truly justified, because we lacked true justifying faith, which always reveals itself in good works.

 

 

We are all sinners, and when we find that we have not fully pleased God by our actions and have made some kind of mistake or committed a sin, we should confess our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation and be cleansed of them, for “if we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

 

Then we are reinstated as justified persons, declared and thereby made righteous by God, covered with his righteousness, which he reckons to us because of our faith in his Son’s death on the cross for our sins.

Archives
» 2023-2024 Year B English
» 2022-2023 Year A English
» 2021-2022 Year C English
» 2020-2021 Year B English
» 2019-2020 Year A English
» 2018-2019 Year C English
» 2017-2018 Year B English
» 2016-2017 Year A English
» 2015-2016 Year C English
» 2014-2015 Year B English
» 2013-2014 Year A English
» 2012-2013 Year C English
» 2011-2012 Year B English
» 2010-2011 Year A English
» 2009-2010 Year C English
» 2008 - 2009 Year B English
To receive my current daily Biblical sermons by email
Subscribe to DailyBiblicalSermons Free:
Enter Your Email Below and Click Subscribe




See my books!

Desert Living

Desert Living

Desert Living

All books are available and searchable on Amazon and Kindle.

Daily Biblical Sermons
© Copyright 2007-2009 Rev. Steven Scherrer, www.DailyBiblicalSermons.com. All are welcome to use the materials on this site, either via spoken or written form. However, if used in written form or retransmitted via internet or email, please INCLUDE the above copyright indication. Thank you.