UNTIL WE’RE ABLE TO MEET AT CHURCH AGAIN, THE GOSPEL READING FOR THE COMING SUNDAY AND SOME QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT WILL BE POSTED EVERY WEDNESDAY. WE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOUR OWN ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS. PLEASE EMAIL THEM TO:
ALL COMMENTS WILL BE COMPILED (ANONYMOUSLY) AND ADDED TO THE POSTING ON SATURDAY. WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL JOIN THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THE GOSPEL READING EACH WEEK.
BIBLE STUDY FOR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2020
PRAYER: Holy Father, by the power of your Holy Spirit, prepare our hearts and minds to receive all that You want us to learn. As we read your word, shine on us the light of your truth. May we gain a deeper understanding of who You are and what your will is in each of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
CONTEXT: Between this week’s Gospel reading and last week’s, there is a gathering storm of controversy over Jesus’ authority. Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph on Palm Sunday, and promptly overturns the tables of the money-changers in the temple. The crowds are with Jesus, and the chief priests and elders are feeling threatened. This week’s reading picks up there, with the religious leaders questioning Jesus’ authority.
READING: MATTHEW 21:23-32
The Authority of Jesus Questioned
23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 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 after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
Why do you think the chief priests and elders were so threatened by Jesus and yet so sure they could trip Him up with their questions?
Why do you think Jesus responded with his own question rather than simply answering theirs? (vs 24-25)
n what ways did the tax collectors and prostitutes personify the “first” son?In what ways did the chief priests and elders personify the “second” son? (vs 28-30)
It is probable that we can all see ourselves in both sons.When have you behaved like “the first son”? How about “the second son”?What temptations make it hard for you to walk the walk, and not simply talk the talk?
What do you make of the fact that Jesus says only that the prostitutes and tax collectors are going into the kingdom of God the religious leaders? (v. 31) He doesn’t say they won’t be going into the kingdom , and there is no mention of “fire” or “gnashing of teeth”. How is this a hopeful message for us all?
Where did the chief priests’ and elders’ authority come from?Where did Jesus’ authority come from?
How does this reading illustrate and difference between authority and power, and why is that difference so important for us to remember?