Prostitutes Before You – Gospel in Life

Prostitutes Before You

Tim Keller |  March 11, 2001

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  • Repentance
  • Salvation
  • God's Love
Matthew 21:28-39
RS 127-2

A closer look at Matthew 21:28–39

When you dive into what Jesus taught about the meaning of his death, you uncover some deep truths about us, people, and how we can solve our big problems. Jesus told stories, or parables, that can help us understand. He started off with a shocking statement that people who were seen as bad by society, like tax collectors and prostitutes, would get into heaven before some religious leaders. His stories can help us see that all of us have a shared problem, that sometimes we try to solve it the wrong way, and what the right way really is.

1. The problem we all share, as seen in the story of the tenant farmers

This story tells us that we often want to be in control of everything, instead of looking after what we have as if we’re caring for someone else’s property. We struggle to remember that everything we have is a gift, not something we’re owed. This causes a clash between our wish to own everything and the truth that we’re just caretakers. The story doesn’t tell us how to solve this problem, though.

2. The counterfeit solution we should avoid, as seen in the story of the attacked messengers

Jesus says that just following religious rules or being morally good doesn’t fix our broken relationship with God. In fact, it can make us hostile towards the truth and the good news of Jesus. If we think God owes us something because we’re good, we can start to feel superior to others, which just makes our problem worse. The real solution is to remember we’re caretakers, not owners, and fully accept God’s grace.

3. The real solution, as seen in the story of the two sons

The story of the two sons shows us that turning back to God, or repentance, matters more to Him than anything we’ve done in the past or any good deeds. It highlights our human problem of resisting God’s grace and the need to surrender to the radical grace Jesus offers. The way to really change our hearts is to turn away from our lack of trust in God. This message is often easier to understand for people who are outcasts in society than for religious leaders.

4. The ultimate solution, as seen in the story of the last messenger

This story shows us how God never stops trying to have a relationship with us, even if it means He might get hurt. It also emphasizes the life-changing power of Jesus’ death on the cross, which brings us back to God and helps us deeply understand His love and grace. True repentance, which comes from a humble hope and a deep feeling of safety, is our response to God’s grace. This leads to a life lived depending on God and under the light of His intense, unconditional love.



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