Thursday, October 02, 2014

A kingdom where nationality means nothing

Passport to Heaven
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 21:33-46

TO CHEW ON: " 'Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.' " Matthew 21:43

In this parable, Jesus hearkens back to the Vineyard Song of Isaiah (Isaiah 45:1-7 - yesterday's reading). I can just see the chief priests and elders—Jesus' audience—hanging on every word, growing more outraged with every unfairness of those wicked vinedressers. They are so into it, when Jesus asks," '…when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to these vinedressers?' " they jump right in with " 'He will destroy those wicked men miserably and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.' " Matthew 21:40,41.

Snap! Caught in the trap of Jesus' illustration, they utter their own fate. For now Jesus makes it clear: " ' The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.' "

He is saying their birth advantage as Jews has been squandered by rejecting Him as the cornerstone of God's plan to save people. Now that privilege will be given to another "nation"
"…a term signifying a new people (Jew and Gentile) who will render to God the appropriate fruit" - J. Lyle Story, commentary on Matthew, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1330.

Paul reiterates this when he confronts the envious Jews in Antioch: " ' It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, beheld, we turn to the Gentiles' " Acts 13:46.

There is a warning for us in this. We may be a part of a believing family as far back as we can see on the family tree. But that legacy doesn't guarantee us citizenship in the "nation" of believers any more than being a Jewish guaranteed it for the people of Jesus' day. Only one thing does: a personal decision to put our faith in Jesus for salvation.

"For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." - John 1:12


PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for including all nations in the Kingdom of God. Help me to do my part to spread the word that all are welcome in it. Amen.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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