Proper 21, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 21:23-32
Jesus’ journey takes him to the temple for the last time and stays there. During these next three chapters we see Jesus teaching on a variety of topics, not because he set out to do so, but because the high priests, elders and Pharisees are trying to trap him by asking tricky questions and backing him into a corner. As we read these stories, we know that Jesus was not going to play that game.
Jesus is seen by others as having the authority to heal and teach, but in today’s lesson the chief priests and elders question this authority. By answering their question with a question about John the Baptist, Jesus is not stalling them, but rather evoking the prophets that have come before him and identifying himself and John the Baptist with the prophets of the past. When the chief priests and elders respond, they respond not from what they know to be true, but rather from a place of political maneuvering. To save themselves, they say they do not know.
So Jesus presents them with a parable, a story that teaches us about a truth. This is a parable about doing the work God has given us to do, not just saying we are going to do it, but going and doing the work, no matter where we are on our own journey or about what we may or may not have done in the past. God wants us out in the world, doing what we are called to do. As people of God we are to witness, to name our beliefs and be a worker in the field.