If my last post failed to make the argument it needed to make, then you only have to continue reading in Chapter 21 of Matthew for it to become extremely clear. Jesus continues to confront the religious leaders, telling them a couple of stories. The first story is about two sons, the first son tells his father that he would not work in the vineyard and then does go to work and the second one tells his father that he would go out and work in the vineyard but does not do it. Jesus asks which son obeyed—and the correct answer is the first son. Then Jesus tells another story about a landowner that leased out the farm to workers. The farmer sent representatives to collect his share but the workers would not give it to them, the workers hurt the representatives. So, the landowner sent his son to collect his share and the workers killed the son. Jesus asks those listening what they would expect the father to do to the workers? Obviously, the landowner would seek the most devastating vengeance.
Jesus then tells them this: “43 I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. 44 Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
The leaders got the message, and they wanted to arrest Jesus but were held back from their plan due to their fear of the crowds who thought highly of him.
James isn’t the only New Testament writer that claims faith without works is dead. Faith is found in the fruit it produces. Paul would attribute good fruit to the working of the Holy Spirit within us. John would talk about our love of God moving us into a deeper devotion through service to other people. I think it is entirely appropriate to hear the teaching of Jesus as a test of God’s patience with people who claim to be His, but fail to live His will. Thus they fail in their witness to the people around them. Let us be people who pursue God and produce the proper fruit, so that we may hold onto the Kingdom of God!
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.