By Elsha Pacantara
4th year, A.B. Christian Education
Theme Sentence: Faith must be expressed both in words and in deeds
Let me share to you a story. There was a girl who had encountered difficulty during her high school days. Back then, she had a classmate who never went to church because he didn’t believe in God. He kept telling her that there was no God and that He was not really true. But the girl proved him wrong by citing Bible verses. Every day the girl prepared a bible verse for her classmate. At that time, even though his classmate was like a hard rock, the girl didn’t give up on him. This strengthened her faith to God that her classmate would definitely change his mind that there is God. She was challenged and continuously prayed for him every day. The girl didn’t expect anything from her classmate but she continuously held on to God that the boy would believe that God exists. She believed that God was using her as an instrument for her classmate to know God. Until one day, the girl received the good news that someone saw her boy classmate attends Sunday worship and has become active in church activities. When the girl heard the news, she was very happy and thankful to God. The girl continually shares God’s words to all she meets and she prays for them as well. This shows faith accompanied with words and deeds. Now my question to all of us is: Is our faith expressed both in words and in deeds like the girl in the story?
Problem in the Bible
In the text, we can see the chief priests and the elders of the church questioning Jesus’ authority. Jesus answered them with an unrelated question that exposed their real motives.Jesus questioned them about the baptism of John which they refused to answer instead content him by saying ‘we don’t know’. When I was reading the text, I have these questions in mind, why did the priests and the elders of the people questioned Jesus’ authority? What are their motives in questioning Him? In v.23, Jesus taught with authority and the crowd sensed it. God has given him all authority including teaching. In Jesus’ world, however, people always look for outward signs of authority like education, title, position, or connections.Jesus doesn’t have all these signs. It is for this reason that thechief priest and the elders of the people questioned Jesus. For them they are the only ones who have the authority to teach and the one who are primarily responsible for activities in the temple. In short, the priest and the elders of the peoplebelieve that they know better what they are teaching and look down at Jesus. They see him a nuisance who does not known what his saying. In v. 24, Jesus outwitted them. Instead of answering them directly He made a challenging move by questioning them as well. It’s like Jesus did an agreement with them to make things clear. In v. 25, Jesus mentioned the baptism of John or known as the prophet of God who is the bearer of God’s word but was rejected and was killed by the people’s leader.Therefore, those who reject John also reject Jesus. Their question on Jesus authority is restated as they also question John’s authority because they did not believe on him.In v. 27, When they were questioned by Jesus and about to answer they presented it by saying we don’t know’. Their answer was very safe for they were afraid to take a risk.Their attempt to trap Jesus by questioning his authority resulted in their self-condemnation. Jesus sensed their motives and by His question left them in a compromising situation. Note here also that in this instance Jesus continued to treat them with kindness.
Apparently, parables that follow are all directly addressed to the chief priests and to the elders of people as a continuation of Jesus’ response to their challenge. In the parable of the two sons, a Father requested his two sons to go work in their vineyard. The first son said “I will not, but later changed his mind and went. And the second son said yes but didn’t go. The first son who refused at first but later on went to the vineyardrepresents the tax collectors and the prostitutes who changed their mind and accepted God’s message. These are also the ordinary people and outcast in the community who are despised and not being valued. They received the kingdom of God because they believed and took the stand to obey and receive the message and repent. On the other hand, the second son who said “I will go sir, but did not go” was actually the Pharisees and Sadducees or the chief priests. They studied and know the law but their hearts were hardened and refused to accept God.They are the people of Israel in Jesus’ day. They always said that they wanted to do God’s will but they constantly disobeyed Him. They are the law maker or teachers of the law but did not believe and repent from their sins.
Problem in the World
Many of us here actually knew Jesus, right? We can claim that we are God’s messenger or bearers of God’s word. We are so quick to flaunt how good we are with the Bible and have finished reading it from cover to cover. We teach Sunday school and had Bible study or small groups, we love to read our devotional books or inspirational books, we write in our journals what we feel or anything that we claim to be God’s message to us, we sing praise songs or hymns, we pray every day, we proclaim the word of God, we write our reflections every day even in the class, and so on. These are evidenceswe claimthat makes usbelievers and followers of God.But the question here is ourwords consistent with what is seen in us? Do we walk our talk? Basically, those activities or practices are all opportunities given by God so that our faith would really mature and grow.By doing so, do we internalize the genuine meaning of the activities that we haveoris every day is just a normal thing for us.It is difficult to pretend that we obey God when our heart is actually far from him.
Grace in the Bible
Back in the Bible, Godgave Jesus all the authorityto teach. He is also given the authorityto heal even at a distance, and to forgive sins.In His teaching, every word He proclaimedgave an impact to the lives of people and so people were convince to believe Him. Even the disciples’ were amazed by the works and deeds of Jesus. He knew very well what He teaches and He acted what He teaches too. It is for this reason that the chief priest and the elders of the people are threatened by His presence.In the parable of the two sons too, the first son who said I will not go but later changed his mind are the greatest evidence in obeying the will of Godand so they are going to the kingdom of God. They’re life and role in the Bible was a living testimony in expressing their faith to God both words and deeds.
Grace in the World
As human, words are important and powerful but it is more valuable when we put those words to action. Sometimes we are being convinced by others because of their words and deeds and we follow them because we see consistency in their words and actions.The challenge for us is to fill our lives with good deeds rather than empty words so that our life could be a good example to everyone. Remember that as followers of Christ, He has also given us the authority in teachingand proclaimingthe word of God.We use this authority and privileges to do God’s will for our lives. In Jesus name, Amen.