Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.” Matthew 21:31b-32 (MSG)
Along my journey, I’ve worshiped in, served on staff, or been in positions of leadership in a handful of different churches and denominations: Methodist, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Community, Presbyterian, Quaker, and Reformed. It’s given me a wide variety of experiences.
As I read the accounts of Jesus’ run ins with the religious leaders of his day, I always picture the religious and denominational leaders of my day having the same conflicts and run-ins with Him. In almost every denomination I’ve experienced, I’ve witnessed or been engaged in run-ins with religious leaders and authorities who act not unlike the Pharisees and Saduccees of Jesus’ day. It’s made me wonder if all human religious institutions, even those dedicated to Jesus, don’t follow the same paths towards human pride, power, and self-importance. I begin to think that it’s inevitable given the nature of man.
Today, this leads me down a path of introspection. As we begin Holy Week, I’m thinking about myself and where I fit in the story. What character in the story of Jesus’ final days, crucifixion, and resurrection do I most identify with? Am I more like Caiaphas the high priest, or Mary Magdalene? Am I more a part of the human institution of the church or a heart and life follower of Jesus? I don’t want to be like the religious leaders whose life was dedicated to the practice of religion but whose hearts and lives would not change to embrace the Truth. I want to be like the “crooks and whores” whose belief is evidenced by a changed life. I want to go to the grave still becoming more like Jesus.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.