He had a donkey stolen, turned over the money changers’ tables, accused the temple authorities of being den robbers, cursed a fig tree, threw out a wedding banquet guest, and stirred up the entire city of Jerusalem.  Jesus was furious, and chapter twenty one of Matthew’s gospel begs us to wonder why?

Matthew 21:23-32 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.Why is Jesus so mad?

Congregational Responses:

Because the Church had been turned into a business.
The religious types believed they were once saved, always saved.
His authority was dismissed.
The chief priests and elders refused the possibility that God was doing a new thing.
Why is Jesus so mad?”It tears up our families, our friendships, our communities,” says Barbara Brown Taylor, “when we say love and do indifference, or say right and do wrong, or say ‘I will go’ and go nowhere at all.”

For the chief priests and the elders who sing their statements and affirm their affirmations, it is much more convenient to worship tradition than to follow the One who tradition promised.

Be reminded all of us who fancy ourselves in long robes, indulge ourselves at the head table and intoxicate ourselves with the sound of our own voices.  Be reminded that orthopraxy trumps orthodoxy; discipleship trumps disciple; behavior trumps belief.

If the choice is between saying “yes” to your lips and “no” to your body, or saying “no” to your lips and “yes” to your body, then forsake your word for the sake of God’s word.

Be a backpedaling first brother.  Be a backpedaling first brother. Be a backpedaling first brother.

“The purpose of the Church,” says Brother Andrew, “is not to survive or even thrive, but to serve.”

If Christianity raises the question, then how we chose to live our lives should be the answer.On a Sunday morning in Plains Georgia, a young man stood in line with scores of visitors outside the Baptist Church waiting for Sundayschool, waiting for the President of the United States to teach the lesson.

After class, the young man decided to stay for worship.  He picked up the bulletin and flipped it over to see the printed announcements and the notice on the bottom.  It read: Rosalyn Carter will clean the church on Saturday.  Jimmy Carter will cut the grass and trim the shrubbery.

Jesus asks, “What do you think?  Which of the two sons did the will of his Father?”