“Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you (religious leaders).” ~ Matthew 21:31
What – greedy and sexually deviate people are getting into heaven before the religious leaders? How can this be?
Well, Jesus goes on to say that the tax collectors and prostitutes believed John’s righteous message. A message of repentance.
The first step into the kingdom of God is knowing your sin. Knowing that you have failed to live the life God designed for you must come before there’s any hope of entering into a relationship with God.
If your approach to God starts with, “I’m not as bad as those people” or “I may have done this be thankfully I didn’t do that” or “Basically, I’ve been a good personal most of my life” – then you’ve missed it.
The reason Jesus says that the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering in first is because their need is so obvious. It’s those of us who live basically good, moral upright lives who have a much harder time understanding the grace of God.
Why? Because we don’t know our sin.
Jesus says here that these religious leaders saw others repenting but this didn’t have an impact on them. Their pride, their religious arrogance and their hard hearts would not let them accept John’s message personally.
“Of course the tax collectors and prostitutes need to repent! But us nice, religious leaders?”
Yes, especially nice religious people need to repent (like myself and many reading this blog). We need to repent of our self-righteousness. Repent of our spiritual selfishness. Repent of our pride and arrogance.
Thankfully, there is much mercy and grace at the cross. Come humbly to Jesus again and again.
Make your life one of repentance and enter into the kingdom of heaven with your brothers and sisters – those tax collectors and prostitutes – who just might be walking through those pearly gates before you and me.