The Riddle Each Must Solve

Jackson Snyder, July 18, 1993


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Mat 21:28-32


†† Jesus is teaching in the temple."The chief priests and eldersĒ interrupt (Mat 21:23).They ask him by what authority he taught, and who gave him the authority.

†† To be honest about our faith, our salvation is not composed simply of the act of kneeling at the altar in an emotional moment and reciting the sinnerís prayer.On the contrary, the world can't recognize a child of Yahweh simply by his name or his church.The world was not in attendance on that long-past Sunday morning, when the sinner knelt and said a prayer.No, the child of Yahweh is known only by WHAT HE DOES.Just as scuppernongs are picked from a vine and tomatoes from a bush, the people of Yahweh are known by the fruit they produce (Mat 7:16)!Jesus admonishes all who would be his followers to "Bear fruit worthy of repentance" (Mat 3:8).††††††

†† Last week when I was mowing, I saw out in the weeds by the creek some wild blackberries.I waded through the weeds to get some.They were pretty sour but passable.I soon forgot the taste of the wild fruit when welts began to appear all over my legs from the chigger bites I received in my walk through the weeds.

†† Wild fruit takes no cultivating.Sometimes it does turns out to be good, but its goodness is often not worth investigating.Sometimes itís dangerous.The only useful fruit we can bear as Children of the Heavenly Father is to do his works as indentured servants.Such pickings is not insipid and uncultivated fruit, leading to insect bites and scratches from brambles, but berries that are large and sweet and in demand!To cultivate such fruit in the Father's vineyard takes dedication, sweat and obedience to the commandments of the Lord of the Harvest conveyed by His apostles and prophets, both living and dead, to us.

†† The chief priests had all the trappings of obedience.As they ask Jesus questions, the implication was that he had not received his authority to teach from them as was proper. Jesus answers their questioning with a riddle."What do you think?"The religious authorities understood that they were cast as the son who said he would go, but never actually went.

†† The chief priests correspond to those in a religious institution who observe the trappings of religion and hold the authority over the building.Some might say they "run the church." The godly witness brings a word from the Lord, and there are a slim few around who pay attention to it -- certainly not those who "run the church."Their business is not revelation, but institution.

†† But they do question the authority of the one bringing the word from the Lord by saying in their hearts -- "That's fine for him and for them, thatís his business and theirs.But we've been here a long time and heard a lot a preachers and a lot of sermons and thatís the best we can do because we are on top of the heap." Such are sons who say they will go, yet in the going never get.

†† Then there are a few people, who some say really don't belong in the church who do eventually get caught up in the message, and recognize that the Word presented is from Heaven.They not only hear it but they actually begin to try out what they are taught, little by little, with surprising results.Such are sons who say they won't go, but later recognize the authority of the Father, and to go to work in the fields of the world as witnesses.

†† Unfortunately, the disobedient sons of the institution become impediments to those few others who are trying their best to be obedient.These disobedient sons are supposed to be godly and seem so, but are not.They are setting the younger children a bad example.As a lay leader of a church, I was ashamed to invite folks to attend because many of the prominent church members were so uninviting and unfriendly.They had been there for years and I hadnít.I was elected to Lay Leader by the youngsters of the church, and some of the long-timers didnít like it.I hadnít been there at least twenty years, so I was immature and inexperienced, they supposed.And besides, my little piddling authority hadnít flowed from them.

†† But I do not feel that way about this church as that one.This congregation sent me to the throne room for a plan and I returned with a word from the Lord about witnessing and church growth.You are my brothers and sisters for the sake of my word, and together we correspond with the two sons in our text.

†††† (A plan of evangelism had been outlined in the previous meeting.)So, let's take an informal survey.How many were in attendance June 27?(Hands) How many filled out their plan for witnessing?(Hands)How many have actually been interceding for those whom you have identified?(No Hands)How many have asked somebody to church in the last 3 weeks?(No Hands)Was that person on your list?

†† I didn't call for hands the last 3 because nobody has to answer to me!It is Jesus who said "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you?" (Luke 6:46)But today we bless him, for though we may have been disobedient to his calling we know He is the "Lord of second chances."

†† Jesus' riddle is one we all must solve for ourselves.Which of the sons have we been, and what fruit if any do we now cultivate?We must speak for ourselves.But I will make my confession to you...I have preached the Witnessing message now 5 times, and have not myself committed to it until Friday, when I was convicted about this very thing, and had to repent.So I can say that up until Friday, I was like the first son, who said he would, then didn't.But now, I'm more like the other son, who thought he wouldn't but was convicted by the spirit of his father to fulfill his duty as a son.

†† Let's all now take the course of the first son, and see this plan for evangelization through to success.Let's commit to no longer being like the chief priests, questioning the authority of the Lord in our lives, but become dutiful, obedient sons, daughters, and heirs to the work of the vineyard as well as to the promises!Let's take up this riddle and solve it for ourselves, and truthfully answer our Lord's question, "What do you think?" by saying, "Yes. Lord - I have been the disobedient son, but by your grace, I am becoming and am the OBEDIENT one."


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