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"By What Authority Doest Thou These Things?" Matthew 21:23-32

Matthew 21:23-32

In other studies, I found myself studying this passage of scripture yesterday. Then this video, depicting the same verses, was released later in the afternoon. I now go back and revisit the same passage to add some personal insights.

There is a tendency to discount and condemn the actions of the chief priests and elders as did the Lord, yet when I do it, it is without understanding or even consideration of why they were really being condemned. What is also interesting here, is that these chief priests and elders were probably those whose responsibility it was to oversee in the affairs of the temple. The father of John the Baptist was also a priest in the same temple, the only temple in all of Israel. Christ was brought and presented in this same temple as an infant of only 8 days old. So for the cheif priests and the elders of the people to come to Christ in the temple and to question his authority, perhaps was a justifiable action in their minds.

The parable of the two sons really draws their actions into focus though, and unfortunately, I find a bit of myself leaning towards the tendencies of these, the rulers of the temple. In the character of the chief priests, we find the pretended appearance of piousness - an overemphasis in the presentation without any or only minimal thought for the internal workings of the soul.

Again referencing the parable, there is the second son, who says, "Yes, I'll go and do." In word, the second son had the desire to do what is right. However, in deed, the desire to execute what he had been told to do of his father was not there.

In Doctrine and Covenants 41:5-6, it reads:
He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, and shall be cast out from among you;
For it is not meet that the things which belong to the children of the kingdom should be given to them that are not worthy...
This tendency to hear and not do is directly associated with unworthiness.

 On the other hand, this verse from Job is quite reassuring to those that do seek the Lord honestly, humbly. "He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him." (Job 13:16)

 This verse from Job causes me to consider the difference between the hypocrite, in whom there may be the appearance of piousness, but in reality they are an utter void of righteousness with neither desire nor any incline towards the things of righteousness. Rather, theirs is a road of vanity and exploit, dishonesty, lies, bribery, and corruption.

There is a very real difference between this and those who have humbly embarked upon the road of discipleship and who still exhibit imperfections of one sort or another. Also included in this category are the households of the disciples, whose children are still struggling to find their way in the world. These are not hypocrites, but real investigators of the truth, whom are given to us with the opportunity to shape and guide them along the path of light.


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