Matthew 21:23-32 who runs this show anyway
Anyone here had a car breakdown?
Today’s modern cars have a unique feature. If something goes wrong, like the engine overheats, the computer system goes into default mode. That means, the car’s computer goes into a mode that is preset by the factory, and will run like that until the error is fixed. In other words, under extreme pressures, the car automatically goes back into default.
We have a default mode. A mode of operating we go into automatically when confronted with an extreme situation; when we sense an error or hurt against us. Our default mode is ‘look after me at all costs’. If our buttons are pressed, we automatically run on self-importance mode, our default mode; we become selfish and protect our right to exist and have to justify ourselves, even if it means we hurt and destroy others. And we can be included in this, is going into default mode to protect itself from harm. There is a credit crisis which threatens our comfortable way of life, so ‘click’, we go into default mode; self-importance mode and spend $840 billion to prop up dodgy banks and faulty investors so we can keep our way of life. Yet we refuse to spend money to prop up and save the lives of millions of people in third world countries who are dying because they have nothing.
We even refuse to fix the housing crisis in our own country; where we now have the situation of people so desperate for a place to live, they physically fight with other prospective tenants, to get the only affordable home in Sydney. Perhaps this is a sign that our default mode has become our normal way of running. Self-importance is the new way of life…its all about me.
Self importance is the essence of sin. By nature, or our default mode is that we are sinful as Peter writes ‘if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’ When the pressure is on, its so easy to go into default mode and run purely on self-importance; we all do it. Even as baptised children of God, we still fall into self-importance.Life is a race and the winner takes it all, at all cost! Take a look at a clip from the movie ‘cars’. (cht 1 7.07-9.58)
Perhaps we can see some of ourselves in that car ‘lightening McQueen’? When the pressure’s on, we go through life as if we own the race; as if we control everyone and everything.
Jesus came into a world full of people like Lightening McQueen, who, through sin, were one man shows; running on default mode and consumed with self-importance. A world, as John records ‘that was made through him, but did not recognize him, a world that was his own, but did not receive him.’
After entering Jerusalem, one of the first things Jesus did was to visit the temple, a place of prayer, healing and mercy. Yet what did he see? According to Matthew, a ‘den of robbers; people who were not praying for others, loving and serving as he created them, but instead were running on default mode, were one man shows, grabbing as much money as they could from the poor and needy. Angry at this, Jesus cleared the temple, up turned the tables of the money exchangers and made way for the needy to be healed. He drove out the self-important and opened the temple to the repentant; to those who were truly seeking God’s mercy.
When the religious leaders saw this, the pressure was on them to respond and ‘click’, they went into default mode and puffed themselves up with self-importance ‘by what authority do you do these things’, they asked. ‘Who gave you this authority?’ Instead of getting into a power struggle, going into a default mode of self-importance, Jesus told a parable, one that would hit at the core of the issue
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard. “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” Can you answer Jesus’ question?
So could the religious leaders. ‘The first’ they answered. The son that was right with his father was the one that turned from his self-importance and went out and did what was asked of him. In answering that this son was the son that did the father’s will, by repenting and doing what he was asked, the religious leaders convicted themselves. They were all ‘yes, yes’ to God, but never repented of their pride and self-importance, never changed from running on default and remained only concerned for themselves. Oh, publicly they said they would, but as soon as the pressure was on ‘clack’, back into default mode.
We also answered Jesus’ question by saying the first son…have we convicted ourselves?
John the Baptist pointed to a fix for our default mode ‘repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’. Jesus also proclaimed the fix in the Sermon on the Mount ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Jesus is offering a way out from our default mode. He is calling for repentance and a humble heart. This is what it means to do the fathers will, as the first son in the parable did; to turn and recognise our sin and receive the forgiveness he is freely offering.
Here today, once again, as he did in the temple, Jesus is offering a way out; a chance to get out of our default mode, a chance to break the code and enjoy the freedom of living as God intended. He is truly present with us in Holy Communion, calling all of us who are tied of sticking up for ourselves to turn and receive forgiveness and mercy.
He is calling all who of us who are tired of thinking we have to justify themselves and burdened from putting others down in self-importance, to repent and receive a fix for our problem. If this is you, then the blood of Christ is for you, and this promise is for you ‘”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. .For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Amen