Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can't Tell Me Nothing

"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?"
"The first," they answered.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. Matthew 21: 28-31

The context here is that Jesus is ripping hard into the Pharisees. They are like the cool kids in a typical high school drama who seem like they have it all together but really deep down are power hungry and shady.

The thing that I like about this one is that Jesus identifies tax collectors and prostitutes as the folks who will enter the kingdom of God before the Pharisees.

The prostitute thing is obvious, but the tax collector part is a bit more nuanced. At the time the tax collectors were Jewish folk chosen by Roman officials to collect taxes for the Roman government. But as they did this they were allowed to demand more than the empire required.

They skimmed off the top and in the process, fleeced their own people for as much as they could manage.

That’s what I call a cutthroat hustle.

But Jesus broke bread with them anyways. I like how Jesus was cool with the folk at the bottom. He forgave adulterers, chilled with the homeless, and sick and made time to acknowledge the kids.

Jesus loves the kids.

I have always wondered why we see this so much in the gospels.

One idea that I have is that the people on the bottom tend to be most desirous of change.

Why? Because when we’re down and out, we may not know what to do to change our situation, but we definitely know that we need help.

But when we think we are on top of the world… we don’t need nothing from nobody. And it is at this point that we really lose sight of what is important in life.

This reminds me of this song by Kanye West called "Can't Tell Me Nothing".

(For those of you who are not fans of his work… please bear with me.)

If you listen closely to the first verse of the song you can tell that he struggles with this issue. What do you do when you get to the top and you start to lose focus on what is important?

Perhaps we have to remember to do what Jesus did; hang with the tax collectors and prostitutes (leave your money at home) and the homeless and the kids.

When we stay connected to those around us who are struggling and ignored it helps us to stay humble, be gracious, and remember that we are not much further along the path of life than anyone else.

Perhaps you’ll find out at dinner with the homeless man that he is the one who is helping you.

Today’s Reading: Exodus 29-30: Matthew 21: 23-46


  1. I personally prefer this version of Can't Tell Me Nothing:http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/451fba17e0/cant-tell-me-nothin-from-zach-galifianakis

    I like your take on this. It reminds me a lot of the Jacob and Esau deal. If Esau was the one working all day, and Jacob was just a mama's boy, how did Jacob deserve "the birthright".

  2. Dude... that video was fantastic! hahaha. I thought about doing a special blog post to feature it but I figure it's not exactly on theme with the blog.

    True about Jacob. He at least might have had me on his side if he were a hard worker... dude was just shady.

    He sure paid for it through hard labor for the next 20 years tho.


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