Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, 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.”
Repent and Believe
It was a shocking thing to say. Jesus was talking to some religious leaders and told them that tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom of heaven ahead of them. At that time, prostitutes and tax collectors were considered the worst of sinners.
So, how could Jesus say this? Because those sinners believed what John the Baptist preached. He had told them to repent and trust in Jesus. That was the best thing they ever heard. So, the tax collectors and the prostitutes repented, but the religious leaders to whom Jesus was speaking did not. They didn’t understand that they needed to repent just as much as everyone else.
And this is where we need to watch ourselves. It is easy to think we are better than other people–that they need to repent more than we do. But repentance is recognizing that no matter how good you may look outwardly, you’re no better than anyone else, and your only hope is in Christ alone. That’s why tax collectors and prostitutes were getting in ahead of the religious leaders. Not because they were better than them but because they turned from their sin and trusted their Savior.
It was a shocking thing for Jesus to say. But he said it out of love. He wanted to warn the religious leaders so that they would recognize their sin, repent, and trust in their Savior.
And do you know what? He is doing the same thing for you now in this devotion. Repent and believe the good news!
Lord, show me my sins and forgive me for them. Help me to trust in your perfect life and innocent death and give me your righteousness. Amen.