1. A QUESTION OF AUTHORITY
a. What question did the chief priests and elders ask Christ? Matthew 21:23.
“The rulers [of Israel] had before them the evidences of [Jesus] Messiahship. They now decided to demand no sign of His authority, but to draw out some admission or declaration by which He might be condemned. . . .
“They expected Him to claim that His authority was from God. Such an assertion they intended to deny.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 593.
b. In return, what question did Christ put before them, and what answer did He receive? Matthew 21:24–27.
“In His contest with the rabbis, it was not Christ’s purpose to humiliate His opponents. He was not glad to see them in a hard place. He had an important lesson to teach. He had mortified His enemies by allowing them to be entangled in the net they had spread for Him. Their acknowledged ignorance in regard to the character of John’s baptism gave Him an opportunity to speak, and He improved the opportunity by presenting before them their real position, adding another warning to the many already given.”—Ibid., pp. 594, 595.
2. THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS
a. Through what parable did Christ reveal the secrets of the hearts of the chief priests and elders? Matthew 21:28–31 (first part).
b. Who was closer to the kingdom of God than the rulers among the Jews? Matthew 21:31 (last part), 32.
“Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God regards more with how much love one worketh than the amount he doeth.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 135.
“It is not the great results we attain, but the motives from which we act, that weigh with God. He prizes goodness and faithfulness more than the greatness of the work accomplished.”—Ibid., pp. 510, 511.
c. How can we be like the older son in the parable of the two sons? 1 John 3:7; James 4:17.
“Many today claim to obey the commandments of God, but they have not the love of God in their hearts to flow forth to others. Christ calls them to unite with Him in His work for the saving of the world, but they content themselves with saying, ‘I go, sir.’ They do not go. They do not cooperate with those who are doing God’s service. They are idlers. Like the unfaithful son, they make false promises to God. . . .
In profession they claim to be sons of God, but in life and character they deny the relationship. They do not surrender the will to God. They are living a lie.
“The promise of obedience they appear to fulfill when this involves no sacrifice; but when self-denial and self-sacrifice are required, when they see the cross to be lifted, they draw back. Thus the conviction of duty wears away, and known transgression of God’s commandments becomes habit. The ear may hear God’s word, but the spiritual perceptive powers have departed. The heart is hardened, the conscience seared.
“Do not think that because you do not manifest decided hostility to Christ you are doing Him service. We thus deceive our own souls. By withholding that which God has given us to use in His service, be it time or means or any other of His entrusted gifts, we work against Him.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 279, 280.
3. HAVE WE ACCEPTED THE INVITATION?
a. By what invitation of the Saviour will many be tested? Matthew 21:28.
“In the command, ‘Go work today in My vineyard,’ the test of sincerity is brought to every soul. Will there be deeds as well as words? Will the one called put to use all the knowledge he has, working faithfully, disinterestedly, for the Owner of the vineyard?”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 281.
b. What work does the Lord have for each of us to do? What does this work include? 2 Peter 1:2–7.
“If you cultivate faithfully the vineyard of your soul, God is making you a laborer together with Himself. And you will have a work to do not only for yourself, but for others. In representing the church as the vineyard, Christ does not teach that we are to restrict our sympathies and labors to our own numbers. The Lord’s vineyard is to be enlarged. In all parts of the earth He desires it to be extended. As we receive the instruction and grace of God, we should impart to others a knowledge of how to care for the precious plants. Thus we may extend the vineyard of the Lord. God is watching for evidence of our faith, love, and patience.”—Ibid., p. 282.
c. Who is our great example in doing this work? Psalm 40:8.
“Consider the life of Christ. Standing at the head of humanity, serving His Father, He is an example of what every son should and may be. The obedience that Christ rendered God requires from human beings today. He served His Father with love, in willingness and freedom. ‘I delight to do Thy will, O My God,’ He declared; ‘yea, Thy law is within My heart’ (Psalm 40:8). Christ counted no sacrifice too great, no toil too hard, in order to accomplish the work which He came to do. At the age of twelve He said, ‘Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?’ (Luke 2:49). He had heard the call, and had taken up the work. ‘My meat,’ He said, ‘is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work’ (John 4:34).”—Ibid., pp. 282, 283.
4. PUTTING OUR UTMOST INTO HIS SERVICE
a. As we work for Him, to what degree does the Lord want us to surrender ourselves to Him? 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
“In all our service a full surrender of self is demanded. The smallest duty done in sincerity and self-forgetfulness is more pleasing to God than the greatest work when marred with self-seeking. He looks to see how much of the spirit of Christ we cherish, and how much of the likeness of Christ our work reveals. He regards more the love and faithfulness with which we work than the amount we do.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 402.
“He who truly loves and fears God, striving with a singleness of purpose to do His will, will place his body, his mind, his heart, his soul, his strength, under service to God. . . . Those who are determined to make the will of God their own must serve and please God in everything.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 190.
b. When is the Lord well pleased? Mark 1:11; John 8:29; 14:21; 15:10.
“We should not obey the commandments merely to secure heaven, but to please Him who died to save sinners from the penalty of the transgression of the Father’s law. . . . It is a sad resolve to follow Christ as far off as possible, venturing as near the verge of perdition as possible without falling in.”—Christ Triumphant, p. 77.
“In every phase of your character building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 332.
c. What type of service is an abomination to God? Matthew 15:8, 9.
“Some who claim to love Jesus are deceivers and all their religion is lip service. It does not transform the character. It does not reveal the inward working of grace. They do not show that they have ever learned in Christ’s school the lessons of meekness and lowliness of heart. They do not show by life or character that they are wearing Christ’s yoke or lifting Christ’s burdens. They are not reaching the standard given them in God’s Word, but a human standard.”—This Day With God, p. 299.
5. THE BLESSINGS OF A FULL COMMITMENT
a. What wonderful promises are given to those who serve the Lord in deed and in truth? John 14:23; Matthew 7:24, 25.
“Of those who faithfully serve Him the Lord says, ‘They shall be Mine . . . in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him’ (Malachi 3:17).”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 283.
“While we trust in Christ’s saving power, all the arts and wiles of the fallen host can do nothing to harm us. Heavenly angels are constantly with us, guiding and protecting. God has ordained that we shall have His saving power with us, to enable us to do all His will. Let us grasp the promises and cherish them moment by moment. Let us believe that God means just what He says. . . .
“As we lay hold of the power thus placed within our reach, we receive a hope so strong that we can rely wholly upon God’s promises; and laying hold of the possibilities there are in Christ, we become the sons and daughters of God. . . .
“To man is granted the privilege of becoming an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. To those who have been thus exalted, are unfolded the unsearchable riches of Christ, which are of a thousandfold more value than the wealth of the world. Thus, through the merits of Jesus Christ, finite man is elevated to fellowship with God and with His dear Son.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 32.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. While Christ did not intend to humble the rabbis, what was the purpose of His answer to them?
2. What causes us to draw back from service for Christ, like the older son in the parable of the two sons?
3. How can we follow Christ’s example of obedience when He was upon this earth?
4. How only can we be doers of the Word and not just those who render lip service?
5. What is possible for us as we trust in God’s saving power?