Jesus said tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before the religious rule-followers who say the right words. In the Gospels, He spoke of five kinds of people who won’t find the peace and joy God offers every person, if they’ll only enter the fields that are ripe for harvest.
First you have to understand what the kingdom of God is all about. It’s not about paradise after you die. Not even close. As I explain in painstaking detail in my 99 cent ebook, The Kingdom of Heaven is for Real, and It’s Open to Everyone!, the kingdom of God is that state of being— on earth—where you feel peace, joy, and harmony in your heart and mind because you know you’ve done the right thing. And when you do the right thing, it has brought harmony into the lives of others. The kingdom of God is the development of unity and harmony on earth. Everybody wins when the kingdom of God is at hand.
Chapter 13 of my book talks about all those who won’t experience harmony and unity in the kingdom of God. (This is Jesus’s list, not mine.)
(1) Those who don’t treat people any better than the Pharisees or religious leaders (Matt. 5:20).
Jesus was not saying prostitutes are first on the bus to go to “paradise when they die” ahead of the Pharisees. He’s saying they will experience a sense of unity with others long before the righteous Pharisees will experience it. Their compassion and ability to share the little they have with others will bring them a personal sense that they’ve relieved the suffering of another person. Pharisees are more intend on judgment and punishment than they are on unity and compassion.
Prostitutes or tax collectors (traitors) clearly do not have lasting inner peace and joy in their lives. Jesus was using overstatement or cynicism to maximize the effect of his teaching. The point he was making was that the Pharisees, like the second son in this story, were quick to say, “We’ll be glad to help, Lord,” but they weren’t going out and working in the healing fields. They weren’t bringing harmony to the sick, poor, or imprisoned. They were diverted from the true work with their focus on religious rules and rituals.
Pharisees with their rules and judgment will never experience the peace that passes understanding. We have not been called by Jesus to simply say the right things, but we are called to be doers of the word. Like the second son in the parable, it’s easier to say the words that we are supposed to say …“yes, father, I will go and work in the vineyard”…than to do them.
Maybe the second son had good intentions, but there was no follow through. Jesus asked, “Which son did the will of his father?” It’s rather obvious that the first son who changed his mind and went to work did what the father wanted – the father simply wanted the work to be done. The words of the second son were nice to hear, but they had no substance. Jesus is saying, “I don’t care what you SAY you believe, DO what I ask you to DO.”
Yet it becomes easier to enter the fields and do what is right when we link arms together with others and carry out Christ’s work in the world. Let’s not get sidetracked by just talking about religion and what the church should be doing. Let’s go into the fields and work to bring peace and harmony to the poor and outcast.
Who else won’t enter the kingdom of God/heaven, according to Jesus?
(2) Those who don’t receive the kingdom like little children (Matt. 18:3).
(3) Those who don’t forgive (Matt. 18:21-35).
(4) Those who keep looking back (Luke 9:62).
(5) Those who trust in money for their security (Matt. 19:23).
It takes a whole chapter to explain all these others right here, so for 99 cents to Amazon you can get the full details about why these last four groups won’t experience harmony and unity in life. You’ll also get answers to who will inherit the kingdom, answers to kingdom parables, how you too can heal in the kingdom, etc. Get it here, The Kingdom of Heaven is for Real, and It’s Open to Everyone!.
(If you didn’t see my last post about new titles and covers for my In Living Color series, as well as their introductory prices of 99 cents – check it out here.)