Sermon #61                                                     Series: Matthew

            Title:                Two Questions and A Parable

            Text:                Matthew 21:23-32

            Reading:        Lindsay Campbell – Rex Bartley

            Subject:          Christ Confounds The Scribes and Pharisees

            Date:               Tuesday Evening – October 31, 1995

            Tape #            R-90




            The passage we have before us begins the last three days of our Lord’s earthly ministry prior to his arrest in Gethsemane.  It is simply astonishing to consider how much work our Savior pressed into these last three days.  All that is recorded from Matthew 21-23 through chapter 25.  All that is recorded by Mark in chapters 20, 21, and 22, and all that we read in John’s gospel from chapters 12 through 18 was done in these last three days before his arrest.  His meet and drink was to do his Father’s will. What an example he has given us.  May God give us grace to follow it as men and women who know that “the time is short.”


            The verses of our text contain Two Questions and a Parable.  In these verses we see the priests and elders of the people, the religious leaders of the day, attempting to discredit the ministry of the Son of God. These bitter enemies of righteousness, these bitter envious, insecure religious men swarmed around the Son of God, like a nest of bees, trying to find some weakness in him. The question by which he silenced their quibbles, and the parable by which the Son of God forced these men to condemn themselves are here recorded for our comfort, learning, and admonition by divine inspiration.  May God the Holy Spirit, who inspired Matthew to write these words, now inscribes their lessons upon our hearts.


Proposition:  The Son of God knows how to confound his enemies and shall do so.


I.  First, I want you to see that the question raised by our Lord’s adversaries demonstrates the fact that – Satan’s Strategy Never Changes. (v. 23).


            From the beginning of time, satan’s most constant weapon against Christ and his people has been slander.  Eve was seduced by the serpent’s slander of God’s character. Once the Lord God was discredited in her eyes, she was snared. Whenever it is impossible to disprove the work of God or deny the truth of God, satan’s weapon of choice is to discredit the messenger of God by slander.


            These hell-inspired religionists could not refute our Lord’s doctrine.  They could not deny his power – (The fig tree withered before them!) – And they could not find any fault with his life or the lives of his disciples. So the only way to defend themselves, the only way they could justify their opposition to the Son of God, was to discredit him by casting some slander upon him.


A.  Often they slandered the Savior by his association with sinners; but here they attempted to discredit his authority.


            They ignored the good he did Healing the Sick – Cleansing The Temple – Raising the Dead – Teaching the People – Cursing The Fig Tree) and quibbled about his authority to do what he did.


            “Too many care nothing for the manifest blessings of God upon a man’s work, so long as he is not sent forth by their own sect or party.” – (J.C. Ryle).


1.       These religious leaders had all the right credentials – But they knew nothing of the power of God.

2.       Our Lord had no earthly credentials - But his words manifested the very omnipotence of God.


NOTE: This is shocking news to some – But credentials mean nothing in the church and kingdom of God.


B.  Any man who is being used of God can expect to be the object of hellish slander.


            Wolves never attack a panted sheep, only a living one. Even so, artificial preachers are not spited and persecuted, but faithful ones.


            The pope offered to make Luther a cardinal, if he would just keep quiet. Luther refused. Then men called him a proud fool. He said, “Let me be counted fool or anything, but I will not be guilty of cowardly silence.” When the papists could not canted him, they said, “Luther is an apostate.” Luther replied, “I am an apostate, but a blessed and holy apostate, one that has fallen off from the devil!” When men said, “Martin Luther is a devil,” he replied, “So be it. Luther is a devil; but Christ liveth and reigneth. That is enough for Luther.”


NOTE:  The most common areas of slander, by which God’s servants are attacked today are the very same areas of slander that were hurled against The Son of God – Religious Authority – (Where did you go to school? – What degree do you have? – Who ordained you? Antinonianism – No man ever preached the gospel who was not accused of antinomianism! – Suggestions of Wickedness.  “Eateth with publicans and sinner.” “Gluten and Winebibber.”


NOTE: Nothing in this world is more base, more vile, more hellish and demonic than gossip and slander!


  1. Slander comes from an evil heart (Luke 6:45)
  2. It is characteristic of the devil – He is the slanderer (Rev. 12:10).
  3. Slanderes are wicked, base hypocrites (Ps. 50:20; Pro. 11:9).
  4. Slander inflicts deadly wounds (Pro. 18:8; 26:22).
  5. Slander stirs up strife (Pro. 26:22) and separates friends (Pro. 16:28; 17:9).
  6. Slander is the cause of discord among brethren (Pro. 6:19).
  7. The tongue of slander is a scourge (Job 5:21), destructive (Pro. 11:9), and venomous (Ps. 140:3; Eccl. 10:11).


II.  Secondly, our Savior’s question, by which he confounded the religious quibblers, clearly teaches us that Believer’s Baptism Is A Divine Ordinance – (vv. 24-27).


            If they had been honest men, the question which our Lord put before these men would have been very simple to answer. But they were not honest men.  Though they pretended to serve God, they were men-pleasers And men-pleasers are like politicians – They never commit themselves to anything until they know which way the wind is blowing and what the costs will be.


            Obviously, our Lord could easily have answered their question. He had already told them many times who he was and by what authority he acted. But now he seems to contemptuously shake off the dust of his feet against them. He showed his contempt for them publicly because they were public men.


A.  Several things should be learned from our Lord’s behavior here.


1.      We must always be ready to give answer to anyone who desires to know the reason of our hope (I Pet. 3:15).

2.      We ought never shrink from any inquiry from people seeking to understand our doctrine or practices.  Do not teach what you cannot defend!

3.      But we have no obligation to answer the caviling quibbles of those who oppose the gospel.


B.  However, our Lord’s primary instruction in this question was for the benefit of his disciples.


            The ministry of John the Baptist, particularly his practice of immersing those who professed repentance toward God, was a matter of great controversy in those days, just as believer’s baptism is a matter of great controversy today – Here, our Lord Jesus teaches us that John’s baptism was of heavenly origin.


            “By ‘The baptism of John’ is meant the ordinance of water-baptism, which was first administered by him.”” (John Gill) No one had ever done anything like this before. Believer’s baptism began to be practiced by divine ordinance with the ministry of John the Baptist.


            Many today talk about baptism as a matter of choice, or of indifference. But neither is true. Believer’s baptism is a divine ordinance. As such, it is essential in the worship of God.


1.       Baptism is for believers only – (Acts 8:37-38). – “Bring forth fruit meet for repentance.”

2.       Baptism is by immersion only – A Burial (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12).

Illus: Matt. 3:15-17

3.       Baptism is a Symbolic Picture of the Gospel – (Rom. 6:46).


III.  Thirdly, in the parable about the two sons, our Savior teaches us that The Lord Our God Graciously Saves Every Penitent Sinner, Even The Most Base and Vile – (vv. 28-32).


            This parable is very brief, but very instructive. All who are wise will learn what it teaches.


A.  All men belong to God.


            God is not the Father of all men in a gracious, covenant way. But he is the Father of all and the Owner of all as The Creator of all.



B.  All men are commanded to repent when the gospel is preached.



C.  Repentance, Obedience, and Faith are all Synonymous Terms.


            Repentance is neither more nor less than faith in Christ. And faith in Christ is neither more not less than obedience to him as Lord – (“Work” – v. 28; “repented” v. 29 – “believed” v. 32).


D.  The Lord our God is infinitely willing and able to save every sinner who bows to his dear Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, in true repentance and faith.


1.       It matters not how bad you have been – If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you shall be saved.

2.       It matters not how good you appear to be – If you do not trust the Son of God, you must perish forever – God is no respecter of persons!


NOTE: No man or woman is so sinful that God will not save them. But many are so righteous in their own eyes that they cannot be saved.


NOTE:  In the day of judgment, I would rather stand before God as a publican, or a harlot, or anything, rather than stand before him as a self-righteous hypocrite – Beware of self-righteousness!





1.      When you are slandered let it have no effect upon you, except to drive you into your Father’s arms.

2.      If you would be saved, you must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

3.      If God has saved you, if he has given you faith in Christ, confess him in Believer’s Baptism.