It’s hard to admit when we’re wrong. I know I struggle with it at times. The reason? Pride. It takes a great deal of humility to simply say, “I was wrong.”
But if we want relationships that last, relationships with others and with God, we need that kind of humility.
This was exactly what the religious leaders of Jesus’ day did not have. Time and again, Jesus clearly showed them they were wrong, and they simply could not bring themselves to admit it. We see this several times over this last week of Jesus’ ministry before he went to the cross.
It starts here, however. The chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders all came up to Jesus asking by what authority he had come to the temple and cleared it out.
Jesus, as was typical, answered their question with a question.
John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin? (Matthew 21:25)
Immediately, these men were in a quandary. If they said it was from heaven, then Jesus would say, “Why don’t you believe his words that I am the Messiah, then? And if you do accept them, then you know exactly where my authority comes from.”
On the other hand, they didn’t want to say it was from men because everyone else in Israel believed John was a prophet, and would not stand for them denigrating him.
So, they answered, “We don’t know.”
And so Jesus said, “Fine. You don’t answer my question, I won’t answer yours.”
Then he told them a parable of two sons. One was asked by the father to do something, and he said “Sure,” but ended up doing nothing. The other refused his father’s request at first, but later changed his mind and obeyed.
This of course was a contrast between these leaders and the “sinners” Jesus ministered to.
Outwardly, these leaders were “righteous.” But in truth, they rebelled against God.
They saw John and immediately dismissed him as a kook. But then they started to see the impact he was having, and all the lives that were changing because of John. They had to know in their hearts that he really was from God, but in their pride, they rejected him anyway.
Then they saw Jesus, they saw all his miracles, and heard all his teaching. Despite all this, they rejected Jesus too. Even when he shredded all their arguments and left them speechless, they still clung to their old way of thinking.
On the other hand, these “sinners” the leaders despised had outwardly rebelled against God, ripping people off and selling their bodies for sex. But then John and Jesus came, and as a result they repented of their sins. They were humble enough to recognize their wrong, and so turned from their sins.
And so Jesus told these leaders,
Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. (31)
How about you? Are you so proud that you can’t admit when you’re wrong? It’s bad enough when that pride tears apart your relationships with others. It’s worse when it keeps you from a relationship with God.
So let us have hearts that are humble and soft to correction. That can admit when we are wrong. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves in the same position as these leaders. Separated from others and separated from God.