"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes ..." (Matthew 21:31)

"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matthew 21:31)

Jesus' authority is questioned

Jesus is speaking to the institutional temple priests and elders who came to Jesus to question his authority for teaching in the temple courtyard. Remember, they had said to Jesus:
"By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" (Matt. 21:23)
So Jesus had told them the parable of the two sons (Matt. 21:28-31), to which they agreed that the first son - who told his father he wouldn't do the work at first but then changed his mind and did it - pleased his father more than the second son - who told his father he would do the work and then didn't.

Jesus was comparing the institutional temple priests and elders to the second son. This was because they were presenting to everyone (including God) that they were God's representatives and doing the work of God, when they were actually simply seeking to maintain their authority and superiority in their positions as ecclesiastically-appointed, salaried officials of the temple.

Thus, despite their presentation as God's representatives, they were not doing God's work. Their interests were self-serving.

What's this have to do with prostitutes?

But why is this worse than the prostitutes and tax collectors? Why will these folks return to God in the spiritual realm before these institutional temple officials, according to Jesus? Weren't the prostitutes and tax collectors also serving their own interests, and in far worse ways?

Actually, no. The reason is that Jesus says they will reach God first is because at least they weren't pretending to be God's representatives.

The prostitutes and tax collectors were not presenting to the world that they were so dedicated to God when they weren't dedicated to the Supreme Being. The prostitutes and tax collectors were not wearing the big robes. The prostitutes and tax collectors were not using the position of God's representative for their own purposes, taking salaries and nice living arrangements for their so-called service.

Rather, the prostitutes and tax collectors presented to society exactly who they were. They were at least being honest about who they were. For this reason, they stood a better chance of one day honestly turning to God and giving their lives in love, to Him.

Just consider if you were the owner of a large business, and someone was going around saying they worked for you when they didn't. Further, they were taking money from innocent customers who thought they were buying your product, while simply stuffing their own pockets? How would you feel about that person? Would you hire them after they had done this? Certainly not.

Fakers and fakery

The religious fakers of human society have continued, long after this conversation between Jesus and these sectarian teachers. Today's sectarian teachers include popes, cardinals, bishops, reverends and ministers of the various sects of sectarian institutions, which have taken the place of these institutional temple priests. They have received their positions of authority through politically-derived councils of men, while they collect salaries to perform their rituals and ceremonies. Meanwhile, their interests are themselves and their political organizations - not in serving God. They seek to maintain their positions of false authority and superiority by retaining their professional salaried positions. If they were serving God why do they collect salaries?

And the religious fakers are not confined to the sectarian institutions. They also include the many rabbis, gurus, imams and other "spiritual" teachers around the world's organized sectarian religions who maintain that they represent God when they are actually seeking to exercise their superiority over others while using their followers for their own gain.

All of these belong in the same category of the institutional temple priests that Jesus was speaking to. Why? Because they are faking their positions as God's representatives. They do not represent God. They do not even know the Supreme Being.

Jesus is God's representative

Those who know God and serve God - like Jesus - do not assume ecclesiastical titles given by councils of men. Their titles do not rely upon the approval of others. And they do not accept salaries for teaching about God. Those who actually represent God are His humble loving servants. Most are invisible to the crowds who seek the pope mobile or the big church that their neighbors go to.

God's representative doesn't occupy a position built upon the respect of others in the material world - because those in the material world typically respect those who will help them achieve their materialistic goals.

God's representative is focused on pleasing God. This is why Jesus stated:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
Pleasing God has nothing to do with pleasing people. We can see this by Jesus' example. Even though he was accepted as a rabbi by his followers, he was condemned by the ecclesiastical teachers of the temple institution. Why? Because he did not teach and do what they wanted.

Rather, he taught and did what the Supreme Being wanted him to. He was God's representative and loving servant, not theirs. This is why he said:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)