28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. Matthew 21:28-32 (ESV)
I listened to this passage this on my Sony Walkman as I was riding my bicycle this morning. (Soo early 80's! I should be using an ipod I know.) I had never noticed that the tax collectors and the prostitutes go in before the chief priests and the elders. I always thought in terms of the religious leaders not getting in at all. Perhaps we should not read into the verbiage that they did or did not make it into the kingdom of God. Because the next passage is about the Parable of the Tenants which points to the religious leaders being destroyed by their lack of faithfulness. The real point of the Parable of the Two Sons is that the repentance of the tax collectors and prostitutes is an example for these religious leaders.
Those who have been to seminary or lifelong members of the church need to remember that those new to the faith are examples to them. At least from the context of this parable, it is not the other way around.