Best I can tell, Jesus is speaking of allegiances in today’s Matthew passage. An extension of the turning of the money changer tables, Jesus is interrogated by the chief priests and elders. They want to know by what authority he is disrupting temple practices. He withholds his answer until they answer one of his questions, a question which points to allegiances.
He asks whether John’s baptism was from heaven or from human origin. If they say heaven, people will wonder why they did not believe him. If they say “from human origin” then the crowd will turn against them, because they believe John to be a prophet.
Their earthly allegiances get in the way. It disallows them from answering. They are pandering to their own egos, their own respect and credentials. Because of this, Jesus tells a parable, and then declares that the prostitutes and tax-collectors will enter heaven before they do.
It is a passage full of insults. Jesus is tired of putting up with their mud-slinging and he is slinging some back.
The world is no different today. We live in a world that vies for our attention. Not just commercials on television, but almost every corner of life – we are asked to pay our dues, subscribe to certain ways of thinking, support this that or the other candidate, buy this, support that. We pander to expectations society puts on us, divorcing ourselves from the call that Jesus hurls out today – that our allegiance better be with God.
We must be willing to part with our credibility, with our respect and dignity, if it means holding up our Sovereign God above all else. That’s a tall order, yet one that we must struggle with daily, for ours is not the kingdom of earth, but the kingdom of heaven.