The Two Sons

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32)

This week we will look at one of three Parables that Jesus told in reply to the religious leaders during His final week in Jerusalem. They are “The Two Sons,” “The Wicked Vinedresser,” and “The Wedding Feast.” Today we will look at the Parable “The Two Sons.”

In this Parable we see the story of a father who had two sons and he also had a vineyard that he cared for. The father tells each of his sons to go and work in the vineyard. The first son told the father that he would not but later regretted it and went to work in the vineyard. The second son told his father that he would go but he did not.

In the explanation of Jesus He began with a question “Which of the two did the will of his father?” The religious leaders thinking the answer to be obvious answered the first son did the will of the father. Jesus then gave a very direst answer to the religious leaders. Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him”

This Parable is being applied to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who were like the second son. They said that they would go and work in the Lord’s vineyard but did not go. In comparison to the religious leaders the tax collectors and harlots when hearing the preaching of John the Baptist repented and were like the first son who first refused and then in regret went to work in the Lord’s vineyard.

This was probably very shocking to the religious leaders that the ones they despised the most would enter the Kingdom of God before them. We gain some insight into this in the Gospel of Luke. “When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.” Luke 7:29-30) The tax collectors and other sinners accepted the teaching of John the Baptist and became justified by God. Whereas the religious leaders would not believe what John the Baptist was teaching and rejected his message. Therefore, they had “rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.”

The main point of this Parable is that we are not just speakers of the Word of God but we must be doers of His Word. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) In a commentary by William Hendriksen says it this way. “That lesson is, of course, this:  the doing of the will of God is the one thing needful.” In our prayers each day we pray “Thy will be done.” God’s will shall be done! The question for us is are we living in His will?

In other places Jesus addressed this truth that we are not just hears of His Word but that we must obey His Word. You may recall these verses from the Sermon on the Mount. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:21; 24)

We also see the importance of this truth in the commission of the disciples just before the ascension of Jesus when He gave them the Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) If there is a measure of our greatness in the Kingdom of God, then it will be measured by our obedience.

Many today in the Christian faith have become listeners of the doctrine of cheap grace, and the feel good messages from the pulpit of some Churches. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for those who are committed to repentance. Those who desire with their heart to turn from the ways of the world and walk in the ways of God. It is on that walk that many fail to act on His Word. Many profess Jesus as the Lord of their life but do not do what He says. “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) They are like the second son they say they will or are but they are not committed to the will of the Father.

Some have a misunderstanding of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Others have the misguided thought that obedience to God’s commands is legalism or salvation by works. This is far from the truth. Keeping the commandments of God is essential to their working out their salvation. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

Keeping the commandments of God is essential as the Apostle John writes. “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” (1 John 2:3-5)

Keeping God’s Word is in no way earning our salvation least we could boast. Keeping God’s commandments is an act of love for God our Savior and it is our duty, as it was for the first son. Our reward is eternal life, the protection of God’s providence. These things cannot be bought in this world and are ours throughout eternity by God’s grace. Obeying the Word of God is our effort in the Holy Spirits work of Sanctification by the renewing of our mind. It is our duty as servants of the Most High God. “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.” (Luke 17:10)

The Christian is an instrument in the hands of God to do the good works of His Kingdom here in this world. We must be about His business as it is our first priority in this life and the greater life to come. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, December 15, 2016

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