Text: Matthew 21:23-32
The chief priests and the elders of the people had a problem with Jesus’ authority. Jesus responded with a complicated question on which they answered: “We don’t know.” (v27) The Parable of the Two Sons was not an answer to their hypocritical question, but a response to their defiant and rebellious attitude. The parable is a mirror in which those to whom Jesus speaks could see themselves as they truly were. The “man” with the two sons is God. The “sons” equate with those whom God has called to be His children. Everyone has the choice of two destinies. Jesus wanted to illustrate the two opposite courses that people could take in response to God’s calling through the Gospel. He frequently made use of various illustrations to contrast these two destinies: the broad way and the narrow way, the rock and the sand of the two builders, the wheat and the chaff, the good and the bad in the dragnet, the wise and foolish virgins and the sheep and the goats.
The father’s invitation was impartial – an invitation to work in the vineyard, but not just any vineyard – it was the father’s vineyard. The first son, like so many of every generation, sought at first to evade his responsibility to do what was right. He was not hypocritical – he was stubborn, rebellious and disobedient. He failed to see that his father wanted the best for him. So he didn’t submit himself to his father. Evading responsibility, unfortunately, does not remove it. He did not obey his father’s command until he regretted, relented and repented of his rebellious spirit. He represented the publicans and harlots (v. 31). There will come a time when we will not be able to change our minds. It is not how one has lived in the past that counts, but what one is doing now.
The second son represented Jesus’ audience – the hypocrites. They pretended respect for God by apparently obeying His commands, but that wasn’t enough to follow Him. They promised to accept the Messiah, but when He came, they rejected Him. It is not enough just to pledge obedience. Lip service is not pleasing to God. The road to hell has always been paved with good intentions. But good intentions are not enough. It’s all about true repentance. It’s about making crucial decisions at the right time. That’s what eventually happened to the first son.
God does not want to force us to obey Him. He is concerned about what we become – not what we were. His ultimate concern is for our spiritual wellbeing. He wants us to obey Him in making the right choices. And if we fail, He gives us the opportunity to correct our wrongs. Like the first son.
That is what the Gospel is all about in a world affected by HIV and AIDS! It’s about a loving Father, eager to assist His people in the decisions they make and helping them to manage the consequences of the choices they have made.
To think about: Do you trust God for the choices you make in life, as well as for managing the consequences of the decisions you have made?