Matthew 21:28 – 32 There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Have you ever been puzzled at how two people, from the same family, can turn out so differently? My husband and his brother look alike, but their personalities are as different as night and day. They are both wonderful men . . . just different.
The two sons in this parable are very different as well. Neither one is perfect. The first one fails to show his father the respect he deserves. He actually responds to his father’s request with rebellion! Later, though, he does the right thing and honors his request.
The second son is more conniving, less honest than the first. He readily agrees to his father’s request with a hearty, “Yes, sir!” But he never follows through. He is all talk and no action.
Friends, Jesus is comparing the first son to the “sinners” of the world. The un-churchy people. You know the ones – they hang out in the bars and do all sorts of things that good, “holy” people aren’t supposed to do. On the surface, they appear resistant to God. They come across as rebellious.
Yet, they are honest about who they are and what they believe. And often, God gets hold of those people, and they end up serving Him with genuine faith.
I hate to tell you this, but the second son . . . well, he is an example of the religious people. The churchy people. (Yikes. That would be me.)
They pay Him lip service, but when it comes right down to it, they don’t honor Him. They sit in church and sing lovely songs about Him. They listen to the preacher, and they may even throw in an “Amen” or two for good measure.
Then we go on our happy ways, and we do whatever we please, without a thought for what God may want us to do.
Now, let me ask you something. Who would you rather have on your team?
That’s what I thought. And God feels the same way.
In this parable, Jesus wasn’t saying all church people are hypocrites. Nor was He saying that all un-churchy people are righteous.
He was just trying to make a point, trying to get us to put our money where our mouths are.
He wants us to serve Him with genuine, honest faith. He doesn’t have any use for our empty words.
Dear Father, Thank You for this reminder. Please help me to live what I say I believe.