Are we being honest with Jesus? with ourselves? He knows our hearts whether we mean what we say or not.
26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.
The next three parables were an indictment to the religious establishment. They show the thoughts and intents of the leaders’ hearts, which was not about serving the Lord, but about serving themselves at the people’s expense. Let’s study the first one.
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind [regretted-NASB, repented-KJV] and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 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. Matthew 21:28-32
- I like the way Jesus began by inviting His listeners to give their opinion. He was in classic Teacher mode.
- The first son said that he would not go, but then repented and went. Jesus’ first sermon was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” Matthew 4:17. This son did the will of the Father by repenting and trusting in the Son in order to gain the kingdom of heaven.
- The second son said he would go, but then didn’t. We can surmise that Jesus was referring to the religious leaders. The work was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. Believing in Him was crucial to pleasing God. The religious leaders were all about pleasing God according to the Law–as long as it met their own agenda, which was control of the people and the treasury. In order to stay in control, they had to work with the Roman government. Being obedient to Roman law was one thing, but using their influence and connections to wield power–especially against Jesus–was quite another matter. They didn’t want a Messiah; they wanted to remain in their positions of leadership and power.
- In a sense, both sons said “no:” one with his words and the other with his deeds. Both needed to repent, which was Jesus’ point.
- “Ahead of you” – Jesus was still talking to the chief priests and the elders of the people from verse 23. He didn’t pull any punches, did He? They wouldn’t answer Him about John the Baptist, so He called them on it: “John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him” v.32. Wow! They would have done better to have answered Jesus and taken their lumps from the people. They were exposed either way!
I wonder what it was like to see the change in tax collectors and prostitutes after they were baptized by John the Baptist, and then to believe in Jesus as Messiah according to John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:29. How about us? Are we different since we were baptized for believing in Jesus? In order to be like the first son, we must repent of anything that is not in keeping with the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Jesus) in our lives. How do we discern what these things are? By listening to His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:10-18, Isaiah 30:21), reading His Word (Psalm 19:7-11), and then listening again.
Let’s be about the Father’s business today.
Abba, since You called me, I have sought to do Your will–except for those two years in Junior High where I got off-course–and to learn all I can from Your Word. Having a repentant heart is good for me; help me to keep it. May I treasure Your Word as more precious than pure gold and honey from the honeycomb; “by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward,” (Psalm 19:7-11) which is knowing You and partnering with You. You lead; I’ll follow. Amen.