Date Written: July 29, 2008
Date Preached: July 30, 2008
Where Preached: OPBC (Wed PM)
Sermon Series: A Study of the Parables
Sermon Title: The Parable of the 2 Sons
Sermon Text: Matt 21:28-32
28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.
How often do we tell God, “I’ll do it, but we never get around to it…or we drag our feet so badly that God has to be a constant reminder for us to do what we need to do…”
In our passage tonight we read a parable that Jesus used to reveal a story about obedience. In this parable we find a father calling his 2 sons to go out into the field to work for him. We find a son who says that he is going to obey and then choose NOT to obey, then we find a son who says he is NOT going to obey, but repents and changes direction and does obey.
Those of us who are parents we all know and understand where Jesus is coming from in this particular passage. Obedience always seems to be an issue for us parents; I have had my share of ‘obedience’ issues with my children as I am sure all of you have. I once heard a story about a man who had trouble getting his son to clean his room.
The dad would insist that the son, “Do it right now!” and the son would always immediately agree to do it, but when Dad walked away the son wouldn’t follow through… However, after high school, the son decided to join the Marines. He enlisted and went to boot camp.
When his father flew out for graduation and they were on the plane together coming home for his leave after boot camp, he looked at his dad and said, “Dad, my life really makes sense now. I can’t believe I am saying this but everything you said and did when I was growing up now makes total sense to me. I want you to know that I really, really understand. Oh yeah, Dad in boot camp, I totally learned what ‘now’ means.”
Far too often God calls us to his vineyard and calls us to a particular duty and we give God the ‘brush off’ and say, “I’ll get to it in a minute God!” In our prayer we may say, “Yes” to God but deep in our hearts and soul, we say, “When I get the time…”
As a pastor I have see that far too often, believers’ attitudes are, “How far can I go and still be called a Christian?” We want to believe ourselves to be obedient and pure, but our actions reveal that we do what we want to do and that we want to avoid the hard work of being obedient to the call of Christ in our lives!
In looking at this parable we can see a dichotomy of decision. 1st we see the platitude offered by the 1st son who said, “Sure Dad, I’ll go…” knowing full well that he did not want to go and never intends to go…
2nd we can see the defiant response of the so called radical son in challenging his father’s authority by telling him, “No, I am NOT going to go and work in the field!” But conviction sets in and he surrenders to the calling of his father and repents of his defiance and goes out into the field to work.
This parable can be seen as a forthtelling story that represents the church in general. The vineyard represented the nation of Israel for a long time, and here it could still represent them…however, context leads us to believe that the vineyard is like the garden plot of the parable of the soils… it is the world and the seed has been planted and the master has watered that seed and a harvester needs to be sent out to harvest the crop.
Our first worker tells God he WILL “go out into the field and harvest” but he does not, the 2nd worker tells God NO I am not going to do it, changes his mind, repents and submits to the command of the Father.
This is a picture of the church of today…so many of us ‘say’ one thing to God but deliver a totally different result to Him! Even when we are obedient to Him, I believe that our obedience to God is not always a mature obedience. Let me explain what I mean…
So often our obedience to God is like that of a 5 or 6 year old child! I can remember my children at about that age and they would shock me by offering to do some chore around the house… seemingly just because it needed to be done.
I would think to myself, “WOW what a father I have become… I have taught them to take on responsibilities and take pride in their chores.” And then I would watch them do what they had asked needed to be done!
But it didn’t take long for reality to hit me square between the eyes. My children would come up to me and say something like, “Dad, it sure is hot out there, do you think we can go swimming?” OR “Dad, can we go to Burger King today?” and then I realize what had just happened… I had been set up! By my 5 yr old!
So I had to ask myself the question, “Were they only doing those chores because they hoped to gain something, or were they doing it out of the joy of obedience? I believe that many times when we react in obedience to God, is it because we are trying to set God up?
It’s because we desire something. Now that is NOT how we are called to live, but we have to ask ourselves, “Are we obedient out of passion for Christ OR is it because we want something?”
So many times we believe that we are going to be put to shame because we are obedient to the ‘chore’ that Jesus has called us to do, but God has promised that His word never returns void and that He will always be with us, regardless of what happens.
The point I want to make here is that there are going to be times when we struggle, suffer and slip in our walk with Him. There are going to be times when obedience is going to put us in a place where we may be uncomfortable in what God has called us to do… BUT we must persevere and be obedient. We can find many examples of obedience in Scripture… but I want us to look at the example of Noah for just a moment…
I believe that we could make Noah the poster child for obedience to God. But have you ever wondered if Noah ever felt foolish out there building that boat? Have you ever thought that Noah had days when he thought about quitting?
For Noah, building this boat was a huge step of obedience because when God commanded his obedience…there was no water around where he lived and it had never rained… so you can imagine how he felt…
Now many of us obey out of a sense of fear of God because we don’t want to be punished… this is what I mean when I say that many Christians have an immature obedience to God. Our obedience should never be out of fear of God, but out of love for God.
Yes we should have a healthy fear of God because of who He is… but we know He loves us and because of His love for us, manifested in Christ Jesus on the Cross… we should respond in obedience to Him.
I once heard it put like this…"Religion is manmade and in religion we obey so we can be accepted by God. However, Christianity, revealed through Christ and the gospel is of God and from God, and based on the Gospel we know that we are accepted and because of that we are free to obey God…”
Now the master who sends us into the vineyard is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… it is He who chooses our task and thru the presence of the Holy Spirit communicates that command to our hearts. We are called to serve God in His vineyard… we are called by God to serve Him at His request and doing what He has required!
Servants are not called by their master and then negotiate what they can or cannot do… or what they will or will not do! The master gives the command and the servant complies with that command or he is disciplined. God calls us to service and in His calling there is NO room for negotiation!
So the question you have to ask yourself tonight is this… Am I the believer that tells God what He wants to hear and then fail to follow up… OR am I the believer that even though there are times when I may say NO to God, I will repent from my way and submit to His way and be obedient to His call? Which are you?
Or here is an even better scenario…how about when God reveals to your heart to do something for Him… something that is in line with Scripture… something that is not contradictory to His Word… you are obedient and faithful to DO what He is calling you to do!
Thomas A’Kempis once said that immediate obedience is the only type of obedience we should have for our Savior…any hesitation in obedience is dis-obedience! Are you obedient in your walk with Christ?