Summary: True obedience is based on action not words.
A Messiah's Story About Obedience
Text: Matt. 21:28-32
1. Illustration: I used to have problems getting my son to clean his room. I would insist that he, "Do it now," and he would always agree to do so, but then he wouldn’t follow through – at least, not right way. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps, which is where he is now. When he and I were on the plane together coming home for his leave after Boot Camp, he said to me, "My life makes sense now, Dad. Everything you said and did when I was growing up now makes sense. I really, really understand." "Oh yeah, Dad," he added. "I learned what ‘now’ means."
2. Immediate obedience is always the preference, but delayed obedience is better than no obedience at all.
3. In our text today, Jesus tells the story of two kinds of obedience...
a. Contrasting obedience
b. Resulting obedience
4. Read Matt. 21:28-32
Proposition: True obedience is based on action not words.
Transition: First, he talks about...
I. Contrasting Obedience (28-30).
A. What Do You Think?
1. Jesus wanted to deal with the spiritual bankruptcy of the religious leaders in Israel. So he does what he does so well, he tells a story to illustrate it.
2. He asks them, “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’"
a. This is the first of three parables that is aimed at the religious leaders. Notice the word "you" in verses 28 and 31.
b. In the first two parables, the vineyard is a reference to Israel, and the problem with the religious leaders was not only the inconsistency of their behavior, but also their failure to fulfill their God-given roles as leaders of Israel (France, 803).
c. This story is about a Father who has two sons and asks them to go work in the family vineyard.
d. Ancient Mediterranean culture demanded that sons honor and obey their parents, especially when they still lived on the father's estate (Keener, 318).
e. The Father had a right to ask his sons to work. It was good work, and as it was a family business, they had a stake in the outcome of the vineyard.
f. In those days they would live in the village, but the vineyard would be a little ways outside of town (Horton, 455).
3. So the father goes to the first son and he "answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway."
a. The first son's response was rude, thoughtless, and self-centered and is typical of all who live in open rebellion against God and His Word.
b. There is nothing here to consider commendable about his response or his attitude.
c. Some people think that God will forgive simply because they are open and upfront about their sin. Yet, a blatant sinner is no less a sinner than a secret one.
d. Both forms of sin will send you to the same hell.
e. However, after thinking about it for a while, the son repents of his sin, and decides to do what his father requested of him.
f. Changed his mind: to change one's mind about something, with the probable implication of regret (Louw and Nidda, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains).
g. This is what it means to repent.
h. The word appears only five times in the NT, two of which are in the passage.
i. The action shows that the son had come to his senses, felt bad about the way he treated his father, rejected his selfish attitude, and did the will of his father.
4. Then the father goes to the other son and "the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go."
a. The first son gives the first impression of being obedient.
b. In fact, he is even polite and respectful about it. He tells his father, "yes sir, I will."
c. However, his polite response is shallow, empty, and meaningless because he doesn't go after he said that he would go.
d. Jesus held up a mirror to his critics.
e. They were like the second son who to his father's face said, "yes sir," but when he back was turned did whatever he wanted.
f. They incriminated themselves with their answer to his question (Horton, 455).
g. Obedience is about lip service; it's about action.
B. Lordship of Christ
1. Illustration: The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death... we give over our lives to death. Since this happens at the beginning of the Christian life, the cross can never be merely a tragic ending to an otherwise happy religious life. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time... death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at His call. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and His call are necessarily our death and our life (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship).