Summary: A straightforward, evangelical call to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ
I. Context: Jesus’ opponents have come to question him. To trick him.
A. They did this a lot. This is an HONOR CHALLENGE. Jesus wins.
B. Jesus goes from defense to offense with this parable. It is about them.
i. In fact, Jesus continues on offense with another parable after this one, which makes them want to kill him.
II. Immediate key
A. The First Son is fulfilled in the tax collectors and harlots who believed John the Baptist and repented.
i. They had spent their entire lives saying NO to God. At John’s preaching, they repented/changed their minds/regretted their actions and believed.
ii. Note: “Believing” fulfills the parable’s “vineyard work.” V.32
B. The Second Son is the Chief Priests and elders.
i. Made their livelihood out of convincing everyone that they had done a marvelous job of saying YES to God.
ii. Had failed to really understand what God was calling them to: thus failed to really obey.
III. Historic “Key”
A. The nation of Israel spent a lot of time playing the role of the 2nd Son. They had been called uniquely to do the work of God in the world. Never quite got a handle on it. Never managed to really get it done.
“To them pertain the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all…”
i. If ever a nation was called to do the work of God in the world, it was Israel, and they spent a lot of time performing ceremonies in which they said YES to God.
ii. Yet, by the time Christ came, the judgment of the Holy Spirit upon them was this: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” They said YES with their mouths, but their feet walked in the direction of NO.
IV. Today’s dynamic fulfillment
A. Which son are you?
i. A lot of us here today are Christians, and have been for a lot of years. At its most basic level, Christianity is about realizing that God is here calling you as a son, to do the work of believing in Jesus Christ. Christianity is about saying YES to God, not only with our mouths, but with our hands, our feet, our hearts, our checkbooks, our priorities, our passions, our relationships, our occupations….
ii. This parable makes me uneasy. Designed that way? The bad son here was originally the whole group of Church Guys. The guys who had the reputation for having said YES to God and doing all the good churchy things. They were the bad son!
iii. Can’t tell you whether or not your heart’s answer has matched up with your mouth’s YES in every area. Mine has not. Simply saying that today is the day to turn some things around and start getting it right.
B. But maybe you’re more like the first son. Before I talk to you about that, I want to say that I am thrilled to be talking about Jesus at a truckstop on the outskirts of the armpit of New Mexico. Why? Because I’m convinced this is where Jesus would go if He were still in the flesh among us.