Summary: What we do is more important than what we say.

Immediate Obedience

Matthew 21:28-32

Rev. Brian Bill


A father wrote about what happened when his son David was about five-years-old. They attended a church where it was common for the preacher to invite children to the front for a special sermon. On one particular morning, he brought up a smoke detector and asked the children if anyone knew what it meant when the alarm went off. David immediately raised his hand and said, “It means Daddy’s cooking dinner.”

Dads are often dissed, aren’t they?

That reminds me of a conversation that took place in another family. The children begged for a hamster; and after the usual promises that they alone would care for it, they got one and named it Danny. Two months later, when Mom realized that she was the only one cleaning up after him and doing all the feeding, she found a new home for it.

The children took the news of Danny’s imminent departure quite well, though the daughter lamented, “He’s been around here a long time. We’ll miss him.” “Yes,” Mom replied, “But he’s too much work for one person, and since I’m that one person, I say he goes.”

Her young son offered an idea, “Well, maybe if he wouldn’t eat so much and not be so messy, we could keep him.” But Mom was firm. “It’s time to take Danny to his new home now,” she insisted. “Go and get his cage.” With tears in their eyes, the children shouted in unison: “Danny?! We thought you said Daddy!” (

Dads are not only dissed, they’re sometimes dismissed.

This week I stopped by the post office to buy some stamps. When I told the worker how many I wanted, he held up a sheet that featured “The Simpson’s.” I asked if he had anything else. He then pulled out some American Flags and said, “No one really wants the Simpson stamps.” I told him that I already struggle to be a good father and I certainly don’t want Homer to be my hero because he’s depicted as out-of-touch, his parenting skills leave a lot to be desired, and his children talk back to him all the time. Using sarcastic sparring, Bart makes it loud and clear that he doesn’t need to listen to his dad.

Dads are not only dissed and dismissed; they’re often disrespected as well.

As we continue in our summer series called, “Practical Parables,” we’re leaning that these stories from the Savior not only teach; they also expose our hearts. This morning we’re going to listen in to a conversation between a dad and his two sons. This dad is dissed, dismissed and disrespected as well. Please turn to Matthew 21:28:32: “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.’ ‘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.’”

This parable is not nearly as well-known as the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan but it packs a punch. It’s short and relatively easy to understand. Before we jump in, let’s put this text in context. It’s now the last week of Jesus’ life and the religious authorities are having a final face-off with Jesus. In particular, they are challenging His authority.

Putting the Text in Context

Matthew 21 begins with Jesus making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In verses 12-17, He clears out the money changers. Verse 15 tells us that the chief priests and teachers of the law become indignant when they see the wonderful things that Jesus did “and the children shouting in the temple area, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’” The next morning Jesus curses the fig tree and then enters the temple again. While He’s teaching, the religious leaders challenge Him by asking where His authority comes from. As Jesus often does, He instead asks them a question in verse 25: “John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They’re afraid to give an answer so they respond by saying, “We don’t know.” Jesus then says, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

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