Summary: This is about the parable of the two sons.
Passion Week Act 3 Teaching
Jesus spent a great deal of time his last week on earth teaching. In this time we have the Great Commandment, the sheep and the goats, the signs of the end of the age, and many other famous teachings of Jesus.
Read Matthew 21:28-32.
We have here a clear simple story. We have two sons: one says he won’t work and later does; the other says he will work and then doesn’t. The meaning is obvious. We have four things to look at.
1. The command: “GO and WORK”
The father in the story represents God. There is a double command here. The father spoke with authority, and he expected immediate obedience. It wasn’t a suggestion: “If you have time today in your busy schedule, would you please go and work.”
There is no middle ground in responding to this command. It’s either “yes” or “no.” There is no partial obedience.
2. The first son: DISSENT followed by OBEDIENCE
The first son responds that he wouldn’t go, but he later thought better of his reaction and went to work for his father.
A. The reply was RUDE
His answer is direct and curt. He is flat out rude in his response. “Heck no, I won’t go!” No doubt those words stung the father like a dagger to the heart. How could his son be so rude?
Who knows why he responded in this way? Maybe he had something else to do or somewhere else to go. It could be that he was like many of us who say, “I won’t do it because you asked me to do it.” Just because his dad asked he refused. We don’t know. It doesn’t mater why he said what he said. The fact is that he said it.
B. Change of mind: “Maybe I should GO.”
Some time after the confrontation with his dad, the son thought better of his harsh words. He went to the vineyard and worked as his father had asked.
I remember being asked as a kid to do something and saying, “No way,” and later rethinking what I had said, only to go and do what mom and dad asked me to do. I see the same thing in my kids.
Ultimately the first son obeyed although it was delayed. The obedience, although delayed, no doubt helped relieve the sting of the son’s harsh words, but he still hadn’t totally pleased his dad. He still had been rude and disrespectful with his father.
3. The second son: CONSENT followed by DISOBEDIENCE
The second son said that he would obey his father’s command, but then decided for whatever reason not to go and work.
A. The reply was POLITE
This son was most respectful when speaking to his father. He even called his father “sir.” I don’t think I have ever called my dad “sir.” It’s not that I don’t respect him, but I just have never called him that. No doubt the father was filled with pride at the response of this son, especially after the first son had so rudely disrespected him. “Yes, sir! Right away, sir.”
This son had the “Eddie Haskell” complex. I had a friend when I was in high school that was like that. He would say, “Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am” all the time. He knew the right thing to say so people would think he was “such a nice boy.”
The second son was an “Eddie Haskell.” He knew what to say so his father would be proud of him. Like the first son, he had a…
B. Change of mind: “Yeah, WHATEVER.”
What happened after he said, “I go, sir”? Who knows? Maybe he got distracted doing something else. Maybe he saw a pretty girl. Maybe a friend came by. The point is that he ultimately did not obey the request of his father.
More often I fell into this category than the other. “Yes, mom, I’ll clean my room.” I would say that only to get distracted by my G. I. Joe’s, baseball cards, or the TV. I see this in my kids, too. I see this in the students that I teach.
It’s easy to say we’ll do something and then not do it. It’s easy to be this second son. Although it will eventually come back on us.
4. Jesus’ teaching: ANSWER and APPLICATION
Jesus asks his hearers which son did what the father wanted. Who did the will of the father? The answer should be obvious. The first son did what the father asked, even though his initial response was to say “no.” Despite the fact that son #2 said the right thing with the utmost respect, he ultimately disappointed his father because he did nothing.
A. Talk is CHEAP
Neither son did what he said he would do. The first said he wouldn’t work, but he did. The second said he would work, but he didn’t.