Summary: Two kinds of people are represented in the story, a bad attitude can spoil a good act, but God always honors repentance.
The Two Sons Matt. 21:28-32
INTRO.: Jesus was facing the cross. This story was told on Monday before He died on Friday. Huge crowds had hailed Him as He entered Jerusalem the day before. He cast the merchants out of the temple and healed blind and lame sufferers. Then He retreated to Bethany and spent the night there.
As He returned to Jerusalem Monday morning, He cursed the Barron fig tree so that it died and withered away. This was an object lesson for the Jewish leaders, teaching the danger of fruitlessness. Them He entered the temple and began to teach.
The chief priests and elders of the people confront Him about His authority and He questions them about John the Baptist in verses 22-27. This is important because He refers to it in the passage before us.
Some important observations that may help us serve the Lord more effectively:.
I. There are two kinds of people represented in Jesus’ story:
A. Those who don’t live up to their promises:
1. For some people, life is a continual New Years with many resolutions that are broken quickly.
2. Literally hundreds of people have told me, "I’ll see you Sunday" and never show up. Many have even called for directions Sunday morning and not come.
3. Many can tell you how to live and yet don’t practice what they preach.
4. The Priests and Elders were like this. Jesus called them hypocrites. Matt. 23:1-3
B. Those whose actions are better than their words:
1. People who say, "I won’t make any promises, but . . ."
2. Church members who won’t make any commitment, They will work when no one else will, but you can’t plan on them until the last minute.
3. Their help is a pleasant surprise. Their change of mind is certainly preferable to the hypocrisy of those who say they will and don’t in tend to work.
C. Neither of them is right, although one is preferred above the other.
1. They both demonstrate disrespect for their father, at least in the beginning.
2. Jesus doesn’t endorse either son’s response. He simply uses the answer of the Scribes to make His point.
3. If Jesus had asked which son made his father happy the answer would be neither.
4. The ideal is to both talk the talk and walk the walk. Matt. 5:37. James 5:12.
II. A bad attitude or bad motives, will spoil a good act.
A. The older brother would have been appreciated more if he had said "yes".
1. His sharp response even looks disrespectful in print. It isn’t hard to imagine his tone of voice. "I will not"
2. Why did he change his mind? Who knows. He definitely showed a bad attitude, at least in the beginning.
3. If he was grudging or resentful in doing the work, he probably insulted his father.
4. Some people act like they make a terrible sacrifice to work for the Lord. They demand recognition.
B. Ananias and Sapphira provide an example: Acts 5:1-10
1. They put on a good show bringing their money to the Lord.
2. They lied to get recognition for themselves. Acts 5:3
3. They did a good thing in giving to the poor but it was spoiled by their lie.
C. Another example is Simon the magician in Samaria. Acts 8:18
1. He was a good man who made a bad mistake. He may have had good intentions.
2. He repented and asked for prayer when he was confronted with his mistake.
3. To receive the Holy Spirit and minister it to others is a good thing, but Simon spoiled it by offering money for the gift.
4. Even when we do God’s work, we need to be careful we are doing it in His way.
III. God always honors repentance: This is the great note of grace in this parable.
A. The older son did what his father asked.
1. He became the lesson for the Priests and Elders. Empty profession will not please God.
2. Chief priests and elders are represented by the son who only professed to obey then disobeyed.
3. Although the elder son started out badly, his work would be accepted by the father.
4. This change of mind that led to a change of behavior is called repentance in the Bible.
B. The prostitutes and tax collectors will be accepted for they repented.
1. They would enter the Kingdom of God before the Priests and Elders, who didn’t believe John the Baptist and accept God’s call to repentance.
2. We’ve all seen some really bad people come to know Jesus and reverse the course of their lives. Their testimony is powerful.
3. But, wouldn’t it be better if they had said, "yes" to Jesus from the beginning.