Summary: Even Johnnie Cochran couldn’t get a jury to enter a ’not guilty verdict’ for a person who never accepts Christ.
“What the Road to Hell Is Paved With”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
I remember a conversation I once had with my freshman roommate in college.
He said, “I would be more than happy to be over in some foreign country--feeding the hungry--giving my
life for the needs of others.”
My reply was: “If you would be more than happy to do that...then why aren’t you doing that?”
“Good point,” he answered.
The parable of the Two Sons is part of the confrontation that Jesus had with the religious authorities in
Jesus was asked by what authority He conducted His ministry...
...Jesus answered their question with His own inquiry about the source of John the Baptist’s ministry.
They could not reveal their true feelings about John, and so they had to reply that they did not know
whether John’s baptism was of God or not.
Jesus also refuses to tell them the source of His authority and then He tells them the parable of the
The story is crystal clear.
It is a direct challenge to the Pharisees in their legalism and to the Sadduccees in their pretended devotion
to the temple.
So, Jesus begins the parable with a question: “What do you think?”
Christ wants us to see the Truth of God as it is revealed in life’s story.
Our minds are limited but God wants us to go as far as we possibly can in pursuit of His divine Truth.
The first son in this parable is guilty of the sin of overt rebellion...
...He, at first, refused to obey his father’s request that he work in the vineyard, but later he repented.
The second son showed outward respect for his father and said he would go, but he never did.
The second son was guilty of the sin of covert (or secret) rebellion and he didn’t repent.
Another way to put it is that the second son was guilty of the sin of good intentions--not carried out.
He was not insincere: he probably intended to obey....he just never did.
And this is often our problem as well.
How many projects have we agreed to be a part of that never get started...?....
....How many of us have agreed to serve on a committee--when asked--only to never show up for the meetings?
How many people tell themselves and God that they will someday give their lives over to Christ...and then
never ever get around to doing it?
I remember a conversation I had with a family member of mine many years ago....
....she was probably getting about ready to finish college...
....I asked her if she planned to join a church....
....her answer: “Not right now, but I definitely will when I have children.”...
...her oldest child is now 6, and she is still not a member of a church.
For many of us, Christianity appeals to our reason, especially now as we see the tragic outcomes of an
unChristian way of life.
Christianity appeals to our emotions: we are drawn to Jesus as He dies pierced in lonely love.
Worship kindles our dormant souls...
...so we vow obedience....
...But today is too soon, and the discipline of trying to live our faith is too hard.
So, although many have pledged their response to Christ...many do not go.
This parable holds a clear warning: even for those who profess to believe in Christ....If they do not ever
really make the decision to give their lives to Him....they will go to hell!
The first son in this parable was rebellious but, at least, he was open and honest about it.
The second son, perhaps, didn’t have the guts to say “No.” This is a cowardly and dishonest kind of
The honest and open rebellion was practiced by the tax collectors and prostitutes....
...the second type of rebellion was practiced by the religious breed.
The tax collectors and prostitutes knew they were sinners...heck, they even admitted it, but the religious
sinners disguised their rebellion under a religious cloak.
A French moralist once wrote: “Almost all your faults are more pardonable than the methods you think
up to hide them.”
Could this be the case with any of us?
The first son had been curt and rebellious....he chose his own will...
...And who among us has not done the same thing?
The key is that he repented!
This means that he had meditated on life, and faced the facts.
It also means that he had to lay aside his pride.
Why is it that so many of us are not greatly ashamed to sin, but we are greatly ashamed to confess our
Pride dies hard...
...but this son admitted his wrong without any attempt at making excuses....