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Matthew 21:28-32: Parable of Two Sons

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 23, 2012


Matthew 21:28-32 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ (29) The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. (30) Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. (31) “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. (32) For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.

Jesus accomplished what He had set out to do. The clamor from the priests cleaning up the court and reassembling their religious articles was most disruptive to Jesus’ teaching. They did not want to enter into a dialog with Jesus without a prepared debate. His question to them about John the Baptist reminded them of previous encounters. Jesus knew He had their attention, the opportune time to share another parable.

Jesus presented His parable in the form of a question. “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway.” Jesus hesitated for a moment to see if they were paying attention. He had mentioned two sons, and thus far had only explained one. The priest gathered in a circle to formulate an answer. Just as they were about to provide an answer, Jesus continued the parable. “Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. “Which of the two obeyed his father?” After discussing the first son and hearing the remainder of the parable, the priest felt confident enough to provide a quick and clear answer. “The first.” They thought that was the end of the lesson, but Jesus added, “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.” Everyone could see the expression on the faces of the priests instantly change. Before they had a chance to retaliate by hurling insults at Jesus, He continued His lesson. “For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.”

James was still standing at the gate observing the two sides. He could clearly understand how John the Baptist may have been the reluctant son who went to work in God’s vineyard, the world, or maybe it was Jesus’ other followers. James remembered the interpretation from previous parables Jesus had taught. He could easily see how the priests were the second son, the one who seemed eager to work, but had no intention of carrying out the wishes of the father. James could see how that son was more interested in ease and comfort than honest work. He could see how this easily applied to the priests.

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