20. The Two Sons
How the Gospel of God’s
Kingdom Works In Us
The Parable of the Two Sons
(Only in Matthew 21:28-32).
A father had two sons and asked them to work in his vineyard. The first said NO, but then changed his mind (he repented) and went to work. The second readily told his father YES, that he would work, but then didn’t do it. This is about the choices we make.
This is the chapter of Jesus entry into Jerusalem just before his crucifixion. He was worshipped by the people, but not by the authorities. First of all he cleansed the temple of its corruption (vs 12-17). Then he cursed a fig tree representing Israel as a religious enterprise but lacking spiritual substance (vs 18-22). He was confronted by the Pharisees about his right to do they things he did (vs 23-27).
In this context, Jesus tells three parables. First is this parable of the two sons. Second is the parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard, which we’ll discuss soon. Third is the parable of the Wedding Feast at the start of chapter 22, which we’ll also discuss. But they all three pronounce judgment on Israel for not accepting the Messiah (Jesus) that God sent.
God sees two groups of people in the parable of the two sons. Religious, non-gospel folks are the second son. He said YES, that he would obey, but then did not do so. Paul says, “They do not all obey the gospel” (Rom 10:16). The fact is that many give lip-service to the gospel, and say they believe it, but they really don’t. Many don’t even know what it is. They just want to do their own thing.
The other group is like the hard, stony and busy hearts of the Parable of the Sower. They initially are too busy or too preoccupied to care about God’s gospel, but they repent and change their mind.
Paul describes this (II Tim 2:25-26). He first talks of ‘instructing those who oppose themselves.’ When we don’t believe, live and obey gospel truth this is how God sees us — opposing ourselves. The gospel is given to us to bless us (Acts 3:26). When we live by law, or any other religious concoction, Paul says we are cursed (Gal 3:10). NOTE: If we don’t live gospel truth then it’s like we ‘oppose ourselves.’
II Timothy 2:25 goes on to say they must seek God for repentance to acknowledge (gospel) truth. Again, anytime ‘truth’ is mentioned, it means GOSPEL truth. Jesus only came to bring ONE truth! He coined the term ‘gospel’ to describe it! This is the gospel truth we’re told to OBEY. This is a picture of the first son: he said NO initially, but he changed his mind. Thus he repented and obeyed.
This is what we must do. If you haven’t given place to the gospel,
you’ve said NO to Jesus. It’s time to repent!
Don’t be like the second son who said he’d obey
(believe his dad), but then didn’t.
Remember: Jesus is returning to judge those who
do not obey his gospel (II Thes 1:7-9).
Our job is to believe, which means obey (John 6:29).
We cannot obey what we do not believe.
II Timothy 2:26 is very revealing, and also very disturbing: “That they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who have been taken captive by him at his will. Satan blinds minds to the glorious gospel of Christ (II Cor 4:3-4).
The implication in Timothy is that, if we do not OBEY the gospel, we are captives in Satan’s snare. Verse 25 says we have to repent to get out of it, and God must give us the power to repent. Are you living a gospel life? Are you separated to the gospel (Rom 1:1)? If not, it’s time to repent and obey.
Remember: my purpose is not to totally discuss each parable. It is to only
show the gospel in each parable, and how it practically impacts us.
This is the last parable of this first group of parables:
“How The Gospel of God’s Kingdom Works In Us”
Next we will begin the second group of parables:
“The Importance of the Gospel of God In Our Lives”