Sunday, February 19, 2012
Obeying God’s Will II
The Two Sons
There was a man, Jesus said, who had two sons. He asked the first to go and work in his vineyard, but the son refused. Later, however, he changed his mind and went to work. When the other son was approached, he agreed to go, but in fact did not do so.
Jesus then asked his audience, “Which of the two did the father’s will?”
His listeners answered that it was the first son, who had actually carried out the work of his father had requested him to do.
Jesus made the story’s application clear — that “sinners” were entering the kingdom in the place of Jews who regarded themselves as pious: “For John came to you, showing the way of uprightness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did.”
Mark (11:27-33) and Luke (20:1-8) also recount the incident in the Temple when the chief priests, as well as the scribes and “elders”, challenged Jesus’ authority for his actions. But they do not retell this parable. On the other hand, Matthew seems to have placed it here to show Jesus reinforcing his assertion that the Jews’ religious leaders, despite their professed obedience to the will of God, were actually disobedient to it. On the other hand, those generally despised by society, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes, had repented and turned to God in response to the preaching of John the Baptist.