“The Two Sons”
18 August 2019
Over the last two weeks we have covered lessons that pertain to the losing of our soul and covering our sins. Each and every one of us must have these concerns on our minds every day we are blessed to live on this earth. We must always be thankful that we serve a God who is longsuffering and patient and as we know from 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” This verse brings us to our lesson today which comes from a parable that Jesus taught in the book of Matthew concerning a certain man and his two sons.
Let’s first read Matthew 21:28-32, “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' 29 "He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 "Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. 31 "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 32 "For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.”
In verse 31 Jesus asks, “which of the two did the will of his father?” I’d like to ask that as we go through our study this morning that you ask yourself a similar question, “Have I done or am I doing the will of The Father?” We’ll ask this question again when we conclude our lesson. You see, being in “fellowship” with the Father is the key to having our sins washed away and preventing ourselves from losing our souls to everlasting torment.
At the beginning of Jesus’ parable, he presents a story about a father and his two sons. The father, as is pointed out, owns a vineyard. Similarly, our Father in heaven owns the world and everything therein. The father in the parable commands both of his sons to go and work in the vineyard. This is similar to our Father in Heaven commanding us to work here in this world. In the parable, the first son answered “I will not” but later repented and went. The second son said, “I go sir” and then didn’t. If you notice, the father did issue a command to both sons, it was the same command, to go and work. However, their “free will” gave them the opportunity to obey or disobey. This is the same for all of us today. We are given a command to obey our Father in Heaven, yet He leaves it up to us as to whether we will go or not. As we began our study this morning we recognized God’s desire is for all to come to repentance as we read in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” You see, as the father in the parable wanted both of his sons to work in the vineyard, he gave them the choice to go or not. When it comes to God, He wants all to follow Him, but He will not force us to.
Let’s examine this parable a bit closer. Let’s not forget our question, “Have I done or am I doing the will of The Father?” When we examine the answers of the two sons, we see things on the surface and beneath. When the first son answered “I will not” it reveals a heart of open rebellion. When we read of the second sons answer, “I go, sir,” Judging from the words, we think he was being obedient. However, the sons’ action, or lack thereof reveal the exact opposite. Remember what Jesus said unto the multitude concerning the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:2-3, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” In this instance we had one son say that he would not go, but then he repented and went. The second said he would go and then didn’t. It is quite clear there was something going on in the heart of the first son. Jesus teaches that he “repented” and went. It is quite clear that the first son’s heart was pricked with sorrow when he expressed that he would not go. For ultimately, he changed his mind, and then went. This is exactly what God would have all of us do, “repent” or change our mind, give up our own will, and do His. This is what the father of the two sons wanted. He wanted his two sons to willingly go and work in the vineyard.
You see, God demands repentance as Jesus said in Luke 13:3, “"I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” And God demands obedience as we read in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
In the case of the two sons we must recognize how similar their story is to that of today’s religious world. Along with that, the religious world throughout time. Some say they will do, but do not, and some say they will not, but repent and do. The thing we have to remember is, what counts is full obedience rather than loud talking. As we already pointed out the Sadducees and Pharisees professed religious excellence, but they did not repent nor did they obey the will of God at the preaching of John the Baptist as we read in Matthew 3:7-9, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 "and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
Now, the second part of Jesus parable of the two sons contained some more information we must take heed of. The context of the parable deals with Jesus meeting with the chief priests and the elders of the people. Let’s remember, they asked Jesus by what authority He was doing all the things He was doing. He responded with the baptism of John and where they thought the authority of the baptism of John came from. Remember, these men chose to state, “We cannot tell.” However, they made this decision because first, they didn’t want to have to admit that Jesus was the Messiah, and secondly, they feared the people because of how they regarded John. Listen to what is said in Matthew 21:23-27, “Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" 24 But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 "The baptism of John--where was it from? From heaven or from men?" And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' 26 "But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet." 27 So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
So, the discussions lead Jesus to our parable about the two sons. We can now see how Jesus utilized the parable for His immediate audience. Obviously, the Father represents Our Father in Heaven. The first son represents the tax collectors and harlots, basically, the common people. You see, the common people, tax collectors and harlots, were regarded by the rulers as very carless and disobedient, but when they heard the preaching of John the Baptist they repented and did the will of God as we read in Matthew 3:5-6, “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.” Now the second son represents the rulers. Who basically, “talked the talk” but failed to “walk the walk.” They did exactly as the second son did, they spoke correctly, but they practiced wrong. They did not do the will of the father.
With this simple parable Jesus taught people who were against Him. He kept it very simple and they were able to provide the correct answer to His question in Matthew 21:31, “"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They responded, “The first.” One of the most important things we must always remember, just like the two sons were given the choice to obey their father and either go or not go to work in the vineyard all of man has the same “free Will” to go or not go and work in the vineyard of the Lord. God would that all men would repent and obey Him, but, He will not force anyone to do so. Sadly, there are many religions in the world today that bring a carnal sword and force people into their religion. We must remember that Christianity is a teaching religion, and just as Jesus was trying to teach the chief priests and elders we too are to take full advantage of opportunities that afford themselves to teach others about Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Remember what Jesus commanded His disciples to do in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.” We have Marks account of this command as well in Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
In Psalm 27:11 the Psalmist writes, “Teach me Your way, O LORD,…” From this song we have a song we sing from time to time in our worship that helps us in our efforts to learn more about the Will of the Lord called, “Teach My Thy Way” as Jesus was trying to teach the chief priests and elders, they needed to take on the attitude that is present in this song. The first verse says, “Teach me They way, O Lord, Teach me Thy way! Thy guiding grace afford – Teach me Thy way! Help me to walk aright, More by faith, less by sight; Lead me with heavn’ly light, Teach me thy way!” The second verse says, “When I am sad at heart, Teach me Thy way! When earthly joys depart, Teach me Thy way! In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress, In failure or success, Teach me Thy way!” The third verse says, “When doubt and fears arise, Teach me Thy way! When storms o’er spread the skies, Teach me Thy Way! Shine through the cloud and rain Thru sorrow, toil and pain; Make Thou my pathway plain, Teach me Thy way!” The fourth verse says, “Long as my life shall last, Teach my Thy way! Whate’re my lot be cast, Teach me Thy way! Until the race is run, Until the journey’s done, Until the crown is won, Teach me Thy way!”
As we near the end of our lesson let’s take a moment and ask ourselves our question based upon the question Jesus asked the chief Priests and Elders, “Have I done or am I doing the will of The Father?” This is a solemn question for within the answer you can determine the destination of your soul when this life is over, Heaven or eternal torment. God has made the choice simple for us. He has provided for us His mind for man that we can easily follow and live by on the pages of the New Testament. The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 3:4, “by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),” He goes on to say in Ephesians 5:17, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Well, did you find an answer for yourself to our question? We hope that if you recognize that you haven’t done the will of the Father that you will make the choice to obey Christ and do His Will as it is presented in the Bible. Let us adhere to the “oracles of God as Peter told us in 1 Peter 4:11, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Let us do as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
Let everyone believe Jesus Christ as the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Let everyone hear the Word of God and have the faith described by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:1 and 6, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Let everyone do as Peter told those to do on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Let all confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God as Jesus explains in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” The apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Let all follow the wonderful example of obedience found in Acts 8:36-39 where Philip has been teaching the Ethiopian eunuch, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" 37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” The apostle Paul helps us see the importance of baptism in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” When one has been baptized, their sins are washed away and they rise a new child of God, a Christian. This is where the “walk in newness of life” begins. This new beginning requires a lifetime of service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus says in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.”