Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Two Sons

My Scripture text today comes from:  MATTHEW 21:23-32
I remember a conversation I once had with my first roommate.   She 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,” she answered.

The parable of the Two Sons is part of the confrontation that Jesus had with the religious authorities in the temple.  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  Two Sons. 
This 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 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 are not going to make it to heaven!

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
rebellion.  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 sin?

Let me tell you folks….Pride dies hard......but this son admitted his wrong without any attempt at making excuses........and then he went...the key here is....and then he went!  Can we see ourselves in this parable?

Jesus told this parable against the religious leaders of Jerusalem... the opposition closed in around Him.  The religious leaders came up with the right answer to Jesus’ question but they didn’t see themselves in the story. They couldn’t imagine that they were the disobedient ones who said all the right things but failed to
follow through.  Yes, pride is the great enemy.

Jesus wanted to convey a critical message to them, a message that would determine their eternal destiny.  He was asking them….What does it take to enter God’s kingdom?

It’s not only profession and righteousness, but it is also repentance and belief!  Christ asked the religionists standing around which of the two sons did the Father’s will.  Their immediate response to Christ’s question is interesting.......They demonstrated by their answer just how much pride and self-righteousness can blind a
person---giving a false sense of security.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead
of you.”

It is important to pay close attention to the Lord’s words...
....He said “ahead of you.”  He was not shutting the door of heaven to the self-righteous, the false religionist, the false professor....
....they just could not enter God’s kingdom the way they presently were.  So let me ask this…..
Can we enter God’s kingdom the way we presently are?

As Christ said in the next verse, those He was speaking to lacked one thing, and they must do that one thing in order to enter God’s kingdom. As usual, Jesus shocked His audience! He declared that human being’s idea of religion is wrong! Religion and righteousness is not enough to enter God’s kingdom. Good intentions are not enough. It takes more!!!

Christ shockingly declared to the religionists and the self-righteous that what they have is not enough---it takes more......something else is needed!

In verse 32 Jesus says: “John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” Repentance and belief is what is needed to enter God’s kingdom! We are all sinners, and none of us can save ourselves! What it boils down to is this: We all must repent and change. And obviously, it’s not anywhere near as important where we started out--it’s where we end up that makes all the difference in the world.

Like the religionists of Jesus’ day, many of us have been raised in the right kinds of homes......many of us were brought up in the church.......many of us were confirmed when we were eleven or twelve.......many of us made a profession of faith and obedience...
...but were these professions similar to the profession of the son in Jesus’ parable who immediatley told his father he would go work in the vineyard...but did not go?.......or have we gone?  Many of us are like the first son, when asked if we would give our lives to Christ our answer was “I will not.” And in doing this, we may have gone off in all sorts of different directions......getting ourselves in all sorts of trouble.  Some of those who initially said, “I will not,” may have gotten so far involved in the destructive vices of
this world that they lost their sanity or even their lives before they were able to repent, change their minds, and
follow Christ.  We need to remember this.....None of us ever know when our time will be up.......when there will no longer be any second chances... Therefore as the Scripture says, “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  Imagine getting to the end of life and saying: “Look at all the time I wasted. Look at all the opportunities I missed....Or even worse....
....imagine getting to the end of your life and saying: “I said no to Christ, but I did intend on giving my life to Him some day in the future....I just never got around to it.”

 Thank goodness that God gives us a choice....
...we have freedom of choice....
...we can choose....
...God offers us the free gift of salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ....
...we can take it or leave it...

...we can choose heaven or hell, paradise or torment...’s up to us.

We are all called by God to “go and work today in the vineyard.”

What say ye?

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