The Parable of the Two Sons told by Jesus during this final week of His ministry reflects the dividing line of responses to the will of God. While receiving identical instructions the similiarity ends at this point.
Son #1 dug in his heels and refused to go, perhaps preferring his own agenda to that of his father. As time went on, he changed his mind–he repented and reversed this initial opposition with an engaged obedience. Son #2 seems initially to be a more ‘compliant’ child to raise. He says the ‘right’ thing. He appears willing and able to respond in full obedience, yet his actions betray the true condition of his heart.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” Jesus queried. The answer was unanimous – “The first,” they answered. Jesus then drove home the story with a pointed application to his audience. Tax collectors and prostitutes who appeared ‘unreligious’ and ‘resistant’ to the will of the Father were responding in repentance to the preaching and ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. The more ‘religious’ crowd who had been shown the ‘way’ through the preaching of John, resisted his call to repentance. Even the ‘peer pressure’ of others repenting did not compel a change of heart, and as a result they were still outside the kingdom.
What are some points of application?
1) Don’t assess people by their ‘immediate’ response to truth. Some who initially ‘oppose’ truth, later yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to surrender.
2) Don’t make professions of ‘obedience’ if you are not prepared to back these up with actions. Deeds speak louder than words! Even the 12 apostles gathered in the Upper Room would declare an unfailing loyalty, yet the hours of the night “in which HE was betrayed,” would prove their frailty as ‘they all forsook him and fled.’
3) Respond with belief to messages about “the way of righteousness.” Sermons are not preached simply to provide a public-speaking opportunity for the preacher! God’s spokesmen speak God’s words (1 Peter 4:10,11) and we should line up more with ‘the way of righteousness’ by life-changing repentance.
4) While time remains, repent. An older hymn, coming to my mind today, is entitled “Be in time!”
Be in time, Be in time, While the voice of Jesus calls you, Be in time! If in sin you longer wait, you may find no open gate, And your cry be just too late, Be in time!”
May this week be a week of repentance, response and righteousness as we follow Jesus Christ down “The Via Delarosa” – The Way of Suffering!