OOPS. THAT WAS MESSED UP!
“But what do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go, work in the vineyard today.’ “He answered, ‘I don’t want to! ’ Yet later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. “ ‘I will, sir,’ he answered. But he didn’t go. “Which of the two did his father’s will? ” “The first,” they said. Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you! For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.”
Jesus tells this parable (a story about ordinary people doing seemingly ordinary things, but with a message that has eternal significance) on the heels of being grilled by the religious leaders who had tried to entrap him with a question, by “Whose authority are you teaching, preaching and healing by?” By trying to entrap Jesus, they ultimately entraped themselves because He told this story about a man with 2 sons, after asking them a question in return. In the story the man asked both sons to go work in his vineyard. The 1st rebelliously declined, but later recanted and went. The 2nd said he would go, but never did. So Jesus asks, “who did his father’s will”, Son 1, who didn’t want to go at first, but ultimately went, or Son 2, who respectfully said he would go, but never got there? The religious leaders had to answer that the rebellious son did the father’s will, which presented a dilemma for them, because what Jesus was really doing was telling a story about the pious Hebrew religious leaders (God’s chosen people), who had dropped the proverbial ball, as opposed to the common, uneducated deciples, (soon to be followed by a multitude of gentiles) who would eventually carry the Gospel to all nations, something the Hebrews were commisioned by God to do centuries before.
Next, Jesus addresses the religious leaders directly and frankly. He says “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you!”
Now before Jesus had told this story, He had returned the religious leader’s question with a question about John the Baptiser. “Where did John’s baptism come from? From heaven or from men?” This is where the leaders entrapped themselves because in the same verse it says, “They began to argue among themselves, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?” (Vss 25-27) Now after telling His story, Jesus was telling them very directly that there are folks that you don’t esteem or respect, that will actually make Heaven when you won’t because THEY actually listened to John and repented. He says, “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.”
This was a pretty low blow to these religous leaders. The tax collectors were hated by everyone and prostitutes were worthy of death according them. To be put behind them was pretty disgraceful, so why did Jesus say this?
What Jesus was saying was that they were like the 2nd son in the story who, at least from face value, respected the Father but never quite got around to doing His will, in contrast to the tax collectors and prostitutes, along with the rest of Jesus’ motley crew of disciples, who had lived at least part of their lives in disobedience to God, but finally got around to accomplishing the Father’s will.
So, regardless of your past, we learn from this parable that you are useful in God’s Kingdom and perfectly capable, under the Power of Holy Spirit, of accomplishing God’s will which is to further His Kingdom by reconciling people back to Him. (II Cor 5:19) Which are you? Don’t be a “pretend” follower who never accomplishes anything in the Kingdom Be a legit, forgiven and free follower who does the will of the Father.
Think about it!