Parable of the two sons

As we are walking through three parables Jesus taught on His last day of public ministry we start with the parable of the two sons. All three of these parables we are looking at this week have a common thread. They are a warning to the religious community of Jesus’ day to not get apathetic and arrogant in their position. Experiencing the presence of God in eternity is not guaranteed by birthright, religious tradition, or position. Jesus is showing us that honoring God with our lives and hearts is vital as we live out His grace with a grateful heart.

Matthew 21:28-32 (read the passage here)

Parents, I think we can relate to part of this right off. It is not an uncommon thing for a child to say they will do something and then not follow through on it. I’m not sure that it happens as often that a child says they won’t do something their parent asks and then they go ahead and do it anyway, but it does happen.

In this particular parable, we see a specific principle at play: how you finish is more important than how you start. No question, starting well is something we should strive to do. However, we can have a slow, rocky, or otherwise less than stellar beginning and still finish strong.

We see it in sports all the time. A team will have a bad first half, make adjustments and come out in the second half and win the game.

The first son started poorly. He rebelled against his father and responded with with selfish haste. I’m sure he had other things he wanted to do and decided at that moment that they were more important. Something in him changed. Maybe, he felt guilty. Possibly, his plans fell through. Could be that he decided he should contribute and be a part of his father’s business. Who knows for sure, but he followed through. He ended well.

The second son had a great start. He jumped right in with a hearty “yes” but then something changed and he didn’t. It’s possible that was his plan all along with no intention of following through.

Perhaps something came up. How easily things come up and distract us from our plans. Too often we get sidetracked and don’t follow through with what we should. There is no shortage of things to distract us from what God has asked (called) us to do. We are bombarded with opportunity after opportunity to do anything else each day other than live out our purpose in Christ.

Maybe he forgot. We quickly forget the things that are not important to us. We easily let go of the things when we do not honor the one making the request.

Whatever his excuse ended up being, the bottom line is he didn’t follow through.

It’s been said, “If a man doesn’t have his word, he doesn’t have anything.” Follow though. Integrity. Faithfulness. We see through out scripture that these please and honor God.

If we say we are going to do something, then we need to do it. Unless it is something that would cause us to sin to follow through with, there is no good reason to not keep our word. Society around us lacks much integrity. If we, the church, won’t live with integrity, what hope is there for a positive change in society?

Then Jesus asked the pointed question in verse 31, “Which  son obeyed?”

Easy, the one who finished well; who followed through.

Obedience means action. It means doing what pleases and honors God.Just saying “yes” is not enough, we have to live it.


Tomorrow we’ll look at the motive behind our obedience.

In the meantime, what do you think about the parable of the two sons?

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