Which of the Two?
Jesus’ parable of the two sons called to work in their father’s vineyard demonstrates His brilliant use of parables and the often multi-leveled lessons which they can teach. Please take the time to read our text. The picture of the father coming to each of the sons and telling them to go work in the vineyard would be easy to remember, especially as it drew upon their agricultural economy and the long-held practice for the sons to participate in the family business.
The first son refused to go but later regretted his decision and went to work. The second son agrees to go, but he never did. Jesus involves His listeners by asking them the simple question of “Which one of the two did the will of his father?” The answer is quite plain, and they give the correct answer as being the first son. With that having been established, Jesus explains the parable.
The first son represents the tax collectors and sinners who were living as children disobedient to the law of Moses. But, when they heard John the Baptist’s call to repentance, they believed him, turned from their evil ways and began seeking the kingdom. The second son represents the chief priests and elders who appeared to be following Moses but failed to heed the call of John who was sent by the Father and whose coming was prophesied! This must have really rankled those religious leaders sitting there in their long robes.
But we can draw other, more general truths, from this parable. Being in the kingdom requires us to “do” something. Mere talk doesn’t get it. And it requires us to do what the Father asks. We won’t be praised for tanning hides when vineyard work is expected.
The Father allows for repentance. Making a wrong choice doesn’t nullify an opportunity to make the right choice later. However, the right choice must eventually be made.
So each of us must make the personal application. “Which son am I?” “Am I doing vineyard work?”