This parable begins with Christ’s “What think ye?” and is designed to make us think. Some perish for lack of thought, and many more for wrong thinking.
“Son, go work today in my vineyard” (v. 28). The Father’s vineyard needs workers ; who should be more interested than the
1. BASIS OF THE FATHER’S CLAIM.
“Son,” (v. 28).
Plenty of hirelings may be got for wages, but love ought to constrain a son. “The love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Cor .5. 14). If we are the sons of God, surely our Father has the first claim upon our time and strength and substance. Our Father may hire strangers to serve Him (Isa. 7. 20) but sons are commanded.
2. DESIRE OF THE FATHER’S HEART.
“Work” (v. 28).
What a grief it must be to our God to see so much work to be done and so many of His children idle. Work is pleasing to the Father, good for the vineyard, and profitable for the worker. “The idle soul shall suffer hunger” (Prov. 19. 15). Our Father has a multitude of talkative sons, but the labourers are few.
3. URGENCY OF THE FATHER’S REQUEST.
The time for serving the Lord is always NOW. Some of us younger sons say, “Wait till I get a little more experience.” Some of the older sons say, “It is not worth my while now ;” or they are thinking about retiring from the vineyard. Go, work today, this present day of salvation, for “the night cometh when no man can work” (John 9.4). “Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith, TODAY…” (Heb. 3.7).
So, that’s what the Father commanded, next…
B. What the Sons Said:
In the case of the first we have-
1. A HARSH REFUSAL.
“I will not” (v. 29). His language reveals a spirit of selfish indifference to the Father’s desire. In plain words it is this: “I have something else of my own to look after, and have not time to work in your vineyard. I got a better offer!”
Does the selfish Christian care for the perishing millions, or the grieving of the Father’s heart? His language also reveals his open rebellion. “I will not.” His was a life opposed to the Father’s will and out of sympathy with the Father’s purpose. Now, in the end, he worked. What think ye? Do the ends justify the means? Some simply don’t want to make commitments, but again, if nothing comes up, I may decide to help you last minute!
The other son answered with-
2. A BOGUS COMMITMENT.
“I go” (v. 30). He speaks with marked respect, “I go, sir.” Judging from his talk he has a great reverence for his father and a great zeal for his work. Right answer! His words are smoother than butter.
The descendants of this oily-lipped professor have not yet ceased from among us. People today are quick to make commitments, or just give what they believe is the ‘right answer’ to get rid of you, but with no intention of following thru. Or, sometimes they have the right intention, but no character to keep their word.
We had our biggest crowd of the year Sunday, but if everyone came who told me they were coming, there would have been a whole lot more!
And yet at the same time this son’s instant decision and prompt reply to the father’s urgent command should be copied by every son. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14. 15). Don’t hesitate to make commitments just so you’ll never break one!
A great passage on this is…
1 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
Commit to something!
So, we’ve seen what the sons said, now…
C. What the Sons Did.
There is often a vast difference between a man’s profession and his actions. Talk is quite different than walk. “Whither of them twain [which of the two] did the father’s will? ” It is not the one who talked the best or made the loudest profession.
God’s Word is fulfilled in our doing of it, not in our talking about it.
1. THE ONE REPENTED AND OBEYED.
Repentance always precedes the doing of the will of God. The bold, self-willed rebel is the first son to yield and obey.
So, don’t despair for the restoration of the disobedient backslider, or give up hope for the conversion of the defiant skeptic.
“Afterward, he repented and went…”
2. THE OTHER PROMISED AND FAILED.
“He said, I go, sir, and went not.”
All who ‘go not’ at God’s command into the field of service for Him are disobedient and rebellious children, no matter how nicely they may talk about “the Lord’s work.” Talking about church and religion is not working for God any more than warming your hands at the fire is gathering grapes.
Ill.—some gather at McDonald’s each morning to solve the world’s problems. Most of us have our opinions on Ukraine, gas prices, and how to fix America. But some are on the front lines doing something about it. I talk a lot about it. I need to talk to God a lot about it.
Matthew 7 says, Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom, but he that doeth the will of My Father.
“Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it” (John 2. 5).
v. 31 Jesus asks which son did the father’s will. They said, the first. Then Christ smacks them in the face with a powerful truth they needed to think about: That they said no to the preaching of the truth, and sinners said yes. And even in the face of proof they wouldn’t change their mind. Rather than wanting to be correctable, they wanted to have always been right. That kind of pride never results in salvation.
So, which son was best? Even better than the first son would be a more ideal son who commits, saying yes, and follows through!
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