Text: Matthew 21:28-31
This is not a parable that is preached on very often. Here’s the deal: Jesus has had His authority questioned by the religious crowd. These are the bean counters, the rules and regulations guys, and the ones who always question everybody else’s authority. Right, they never question their own authority, just everybody else’s.
Jesus poses a question to them. He says a father had two sons: to the first one he said, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.” The first son says, “I will not!”
Don’t judge him too harshly because that’s what we all say when the Heavenly Father knocks on our heart’s door. We all say, “No… we’re going to set up our own set of rules and regulations and we’re going to keep them and that’s how we’ll be right with You, God.”
The scripture says all we like sheep have gone astray…we’ve turned everyone to his own way! We have all sinned and come short of God’s glory. There is none righteous, no not one.
So that is pretty much the way we all responded when God first came calling. We just said like the first son here: “No!” Then the scripture goes on to say that after a while he/we regretted that decision and did go and do the work! That also is what we do. The Father keeps calling, the Holy Spirit keeps wooing us and eventually we realize the truth of the gospel message, realize the futility of trying to do it ourselves and we get saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Jesus continues, “He came to a second son and said the same thing.” That being, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.” This son said immediately, “Sure I’ll go sir…I’ll do it.” But he did not go! No work was done.
This son is a picture of religion. This is the crowd that says “I’ll do it…just put me in charge. Make me the head of the committee; make me the boss, the chief over the whole thing. You do that and I’m ready to go.”
The problem is that when people have that mentality they spend their whole life not working but rather protecting their new position of authority. They can’t turn loose of it and they work the rest of their life to protect the position they now have and the WORK goes undone.
Do you wonder why attendance in churches is down? Why is giving down? Why is the overall level of excitement and enthusiasm down? Quite frankly it’s because the second son has taken over and everybody has a title, position and their name on the sign but nobody is doing the work.
Religion has taken over the church and religion won’t ever save you…only Jesus will. Religion is not the answer; it is the problem! So Jesus asked the religious bean counters: “Which of the two sons did the will of his father?” And the religious crowd said, “Why, the one who first refused and then later went and did the work.”
Jesus said, “You’re right and I tell you that tax collectors, prostitutes, robbers, crooks and thieves will enter the kingdom of God before you religious bean counters.” Isn’t that amazing? Religion will give you an upset stomach, send your blood pressure sky high, make you stew at home over what “others” are doing down at the church…ultimately it’ll kill you! Then at the end of the way it will not deliver you into God’s Heaven. Religion won’t save you…only Jesus will!
First published October 2014 in SGN Scoops digital magazine.
For current articles by Jeff Steele, see the latest edition of SGN Scoops on http://www.sgnscoops.com/