Context of the Parable
The next morning Jesus goes to the Temple and begins to share a few stories with those who are there. He’s bothered by what He had seen yesterday at the temple and wants to get to the heart of the religious elite. He does this by sharing stories. This is one of those stories:
Read: Matthew 21:28b-32
A man with two sons told the older boy, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.” The son answered, “No, I won’t go,” but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, “You go,” and he said, “Yes, sir, I will.” But he didn’t go.
“Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.”
Then Jesus explained His meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.”
Upon reading the story Jesus told and reading through the observation, what comes to mind? Do you relate to this story? If so, how? Take time to reflect on this parable and allow God to speak to you.
What is Jesus getting at here? This story is about integrity, and Jesus is addressing the religious elite. Jesus had witnessed, the day before at the temple, they have lost their integrity, they have lost their way. They look great and are well spoken, but talk is cheap. What matters is actually living what they know and yet they won’t do it.
Jesus is exhorting them to actually do the will of the Father from the heart (Matt. 7:15-27). We know what people believe based on how they live their life, not by what they may claim to believe. And Jesus is trying to make that clear with the religious elite who are professing righteousness, yet there is no fruit, there is nothing, just empty words because they are not repenting and they don’t actually believe in God. They believe in their own self-righteousness.
Ask God to give you the ability and the strength to live out your faith in your daily life.