My wife Elizabeth teaches Sunday school at Calvary Chapel. This week’s lesson featured the parable of the two sons, a story symbolic of the Christian church made up of both faithful believers and hypocrites. Watching Liz cheerfully teach toddlers about obedience inspired me to write about this simple yet powerful parable told by Jesus in Bethany.
Those of you not familiar with this parable will find out there are really two kinds of people in churches on Sundays, children that obey the holy father and those who do not.
“28 What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 ” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32)
In this parable, for His audience’s sake Jesus cleverly divides those who reluctantly obey the father and hypocrites who pretend to obey but have no intention on keeping their promise. Ignoring the eternal rewards that come along with obedience to God, the chief priests and elders of the people of Bethany refused to believe even as they were given the chance to repent.
Many of us are very much like the son who first refused to obey but later came to his senses. At first glance the concept of obedience to God can seem overwhelming however to those ready to humble themselves before their holy father, obedience is the only way. Though sometimes reluctant, believers understand the responsibility and rewards that comes with faith in Jesus Christ.
The second son who pretended to obey his father is a hypocrite, a liar in grave danger of being written out of the book of life. Numerous among church goers, disobedient sons and daughters of the Lord talk the talk but do not walk the walk.
Teaching the multitudes throughout Galilee, Jesus spoke of such hypocrites:
“16 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
“5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)
My question to you is which of the sons are you? Are you among those who see and repent of their sins humbling yourself before the Lord as the tax collectors and prostitutes in the parable or. are you a hypocrite church goer satisfied with repeating a prayer meaningless to your heart?
Are you not certain which son you are? Here is a simple self-test for you to conduct:
Do you believe in God, His son Jesus Christ and the holy spirit?
Do you attend a bible teaching church?
Are you involved in ministry work at your church?
Are you part of a small group or bible study?
Do you spend time praying every day?
Do you read the bible every day?
Could a stranger know you are Christian just by looking at you?
If you answered yes to all the questions above, you are in deed an obedient and faithful servant and will be rewarded accordingly. Otherwise, you need to take significant steps toward obedience and service among God’s family.
We can help you take the first step toward abundant, God pleasing service and obedience. This critical step involves an analysis of how you occupy your time, spend your money and most importantly, what you are passionate about. A simple outlook of the above is at the root of change that produces favor and rewards beyond comprehension.
“12 Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:12-14)
Be certain your robe is clean and pleasing to the Lord, and your life is symbolic of the obedient son. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives
And for allowing us to worship you,
We praise you Lord for all that you provide for us
Each and every day.
God we ask you to forgive our sins
And make us stronger in the days ahead
So that we may become more like you
As we continue to obey you.
Lord we know what you expect of us
And ask for your strength
So that we may reach toward heaven
And help those around us do the same.
Holy Father we ask you to inspire us
To change our ways and put you first
Rather than continue to drown in denial
And drag us deeper into disobedience.
God we love you and thank you for all that surrounds us!
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre