READ: Matthew 21:28-32
- The parable deals with a man with two sons. You might think of your Uncle Ralph, or possibly, yourself. But a first century Jewish listener or reader would reach back to their entire heritage. There are lots of “two sons” combinations. Think: Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Ephraim and Manasseh, Moses and Aaron, and more. It would be highly unlikely that a Jewish listener/reader would not automatically suggest that this parable is about the Jewish nation.
- In fact, at the end of the second parable, the Jewish leaders knew Jesus was talking about them (v45). So, you have to wonder, how would they have heard the story? Were they the disobedient son? Did they hear the command and claim to be responsible, yet fail? Were they the ones who, at first, rejected the message, but later went and did with the father asked? Clearly, the audience does not change from the previous section. Jesus is still speaking to the “chief priests and elders” (v23). Jesus directs His remarks to them (v31-32).
- But, there is a broader application than just to them. The church is filled with people who say “Yes, God, I’ll follow you,” and then don’t. And there are many who honestly refuse to follow, but later, “changed their minds and go.” The phrase change their minds is related in concept to the idea of repentance. There is a change of heart that leads to a change of action. These options didn’t end when Jesus stopped telling the story. They still exist today.
- Which son are you? Why do you say so?
- Why were the leaders of the Jews so upset by this parable?
- With whom does Jesus contrast the “elders of the people”? How would that have made them feel?
PRAY: Pray that you are an obedient listener. Pray for those who at least appear to be disobeying, even after they’ve said they’d follow Jesus. Pray for us, as a church, to model obedience.