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The Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28–32)

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They *said, “The first.” Jesus *said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

(Matthew 21:28–32, NASB)

Context of the Parable of the Two Sons

To fully understand the Parable of the Two Sons, we need to look at the context in which it was told. The parable is part of a series of parables that Jesus used to teach important truths to His disciples and the people who followed Him. Jesus’ ministry was marked by conflict with the religious authorities of His time, who rejected His teachings and ultimately played a role in His crucifixion.

Matthew 21 begins with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where He is hailed as the long-awaited Messiah. The religious authorities, the chief priests, and the elders question Jesus’ authority, and in response, Jesus tells three parables, including the Parable of the Two Sons.

The Parable of the Two Sons is a judgment on Israel’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus likens the first son to the tax collectors and prostitutes, who were outcasts in Jewish society but eventually repented and obeyed God. The second son represents the Jewish religious leaders who claimed to obey God but ultimately rejected Jesus as their Messiah.

The story is set in a vineyard where a man asks his two sons to go and work. The first son initially refuses but later changes his mind and goes to work. The second son agrees to go but ultimately disobeys and refuses to work. This parable shows that those who initially reject Jesus (the tax collectors and prostitutes) will be received into the kingdom of God ahead of those who claim to be obedient to God but ultimately reject Jesus as their Messiah (the religious leaders).

The Parable of the Two Sons, along with the other parables Jesus told, is a powerful reminder that our actions and beliefs have consequences. As believers, we must be willing to obey God and follow His teachings, even when it goes against the norms of our society.

Meaning of the Parable of the Two Sons

The Parable of the Two Sons teaches us that true obedience to God is not just about saying the right things but about doing the right things. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time claimed to be obedient to God, but they did not follow through with their actions. In contrast, the tax collectors and prostitutes, who were considered sinners, repented and eventually obeyed God.

The Parable also highlights the importance of repentance. The first son initially refused to work but later repented and went to work in the vineyard. Similarly, as believers, we must be willing to admit our faults, repent, and turn to God. Repentance is a necessary response to the grace of God, and it is through this process that we are transformed and drawn closer to Him.

Lessons from the Parable of the Two Sons

  1. True obedience to God involves both words and actions.
  2. Repentance is a crucial aspect of our spiritual journey.
  3. Outward appearances and religiosity do not necessarily indicate true obedience to God.
  4. God welcomes sinners who repent and turn to Him.
  5. Obeying God brings blessings, while disobedience leads to consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the two sons in the parable?

The two sons represent two different groups of people. The first son represents sinners who initially disobey but later repent and obey God. The second son represents religious leaders who claim to obey God but ultimately reject Jesus as their Messiah.

What is the significance of the vineyard in the parable?

The vineyard represents the kingdom of God, and the work in the vineyard represents the work that God has called us to do.

How does the Parable of the Two Sons relate to our lives today?

The Parable of the Two Sons is still relevant to our lives today. It reminds us that true obedience to God requires both words and actions, and it encourages us to repent and turn to God. It also shows us that we should not judge others based on their outward appearance or religious affiliations, but instead, we should focus on their repentance and obedience to God.

What is the ultimate message of the Parable of the Two Sons?

The ultimate message of the Parable of the Two Sons is that it is never too late to repent and obey God. No matter how far we have strayed from God, we can always turn back to Him, and He will welcome us with open arms.

Related Parables:

  • The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37)
  • The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32)
  • The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3–9)
  • The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3–7)
  • The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30)
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