FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.28 ``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.' 29 ``And he answered, `I will not'; but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 ``The man came to the second and said the same thing and he answered, `I will, sir'; but he did not go. 31 ``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. 32 ``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.
GREAT STORY and so relevant today! The meaning is crystal clear! The Jewish leadership are those who said they would obey and then did not. The tax-gatherers and the harlots are those who said that they would go their own way and then came back home to God.
NOTE that the parable doesn't praise anyone. It is setting before us a picture of two very imperfect sets of people. One set was no better than the other. Neither son in the story was the kind of son to bring full joy to his father. Both were unsatisfactory, but the one who in the end obeyed was incalculably better than the other. The ideal son would be the son who accepted the father's orders with obedience and with respect and who unquestioningly and fully carried them out. But there are truths in this parable which go far beyond the situation in which it was first spoken. It tells us that there are two very common classes of people in this world.
First-there are the people whose profession is much better than their practice. They will promise anything; they make great claims of piety and fidelity, but their practice lags far behind.
Second-there are those whose practice is far better than their profession. They go out seeking anything but God and Godly things, but later come back to Him. The real point of the parable is that, while the second class are infinitely to be preferred to the first, neither is anything like perfect. The really good man is the man in whom profession and practice meet and match. OR, the really good man is the one who decides to come home to the heart of his Father-God. This is a prodigal son parable in a different format, without the specifics of the drama. All of us must come home-come back to our Creator God, our Father.
So, which one are you-the one who is home and walks away or the one who was away and came home?