Theme: Christ as Judge
This week’s lesson teaches us that we hate God, and only by his grace learn to love him
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.
As I noted yesterday, the parable of the two sons is not merely about salvation— that is, of believing on Jesus—but also of Christian service. Christ’s answer is in terms of doing or failing to do the will of the father, rather than other matters.
Let’s look at the second son, who said, “I will, sir” but did not go into the vineyard. A person might reason from this that Jesus is suggesting it is improper to make promises to God, since we may not keep them. He might conclude, “I will make no promises to God, no profession of discipleship.” That would be wrong. Jesus is not against profession. On the contrary, the Bible links profession to true belief in Jesus. Paul wrote in Romans: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are saved” (Rom. 10:9-10). What Jesus is denouncing is an insincere profession, the profession of a person who cries, “Lord, Lord…” but does not do what Jesus says.
Are you in that category? You cannot answer by saying that you have joined a church, affirmed the creeds, have a reputation as a good Christian, or even that you are a Christian worker or minister. You can do all those things and still be disobedient to God, just as these religious leaders were. They were active in all sorts of religious matters. But they did not believe on Jesus, and they were not working in God’s vineyard. They were working in a little vineyard of their own, building their own reputations and erecting their own little kingdoms. You can only answer that question properly if you have trusted Jesus as your Savior and are now engaged in the specific work to which he has called you.
There is also the case of the other son, the first. He said no to the father, but afterward repented of his disobedience and went to the vineyard to work. We must not think that Jesus was approving everything about him. Jesus did not approve his initial disobedience. But there was this one good thing: although he had arrogantly defied his father when the order was first given, he later repented and did his father’s will.
I make a point of that because there are people today, often young people, who think that it is all right for them to go their own way as long as they go God’s way at some later point. They want to have fun now and serve God later—when they are too old to be of much use or when their opportunities for sound preparation are gone. Granted, it is better for them to sin now and repent later than for them to sin now and not repent at all. But there is a better way: come to Jesus early and serve him both early and late. It is best to give your entire life to his service.
Besides, if you delay now, you have no guarantee that you will be able to come to Jesus later. You may, but sin takes its toll, and one of the things sin does is entrap us so that we cannot get free even if we wish to, and usually we do not even want that freedom. If God is speaking to you and you are saying, “No,” you should know that, although it may be hard for you to say “Yes” now, it will be even harder to say it the next time around—even assuming that God speaks to you again. The only safe thing is to give prompt and sincere obedience to God’s call.
According to Romans 10, with what part of you must you believe? Why?
Why is it dangerous to say “No” to God?
Ask God to point out inconsistencies in your practice.