Jesus sees beyond people's past
Matthew has a considerable emphasis on church: it is only in this Gospel that the word ekklesia occurs. Most of the parables in this Gospel deal with the activity of the Kingdom of God in the person of Jesus Christ and it has a special interest in the future consummation.
This parable clearly shows us the contrast between the professedly religious and the outcasts. Jesus is trying to convey to us that anyone can change his/her mind for the better, that one can move from negative to positive, from present to future and that the first shall be the last and last shall be the first.
The two sons respond to their father's request in two different ways, and there could have been only one that made the father happy... My view is that the two failed to show respect to their father in that the first one disrespected his father by openly refusing his father's request. His refusal was a sign of arrogance and disrespect. While the second one agreed to his father's request but failed to execute it, he also showed disrespect and dishonesty.
It can be said that the first son with his arrogant answer made a turn-around after a serious consideration and deep thinking to finally do what is right. But the one who said "yes" and did not do the job is considered to be a failure.
With this parable, Jesus is declaring God's welcome to the outcasts (and by implication the Gentiles) and condemning the recalcitrant attitude of the Jews.
The repentance of the first son can be seen as the 'first shall be the last and the last shall be the first'. After his arrogance and disrespectful answer, there arises a new person who is liberated to the freedom of Christ. Yes he started so badly with bad and negative attitude, but because of his change of heart and mind, he is considered the better of the two. It is not because of his answer to his father's request that he is hailed as the better one but because of his repentance.
Reformed churches believe in the Reformation of faith under the aspects of Calling and Sanctification. Calling and Faith liberate us from the history of death and place us in the history of life. The spiritual answer in this parable is that the first son can now live, as a creature of God's grace, according to God's commands and through new obedience can conform to God. The Reformed faith has taught us that the command should be understood as demand of God, and works as a permanent accusation against the sins and neglects of man.
"THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST AND THE LAST SHALL BE THE FIRST"
|MT 21:28 "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. (Matthew21:28-32)
My name is Diutloileng David Monokoane, I was born in Halenono, Maseru Lesotho. I grew up at Boipatong, Vanderbijlpark in Gauteng. I matriculated at Lekoa-Shandu High School in Sharpville. I'm married to Mamokete Lydia Monokoane and we are blessed with four girls and four grandchildren. I was ordained in 1988 and have served in four congregations before the current ones of All Saints (Klerksdorp) and Solomon Rathebe (Mafikeng) in shared ministry. (Diutloileng serves on the MaD committee)