OceanSide church of Christ

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Part of the series: PARABLES OF JESUS
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Matthew 21:28-32

Victor M. Eskew




A.   In Matthew 21:23, Jesus enters into the temple area.† While there, He was challenged by the Jewish leaders.


And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things?† And who gave thee this authority?


B.    Jesus was not afraid to answer His challengers, but He first posed a question to them regarding the baptism of John.

1.     The question:† The baptism of John, whence was it?† From heaven, or of man? (Matt. 21:25)

2.     Their answer:† We cannot tell (Matt. 21:27).

3.     Jesus reply:† Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things (Matt. 21:27).


C.   At that point, Jesus proceeded to tell three parables.† The first is referred to as ďThe Parable of the Two SonsĒ (Matt. 21:28-32).

1.     Keep in mind that Jesus had just brought up the baptism of John.

2.     Also remember that the Jewish leaders refused Johnís baptism (Luke 7:30).


But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.


I.           THE PARABLE (Matt. 21:28-30)


But what think ye?† A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.† He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went.† And he came to the second, and said likewise.† And he answered and said, I go sir; and went not.


A.   This is definitely an earthly story.

1.     Many families of Jesusí day were agricultural in nature.

2.     When sons reached a certain age, they would be required to labor in the vineyards.

3.     We are also aware of the fickle nature of boys who have been asked to do various chores around the house.


B.    In the parable, a man gives his two sons the exact same command:† Go, work today in my vineyard.

1.     The immediate responses of the sons were different.

a.     The first:† I will not.

b.    The second:† I go sir.


2.     Their actions were also different.

a.     The first:† Öbut afterward, he repented, and went.

b.    The second:† Öand went notÖ


II.         THE POINT (Matt. 21:31-32)


A.   The Test of Understanding (Matt. 21:31a)


Whether of these twain did the will of his father?† They say unto him, The first.


1.     The Jews knew that the one who actually went to the vineyard was the one who was obedient to his father.

2.     Jesus and the Jewish leaders were on the same page.


B.    The Truth (Matt. 21:31b-32)


Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom before you.† For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him:† and ye, when ye had seen it, repent-ed not afterward, that ye might believe him.


1.     The application:

a.     John was likened unto the father in the parable.

1)     John was sent by God (John 1:6).


There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.


2)     John was Godís agent.† As a prophet, his message came from God (Matt. 11:9).


But what went ye out for to see?† A prophet?† Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.


3)     Part of Johnís message involved the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4).


John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.


b.    The publicans and harlots were like unto the first son.

1)     For a while they rebelled against the will of the Father.† Their lives manifested disobedience.

2)     They, however, repented and did the will of God and submitted to Johnís baptism (Luke 7:29).


And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.



c.    The Jewish leaders were like the second Son.

1)     They gave lip service to their obedience to God.

2)     They, however, refused to submit to Johnís baptism (Luke 7:30; Matt. 21:25).


2.     NOTE:† Because of their obedience to the will of God, Jesus said that the publican and the harlots go into the kingdom before these religious leaders.


C.   The Teaching:† The key to being acceptable to God is obedience.

1.     I John 2:3


And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.


2.     I John 3:24a


And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.


3.     I John 5:3


For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments:† and his commandments are not grievous.


4.     II John 6


And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.† This is the commandment, that, as ye heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.




A.   The father-son relationship is most applicable because of the position we share with the heavenly Father.

1.     I John 3:1


Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.


2.     II Corinthians 6:18


And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.


3.     Galatians 3:26


For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.


B.    We have a choice.

1.     The two sons:

a.     The first:† He said he would not go to work, but chose rather to go.

b.    The second:† He said he would go, but chose not to go.

2.     Each of us has a choice to obey God or not to obey.† The Bible exhorts us to obey and choose life.

a.     Deuteronomy 30:19


I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:† therefore choose life, that both thee and thy seed may live.


b.    Psalm 119:30


I have chosen the way of truth:† thy judgments have I laid before me.


c.    Luke 10:42


But one thing is needful:† and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


C.   We learn that repentance begins first with a change of mind (Matt. 21:29).


He answered and said, I will not:† but afterward he repented, and went.


1.     The text states that the repentance came before he went into the vineyard to work.

2.     Man must change his mind in order to properly change his actions.

a.     We must change our mind about false doctrines we believe.

b.    We must change our mind about the sinful actions in which we are engaged.

c.    We must change our mind about improper relationships that we sustain.

3.     The change of mind leads to a change of action (he went) which leads to a reformation of life.

a.     Had the son continued his rebellious course, he would have been dis-pleasing to his father.

b.    His repentance changed his life.† His father would be well-pleased with his actions.




A.   There are only two options open to us.

1.     We are either obedient children.

2.     Or, we are disobedient children.


B.    Donít be a son who said he will, but does not.† Your good intentions will not make you right in the sight of God.


C.   Letís be sons who go and labor diligently in our heavenly Fatherís vineyard.