Proper #21…Series A
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (October 1st, 2017)
Text: Matthew 21: 28-32
Title: The No and Yes Sons!!
Once there was a father who had two sons. And at breakfast one morning, the father said to his youngest son, “you know that we are in the middle of the harvest and two of our workers have called in sick this morning…Son, I need you to go and work in the vineyard today”. And the younger son, ponder his father’s request and replied, “Dad, I know that you love me and I hope you know that I love you and I will never forget how you welcomed me back into the family and into your life after I had blown thru my share of the inheritance in a faraway country chasing after an elusive dream of freedom and independence and pleasure. As long as I live, I’ll never forget how you came running down the road to meet me that day…as if you had been waiting all those years for my return…Dad, I’ll never forget how you treated me…I was ready to come back as a hired slave but you welcomed me back as an honored son…a member of the family…you put the family signet ring on my finger and shoes on my feet and you gave me your best robe to cover my filthy rags and then you told the servants to kill the fatted calf and invite everyone in the village to come to the house, and we had a great and wonderful feast…and then, when my older brother complained and questioned your generosity and refused to come in and join the celebration, you said, Son, we had to celebrate because your brother, who was as good as dead has returned safe and sound. Dad, I know that you love me, and I know that my place in your house is secure, but Dad…No…I won’t go out and work in your vineyard…not today! Today, I want to go to the beach with my friends…sorry Dad…maybe tomorrow, but NOT today!”.(pause) But later…after thinking it over…the first son changed his mind…he texted his friends and told them that the beach would have to wait for another day, and then he went and spent the day working in his Father’s vineyard…
Of the 23 parables of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel…this parable (the Parable of the Two Sons) is probably the easiest to understand. Is there anyone here this morning who does not understand this parable? OK…everyone understands…so, which of the two sons…the first son who said, “No…I won’t go and work in your vineyard”, but, later changed his mind and went or the second son who said, “Yes…of course I will go” but never did…which one did the “will of his father”?? How many say, “Son #1 (who said he wouldn’t but did)??…how many say, “Son #2 (who said he would but didn’t)”. You see, everyone here today got the message…everyone understands what Jesus is trying to say: He says, “It isn’t enough to ‘TALK the TALK’ if you’re not willing to ‘WALK the WALK’…He is telling us that there is a difference between ‘BELIEVING in Jesus” and actually living your life in harmony with his teaching and his holy life…as Soren Kierkegaard (the 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian) put it: Jesus doesn’t want (or need) ADMIRERS…he wants (and desperately needs) FOLLOWERS! Or as Jesus himself said (in Luke 6:46) “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I tell you to do”??
It’s a disturbing question, isn’t it…”Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not turn the other cheek or go the extra mile or love your enemy as much as you love your self?”…”Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not forgive a brother or sister who sins against you…or lay down your life and take up your cross daily and follow me?” “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I tell you to do??”.
Friends, the Parable of the two Sons was, when Jesus first told it more than 2000 years ago and still is today (for those who are listening) an urgent call to REPENTENCE…a call to first of all, to honestly acknowledge that, when it comes to actually doing the will of God, there is a little of both of these boys in all of us! The Parable of the Two Sons is a wonderful story about the enormous power of the Word of the Gospel of Grace to set us free to Repent…to change our hearts and our minds and our lives…the nuclear power of the Gospel (when it is heard and believed and lived) to set us free to not just ‘Talk the Talk” but actually ‘Walk the Walk” …to actually do what Jesus tells us to do!
And, friends, the surprising Good News in Jesus’ parable is that both Sons (the one he said he wouldn’t go and did and the one who said he would go but didn’t) are still sons of the Father who loves them both without reservation or limitation…who loves them both UNCONDITIONALLY! You see, this is not a story about who is on the outside looking IN or who is on the inside looking OUT…it’s not a story about who is in the family and why is not in the family! No, the parable of the Two sons asks one simple but urgently important question of all of us who are listening this morning:” What kind of Son…What kind of Daughter are you willing to be”…