Matthew 21:28-32
It Is Not Too Late

Some twenty-five years ago, I preached a sermon at the Green Pond Baptist Church
as a candidate to be pastor.  This was the text that I preached from.  It seems
fitting, that after so many years, we look at this text again.

You can tell a good bit about the point of this parable, by looking at the context
it is in.  In the verses above \\#Matt 21:23-27\\, the leaders of the temple and
the city are questioning Jesus, asking who gave Him the authority to do miracles
He was doing and to proclaim the message that He was proclaiming.

However, the way Jesus answer them, it appears that they were trying to trap Him.
Those leaders would know that the only answer Jesus could give that would not
discredit Him was that God had given Him that authority.  In fact, God IS the only
One who could power to do those kinds of miracles.  I have no doubt that if Jesus
had said God was the One who sent Him, those same leaders would have used it as
grounds to have Jesus stoned.

Then down below \\#Matt 21:33-45\\, we see the parable of the rebellious
husbandmen. Those who were profiting off anotherís vineyard, but who refused to
give the owner his share of the profits. Indeed, in the parable, they even
kill the ownerís son who is sent to speak to the farmers.

In both of these texts, we see a common element.  Some were rejecting Jesus as
Savior and Messiah.  The parable that is our text is directed to them.  It gives
the rejecters a message.  The message is, "It is not too late."  HOWEVER, the
message is sent with a TWIST.  You must listen intently or you might miss it.

Letís consider the text.

    I. The Problems Of the Two Sons
        A. \\#28\\ Each one is responding to a command of the father.
            1. The father instructed each of his sons to go into the fields
                and work.
            2. There are several family related messages intertwined in the
                Parable of the Two Sons.
                a. They are not the main message.
                b. I suppose you could say that they are secondary or even
                     subliminal messages.
            3. One of those secondary or subliminal messages can be seen already.
                a. The message is that God expects kids to work.
                b. Jesus is telling this story and in the story He tells, the
                    father instructs the children to workówhy?  Because that
                    is normal and right.
                c. The father in this parable is obviously a wealthy man who
                    owns much land.
                    (1) It is obvious that the owner probably had servants
                         that normally did the field work.
                    (2) By the use of the words "to day," it becomes evident that
                         neither of his sons were accustomed to having to go 
                         to work in the fields.  The father is having to make
                         a point to tell them to go so.
                    (3) And what kind of sons did the rich man get by having
                         a life of luxury?
                    (4) They were lazy and rebellious sons!
                d. You would hate to have to say it but neither of the sons
                    in this parable are sons to be proud of.
                    (1) That doesnít have to be the case.
                    (2) Even if you have wealth, your children can be taught to
                         be grateful, thankful, and appreciative.
                    (3) However, very few people will ever be thankful for what
                         they have if they have not been taught to work first!
                e. However, that is not the main message so letís move on.
        B. \\#29\\ The first son rebels at the very notion of going into the
            field to work.
            1. This son had an opinion about going to work, and he expressed it.
            2. Here is another of those secondary, subliminal messages.
                a. Children are not equal partners in the home.
                    (1) A partnership works great in business but not in the
                    (2) Childrenís opinions are not required.
                    (3) Children do not have to be convinced before they obey.
                b. Obviously, this fatherís children were older.
                    (1) It is evident that they are big enough to make some
                         decisions on their own.
                    (2) And I am a strong advocate for allowing mature,
                         responsible, trustworthy child learn to make their
                         own decisions.
                    (3) However, a rebellious teenager deserves no more rights
                         within the home than a rebellious two-year old.
                         (a) Sadly, that truth may break down on some who are
                              rearing two-year olds.
                         (b) However, every parent should know how foolish it
                              is to let a immature, stubborn two-year old run
                              their home.
                         (c) Well, adding ten or even twenty more years to the
                              age of the child doesnít change anything!
                c. For some reason, a lot of parents think AGE brings maturity
                    and wisdom.
                    (1) It doesnít.
                    (2) If you let a foolish person make a decision, even if
                         that person is your child, what kind of results do
                         you think you will get?
                    (3) This kind of maturity and wisdom must be GROWN not
                d. Rebellious, immature children do not even have the right
                    to express an opinion, let alone deserve the right to be
                    reasoned with.
                    (1) The Bible makes it clear that to reason with a foolish
                         person is a waste of time.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise
wisdom and instruction.

                    (2) It also makes it clear that the only course of action
                         is a firm one.

Proverbs 10:13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a
rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.

                e. Just because your child is older, that does not mean they
                    automatically become partners in the home.
                    (1) God did not structure homes to be a democracy but a
                         dictatorship, a loving dictatorship but a
                         dictatorship all the same.
                    (2) Rebellion from a 15 or 17 year old is still rebellion.
            3. However, somewhere within this young man was a spot of
                conscience and so he is later grieved by his rebellion, repents
                of it, and goes to do what his father told him to do.
        C. \\#30\\ The second son takes the opposite approach.
            1. He says he will go work but never does.  He probably winds up
                hanging out with his friends or playing video games.
                a. Parents, another lesson can be learned here.
                    (1) We need to teach our children to obey and to obey
                    (2) Leisurely obedience is not true obedience.
                    (3) Sadly, so many parents have a difficult enough time
                         getting their children to obey at all, that most
                         gladly settle for a leisurely obedience.
                    (4) What they donít understand is the more you expect out
                         of children, the more you get out them.
                    (5) If you are steadily working with your children to
                         immediately obey and to obey with excellence (that is
                         do the best job possible), then you will never have
                         to worry about the child getting the work done at all.
                    (6) That issue will never even come up.  Why?  Because he
                         or she knows that if you are going to get them for a
                         sloppy job, youíd kill them for no job at all; and
                         they have better sense than to risk it.
                b. Too many parents are setting too low a goal for their kids
                    to ever amount to anything at all.
                    (1) What you need to do is set a high enough goal, not an
                         unreasonable or unattainable mark, but a high enough
                         mark so that if your children donít quite make it,
                         they are still plateaus above the children of this world.
                    (2) We all realize that no child is perfect.
                         (a) Most of them will try to slack off 10 to 25% of
                              whatever goal you set for them AT SOME POINT IN
                              THEIR LIFE.
                         (b) That doesnít mean parents should plan on it, but
                              it does happen sometimes.
                         (c) If you suspect your child isnít going to hit the
                              mark you are setting 100% of the time, just what
                              are you willing to settle for?
            2. This young man paid lip service to his father but had no follow
        D. So what do we have here.
            1. Two sons, neither of whom were ideal, but at least the first
                son found out that it was too late to obey.
            2. He rebelled first, but then, in time, he repented and obeyed.
            3. Was his father pleased?  Yes, perhaps not as much as if he did
                not have such a rebellious spirit in the first place, but the
                father was happy.
        E. In this parable. Jesus is giving a spiritual message.
            1. The father is God.
            2. The first son is the child who is hard to win, but eventually,
                he turns to Christ.
            3. The second son is the child who gives lip service to God, but
                never accepts Christ.
            4. Folks, the best we can be is the first son.
                a. We have all rebelled against God, some longer than others.
                b. But if you have life, it is not too late.
                c. Turn to Christ today.

   II. What kind of God accepts the rebellious childís late obedience?
        A. So far, a good portion of our time has been spent looking at children.
            1. We need to consider the Father of this parable.
            2. As bad as the children were in this parable, the fatherís goodness
                excelled beyond them.
                a. Why do I say that?
                b. Because the fatherís goodness covered his sonsí rebellion.
            3. I have already mentioned that the father of this parable is God,
                our heavenly Father.
        B. What kind of God would accept a rebellious child?
            1. A loving God.
                a. The father has two sons, both of them are showing signs of
                    rebellious and disobedience.
                b. The father could send them both packingÖ cut them out of his
                    willÖ even have them stoned according to the Old Testament
                c. But he doesnít!  Why?  Because he is their father and he loves
                    (1) Have you ever heard the expression, "Heís a son only a
                         mother could love?"
                    (2) It hints at an important Biblical truth - Some people are
                         so wicked that only a loving Father could love them.
                    (3) That Father is God!
                d. I do not understand it, but I sure do rejoice in the fact that
                    God is a loving God!
                    (1) Godís love is greater than our sin - thatís not just the
                         title of a son that is a fact.
                    (2) Godís love is like a fatherís love.
                    (3) It will cover your sin.
            2. A forgiving God.
                a. This parable is very short.
                    (1) Only a few verses long.
                    (2) It does not get into what happened at the end of the day.
                b. But what do you suppose would have happened.
                    (1) The son who promised to work in the field, would the
                         father be pleased with him?   I donít think so.
                    (2) And what about the son that vocally refused to go but then
                         did?  What would the father do?
                         (a) Oh, I think he would work on the sonís mouth.
                         (b) But I also think the father would forgive him.
                              i. That means, the father would forget it.
                             ii. Yes, sin was involved, but the son repented.
                            iii. So the father would have forgiven him.
                c. I know that is what our heavenly Father would do.
                    (1) How do I know it?
                    (2) Because that is what He has done foe me more times than I
                         can count.
            3. An understanding God.
                a. Have you ever wondered why God refers to Himself as a Father in
                    the Bible?
                    (1) Well, it is not because He has actually reproduced
                         anything or anyone.
                    (2) It is because He wants us to understand somethings about
                         Him that words do not always express clearly.
                b. When we look at the good father-son, or mother-daughter, or
                    parent-child relationship, we notice something.
                    (1) When a child does something to disappoint the parents, and
                         repents, not only does the parent love and forgive the
                         child, but the parent also understands.
                    (2) That is not to say that the parent approves of what the
                         child did; but, in those situations, the good parent
                         will remember a time when they did something that
                         disappointed their parents, and they will understand.
                c. I do not mean to lower Godís nature to ours, but I think one of
                    the things you and I enjoy after the incarnation of Jesus, is
                    that we have a Savior who understands.

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the
heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

  III. What is the twist?  Three truths about the twist.
        A. \\#31-32\\ The twist is not in the parable, it is in the explanation.
            1. The twist is not so much in the understanding the parable.
            2. The twist is in understanding the identities of the two sons.
        B. The twist is that the publicans and harlots were the first son.
            1. Remember, Jesus is giving the parable to temple and city leaders.
                a. These esteemed leaders all claimed to be doing the will of God,
                    but they were the ones who were rejecting Jesus as Messiah.
                b. WE WOULD THINK that the religious would eventually come around.
                c. WE WOULD THINK that good people, smart people, people who say
                    they love God, would eventually accept Jesus.
                d. But Jesus already KNEW what these religious elities would do.
            2. But standing in the same crowd, are crooked tax collectors and
                a. These are the kinds of people that WE WOULD THING would be
                    too hard-hearted for the gospel.
                b. Yet, they will hear this parable and its message, "It is not
                    too late"; and many of them respond.
            3. \\#31\\ Jesus knew the publicans and harlots WOULD go to heaven.
                a. Most of the time, people living in such open sin are not the
                    ones WE THINK OF as TRUSTING CHRIST.
                    (1) WE THINK OF THEM as hard core.
                    (2) To be honest, we are a little fearful to give them the
                    (3) They do fit the description of the rebellious son who at
                         first says, "NO, I WILL NOT DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER."
                b. But when given a change to be saved, with love and not
                    condemnation, Jesus knew they would accept Him.
            4. \\#32\\ And He knew the religious would not.
                a. Jesus knew these people were the ones who were willing to do
                    lip service but nothing more.
                b. He knew that they would REPENT NOT, that they would never do
                    the Fatherís will.
        C. The twist is that even though Jesus is preaching the message, "It is
            not too late," for some it almost was.
            1. As Jesus was preaching that message, it was not too late for anyone
            2. I believe that Jesus knew what the Jewish leaders were going to do;
                but they still had time and opportunity, they could be saved.
            3. But the problem with an using the expression I used for the title
                of the message is that the expression wonít always be true.
                a. Car dealers ran a lot of sales across the New Year.  Some came
                    back the first of January saying, "If you havenít bought that
                    new car, itís not too late.  We are going to continue the
                    sale."  But if you go see them the first of March, it will be
                    too late.
                b. A lot of jewelers are running sales for Valentineís Day.  They
                    may run an ad this Thursday that says, "If you have not bought
                    her that diamond yet, itís not too late."  But if you go see
                    them the last day in February, it will be too late.
                c. Jesus told these Jewish leaders as He stood before them that it
                    was not too late, but there came a day when it was too late.

For you, it is not too late.  Maybe you have refused Jesus before, but today, you
can repent, and come, and accept Him.  Before it is too late, would you accept
Jesus as your Savior?

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