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 home. (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 GRANTED. 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 immediately. (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 through. 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 law. c. But he doesnít! Why? Because he is their father and he loves them. (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 prostitutes. 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 gospel. (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 there. 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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