Doing The Will of God

MyTwoSonsIn the parable of the Two Sons, another parable unique to Matthew’s Gospel, the father calls one son first to go work in the vineyard. He refuses, but later relents and goes to work. The second son placates the father with a quick agreement to go and work but he never actually goes.
Then Jesus asks, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” He tells a story and then asks the listeners to answer a question.
The answer seems straightforward on first glance. The first son did the father’s will. But with a second glance, we see that both sons brought dishonor to the father, the first by his words, the second by his deeds. Neither son was in the right. One had the words, and the other had the deeds. We remember from Matthew’s conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount that merely saying the right words does not ensure entry into the kingdom of heaven. Active obedience to Jesus’ teachings must be present
Matthew probably meant his community to hear this parable as a summons to the Jewish leaders of their day to imitate the first son and join them in believing in Jesus. He also meant it as a nudge to those Christians who had initially said ‘yes’ and then wavered.
Some people struggle to ever make a commitment in the first place, but once they do, are able to muster the discipline and enthusiasm to honor it. Others seem to have less trouble coming to a decision, but then have trouble following through. Many of us fall somewhere in between.
Learning God’s ways and changing may, indeed, be a slow and practiced way of life for all of us. Dying to self means our yes is yes and our no is no. To all of us imperfect disciples, Jesus addresses the question, “Which of you is doing the will of the Father?”