In the parable of the two sons Jesus Christ told the story of a son who at first rebelled against his father's command to work in the vineyard, but who later regretted his rebellion and went and did the work afterall. A second son, given the same command, verbally committed himself to do the work, but failed to follow through with this commitment.

The words of Jesus in this parable confront each one of us with our personal rebellion against God: either in the openness of the first son's 'I will not', or in the two-faced rebellion of the second, who said 'I will, sir' but didn't.

This rebellion began when Adam and Eve rejected both God and his command, and it has characterized human existence ever since. It is one of the recurring themes of the Bible.

In the face of this rebellion, confronting this rebellion, is the amazing love of God, in which he extends to his rebellious creatures the offer of an incredible reconciliation.

The availability of reconciliation with God is very present in this parable: Jesus, applying the significance of the parable for his hearers, said 'the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ...' Those who by their overt lifestyle had been screaming their rebellious 'No' against God and his high purpose for human life, had now said 'Yes' to him by believing the teaching first of John the Baptist and then of Jesus.

But the others among his hearers, those  who gave lip-service to God, those who gave the appearance of submission to him - what of them?

With hardened hearts they observed the reconciliation with God enjoyed by the prostitutes and tax-collectors, but saw no need to personally repent and believe. Somewhere God and his penetrating word had become secondary to their confidence in their own rightness. Somewhere they had lost touch with the pervasive reality of their personal sinfulness. Somewhere they had lost connection with God.

He now stands before them in human flesh and they do not even recognize him. He now stands before them challenging them to repent and believe, and they will not listen.

Each one of us is challenged by these two sons - their two choices are also in our hands: either we have reversed our rebellion against God by genuine repentance and faith, or we continue to live in persistent overt or covert rebellion.


Scriptures: Matthew 21:28-32; Genesis 3; John 5:36-40; 8:19.


Copyright Rosemary Bardslsy 2004, 2010