Matthew 21:23-27 – The sinner who repents enters the Kingdom of God. The Gospel lesson tells of two sons, one of whom repented and entered the Kingdom even though at first he disobeyed the Father. In the Parable of the Two Sons we learn a valuable lesson concerning sin and an appeal to turn to God for mercy. With this parable, Jesus confronts the religious leaders of His time (priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) who condemn Jesus for His association with sinners (publicans, prostitutes, and so on). This one son who says, “I go” but does not, represents the religious leaders. The other son who says, “I will not go” but later changes his mind and obeys, represents the sinners. Moreover, Jesus points out that when the religious leaders saw sinners repenting upon hearing John the Baptist, they still did not repent. Consequently, the sinners will enter the kingdom before the leaders will.
Here is a case of repentance in action. One son refused to go to work in his father’s vineyard. Then he changed his mind and went to work. This about-face, change of mind from disobedience, from no to yes, from going in the wrong direction to turning in the right direction is the meaning of repentance. When the religious leaders heard the Baptist’s call to repentance, they did not heed it, while the sinners of the day did. It was shocking to the professional religious leaders that Jesus claimed the sinners and not the religious ones were in the kingdom.
Notice that there is action to the young man’s resolve. By the power of the Holy Spirit there is a God pleasing resolve to be righteous. It is Jesus Christ who has changed us. It is His Holy Spirit which works in us to will and to do the Father’s good and gracious will.
"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew 21:31
He who has entered the kingdom through repentance loves not just in word but in deed and in truth; his faith is not dead, without works, but alive and bearing fruit. God grant this for each of us.
“God of love. You know our frailties and failings. Give us Your grace to overcome them; keep us from these things that harm us; and guide us in the way of salvation.”