“But what do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go, work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I don’t want to! Yet later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he answered. But he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will? ‘The first,’ they said.” (Matthew 21:28-31 CSB)
Jesus told this parable in the temple complex during the days leading up to His crucifixion, and He told it during the challenges that came from the priests, scribes, and Pharisees. He followed the parable with a rather terse statement to these men, to say to them that those who do the will of God are not those who say they will but don’t, but rather are those who may first say they will not but then turn around and actually do carry out the will of God. His point was that those people these men considered “sinners” who repented at the preaching of John the Baptist would enter the kingdom of God, while those who considered themselves righteous before God but who rejected the will of God by not believing John and coming to repentance would not enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus was not saying that it is those who do good works who enter the kingdom; it is those who repent, turn to God in faith, and then carry out the will of God as a result of their faith who enter the kingdom.
Later on, as recorded in John’s gospel, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.” We do not carry out His commandments in order to get Him to love us, because His love for us is already at the maximum. We carry out His commandments because we love Him. Pure and simple.
Lord, Today, may we remember all that You have commanded us, and may we out of our love for You do what You have commanded. Amen.