In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus provided a symbolic comparison for the two “sons”: the tax-collectors and prostitutes, on the one hand, and the chief priests and elders, on the other hand.
Jesus considered both groups of people God’s children. But their actions, not their words, determined the true children, that is, the ones most willing to participate in the father’s business. In the allegory, Jesus equated involvement in the father’s vineyard with recognition of John’s baptism as a sign of God’s authority. Finally, to do God’s will was to put a disciple in close association with Jesus (read Matthew 12:50 and then cross reference with Matthew 7:21).
One note about the “tax-collector” is in order. Culturally, they function more like toll-collectors at city gates or on prominent roadways collecting the “tax” of traders bringing external goods into the city. The general cultural dislike or opposition toward them was because these collectors provided this service on behalf of Rome, the foreign ruling authority. Even a sampling of the passages in Matthew will make clear a general cultural feeling toward them. Throughout the narrative, they were associated with “sinners” (read Matthew. 9:10-11), “Gentiles” (read Matthew 18:17), and “prostitutes” (read Matthew 21:31-32). Nevertheless, Jesus shared meals with them even selecting one to be included in the Twelve (Matthew 10:3-Matthew-The Tax Collector!).
What’s the Holy Spirit trying to say to us? Is there something about Jesus’ authority -- and his hesitancy to express it -- that is worth discussing? Are we more like the religious authorities in our attempts to “manage” any new activity “God” may be up to? How do we test the spirits?
Is there something special about the radical nature of those who accept God’s will? The “son” most expected to understand and do God’s will -- the religious leadership -- FAIL to appreciate God’s activity in the agents of John The Baptist and Jesus, while the “son” least expected to understand and do God’s will -- that is, the one most culturally despised by the rest of us -- acknowledge God’s work in John’s baptism and message.
Make sure your YES is YES when it comes to
doing the Works of God!