I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
When the father in Matthew 21 asked his sons to work in the vineyard, the second son said, “I’ll go, Father.” But he did not follow through on that commitment. Now let’s look at the first son’s response: “He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went” (v. 28-29). For some reason, this son had a feeling of rebellion in his heart, and he said to his father, “I am not going to do what you asked me to do.” But later, he had a change of heart and decided to obey.
Jesus asked the Jewish leaders in verse 31, “‘Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.’” If the second son represented the Jewish leaders who professed to love God but never followed through, then the first son represented the Gentiles, who for thousands of years had rejected God but then had a change of heart. Jesus was saying to the Jews, “It is these who initially rejected Me and are coming to Me now who are going to be in the kingdom of God before you.”
I think this parable has two specific applications. First of all, there is an application for non-Christians. Maybe you are hesitant to come to God because you think you have sinned too much for God to forgive you. But Jesus was saying, “Even somebody on the bottom rung of the moral ladder who trusts in Christ as Savior is more holy in God’s eyes than a religious person who never confesses his need for forgiveness.” No one is beyond the realm of God’s forgiveness.
But I believe the primary application of this passage is for Christians, and that is this: it is not our first response that is important but our final response.
Maybe you have wandered away from God, and you think you are too far gone to ever come back to Him. It does not matter how far you have wandered away from God–it is never too late to turn around and come back to a right relationship with Him. You see, Satan loves to paralyze us with guilt and keep us from returning to God. But the first son illustrates that it does not matter what your first response is–it is your final response that makes a difference. It is never too late to start doing the right thing. Wherever you are, you can turn around and head home to God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Other Story About The Two Sons” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org