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Matthew 21: 28-32

Pastor Robert Kim

Metro Philadelphia Church Planting

It was not that long ago when it was presumed that children would grow up with fathers. Today, we seem to live among a fatherless generation. It was a terrible experience for me navigating life without a father. God provides a solution in Psalm 68:5, where God is referred to as “the father to the fatherless.”

We live in a time when it is hard to understand what it means to be a Christian. In this parable we are given an example of true faith, repentance, and obedience.

The parable shows a father who has two children: one obeys and the other does not. The father tells his two sons, “Go and work” (Matthew 21:28). One son resists initially but changes his mind (repents) and does the job. The second son obliges in word, but never gets the job done. Through this parable, Jesus is shining a light on the religious leaders of his day who give lip service instead of demonstrating real faith. The story sounds eerily similar to that of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.

Just like the religious leaders in Jesus’ time, we can be quick to say, “Yes Lord, I’ll do your will,” but when it comes time to follow, we act like the second son and do not go. It’s as though our lips say one thing and our actions the complete opposite. Not much has changed, because a person’s actions ultimately prove whether or not he is obedient to God.

Jesus said that the teachers of the law do not enter the Kingdom, while sinners (tax collectors and prostitutes) are welcomed because they have faith, repent, and obey. You can imagine just how jaw-dropping that statement was to the religious leaders. Imagine that—churches filled with the sinners of our time. As it has been said, “The church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners.” John the Baptist proclaimed, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2). It was the first son, representing the sinners, who truly understood the Kingdom by living a life of repentance.

When I was a child and my father was not present, I was envious of loving fathers in my neighborhood. I watched fathers sacrificially teaching their sons how to ride a bike, cheering them on at sporting events, and showing up to celebrate their milestones. It was only when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ and he introduced me to his Father, that I begin to experience restoration from growing up fatherless.

What would it look like if the church emerged out of the ashes to be the people Jesus calls us to be? A people so consumed by the reckless love of God that we would live reckless lives for Jesus. A people so rich in God’s mercy that when Jesus asks us to go and work in the plentiful harvest field, we would be found as faithful workers. A people declaring to the fatherless generation that they can have a perfect heavenly Father by faith in Jesus Christ. A people so consumed by a life on mission for Jesus that we would not be stiff-necked to respond but say, “Not my will, but yours be done.”