All four of the Gospels have the account of Jesus clearing the temple of the money changers and people selling animals. In all of the Gospels, Jesus’ authority is questioned by the chief priests and elders. In all but John, Jesus answers them with a question about John’s baptism, asking them “was it from heaven, or of human origin?” If they answer this question, then Jesus will tell them by what authority he has cleared the temple. In all three accounts where Jesus asks this question, the reply is the same, “We don’t know.” Jesus’ reply to their lack of knowledge is the same in all three Gospels, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” Then, Jesus tells them a parable. In Mark and Luke, He tells them the Parable of the Tenants, but in Matthew, Jesus tells them the Parable of the Two Sons first. Today, I’m going to cover this parable and what it means.

Here is the Parable of the Two Sons from Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV)

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

There are three characters in this parable; the man and his two sons. Here’s a breakdown of who is who.

The man – God.
The first son – All of those Jews who don’t profess to follow the law. Tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.
The second son – All of those Jews who profess to follow the law. Pharisees, Sadducees, elders, and other teachers of the law.

Some people might think the first son represents the Gentiles and the second son the Jews. However, within the context of this parable, this doesn’t make sense because this parable hinges on one thing. John’s baptism. Although Jesus said he wasn’t going to tell the priests and elders where his authority came from, he does in this roundabout way through this parable and the follow-up parable about the tenants. To understand these parables, we need to know about John’s baptism.

John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Matthew 3:11 (NIV)

Since the Parable of the Two Sons and Talents are told in response to the question of Jesus’ authority, and Jesus hinges his response on the nature of John’s baptism and where it came from, neither of these two parables can be about anyone but the Jews of that time. No living person since John died could have been baptized by John. We can only be baptized into the name of Jesus, and our repentance comes when we profess his Name in faith.

In their rejection of John and his baptism, they also reject God, the one who sent John. Therefore, there’s no point in Jesus telling them who sent him because they rejected John’s baptism. It’s only when we read Matthew’s account of this event that we get a clearer picture of the Parable of The Tenants and why they wanted to arrest Jesus.

Thanks for stopping by! I pray this day finds you well.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.