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“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.'
" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"
"The first," they answered.
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 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.” ~Mt 21:28-32



To understand the hidden meaning behind the parable, we need to understand who the target audience was. When this parable was preached in the temple, it was intended as an admonishment to answer the questions posed by the chief priests and the elders of the Jews. The parable consists of three characters: the father, the elder son, and the younger son. The father represents God, the Heavenly Father; the elder son, the tax collectors and the prostitutes; the younger son, the chief priests and the elders.

The focus of the parable was to identify which of the two sons obeyed the father. Both of them were given the same instructions by their father, to go and work in the vineyard. Initially, the elder son disobeyed the father’s instructions by saying that he would not go but felt guilty afterwards and eventually changed his mind and went to work in the vineyard. The younger son did just the exact opposite. He agreed immediately to his father’s instructions saying, “I will, sir,” however, he ended up not going to work in the vineyard. Of the two sons, who obeyed the father’s instructions? Without a doubt, we would agree that it was the one who went to work in the vineyard – the elder son. The younger son was merely paying lip service and had no intention of working in the vineyard. In deciding who truly obeyed the father’s instructions, we determine it by identifying the action taken and not the spoken words. By not going to work in the vineyard, however pleasing the words are, they are but mere empty talk, an attempt of deceit to satisfy the father temporarily.

The parable above clearly shows how the Heavenly Father relates Himself to the chief priests, elders, tax collectors and the prostitutes. The chief priests and elders were experts of God’s Law and their dutiful attitude towards the keeping of the Law was above reproach. Whereas the tax collectors and prostitutes openly disobeyed God’s Law. Everyone knows that the chief priests and elders were the role models in the keeping of the Law of God. On the other hand, the tax collectors and prostitutes were the exact opposite. No one would ever consider the tax collectors and prostitutes to be the true followers of God’s Law and label the chief priests and elders as law breakers. However, the Lord revealed through His parable a shocking truth no one would believe.