by David Buffaloe
Jesus often used parables or stories to illustrate great truths, and in two places He begins two different parables with the phrase, "a certain man had two sons." In both parables we see "sons" mentioned: Four sons, two parables, one common beginning.
In the Gospel of Luke (15:11-13), one of the sons decided to go out and "sow his wild oats." He went to his father and asked for his inheritance so he could waste it in the world. The father, though he did not approve, allowed this young man to take off and do as he will. Every day the father waited for that son to come home, to be in the family, where he belonged. The second son obediently stayed home, yet later was angered when his repentant brother returned home.
In Matthew's Gospel (21:28-31), neither of the two sons left the comfort of the family, yet both were rebellious at heart. When the father asked the first son to go out and work in the vineyards that son was abrupt, rude, and to the point: "I will not." Yet he later repented and did as his father asked. When the father asked the second son to go and work the fields, this son's lips said "yes," but he never went. Though he spoke with honeyed tones, his actions were disrespectful.
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments," Jesus said (John 14:15). And again: "My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). Love is an action verb. "God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son" (John 3:16). If he loved his father he would have done as he was asked. A good son must "go" and "work". Good intentions mean little. The vineyard must be tended, and the sons must tend it.
These four sons all failed their fathers in one way or the other-yet they were still sons. But God the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, has never failed the Father-nor will He fail you. Believe on Him and be saved. Look on Him and live. Enter the family of God by faith and then, as a son of God, do as the Father has commanded you.
David Buffaloe is pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church in Lexington, TN.