2017-10-08 – Matthew 21.28-32 – Actions Speak Louder Than Words
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
2017-10-08 – Matthew 21.28-32 – Actions Speak Louder Than Words, pg 23
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you.
Today’s message is called Actions Speak Louder Than Words.
To start out the message this morning, I have a little video clip to show you from the trailer of the movie Unbroken. It is an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero “Louie” Zamperini who, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, then he was rescued by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp for an additional two years.
You may have noticed in this video, Louie had a couple catch phrases, “If you can take it you can make it”. “A Moment of Pain is Worth a Lifetime of Glory”; and “Light Will Always Follow Darkness”; And Louie’s actions throughout this ordeal was a testament that he not only said the words, he lived by them and almost died by them. The title of our message today is Actions Speak Louder than Words, and Louie is a good example that concept lived out.
Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 21:28, page 23 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us Pray…
To start this message out this morning, as shown in this chapter 21 of Matthew’s Gospel, you should know that at this point in Jesus’ ministry, He had just entered the city of Jerusalem for the last time on a colt as they shouted Hosanna in the Highest. Then as Jesus went along He saw that the temple was being defiled by hoodlums and He drove them out. Shortly after that, scripture says that Jesus cursed a barren fig tree and immediately it withered. I would propose that the fig tree was representative of the Jewish nation and that it too was baring no good fruit. And Jesus here is like a fruit inspector, as He judges the fruit of our lives as well. People were watching intently as He was performing miracles and He told them that the same Holy Spirit power He had is available to anyone who has faith. Finally they asked Jesus about His authority. I will read this section, starting at verse 23 as it sets up well our message for today.
23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things…
25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”
And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
The key verse here is this last one.. “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. Because there is a big difference between telling and doing. And again, that is why this message today is called Actions Speak Louder than Words. That is the setup for our parable today called that is referred to as The Parable of the Two Sons. Then Jesus said to them, starting at verse 28,
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. [PAUSE]
The Jewish chief priests and the elders were questioning Jesus that day, they were questioning His authority. Although they looked righteous, and they talked like dedicated religious leaders, but in fact they were duplicit (two-faced) in their hearts, and Jesus knew that. Remember, as said previously, Jesus is the great fruit inspector. Jesus knew they didn’t have any fruit, just like the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit. Their words were shallow, self-serving, and without God.
Jesus gave these folks this parable about the two-sons, as He gave so many teaching moments before, for the purpose of allowing the listeners that day to see things in a different light. So they could internalize the message and therefore learn from it and perhaps choose to adjust their thinking and their doing a little in the process.
Many of us here today have raised children, and can easily put themselves in the place of the father Jesus is talking about here. And all of us probably experienced these same dynamics as we ourselves were young. However, in growing up, we are expected to mature. The bible says we are to put away with our childhood ways. One of those ways we should put away as we mature is the lack of honesty and integrity. Matthew 5:37 says “let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.” Here these sons had different answers, the first son initially said no, and the second son, said yes to the father. We don’t know why the first said no, but it seemed to be even disrespectful the way he said it, “I will not” he said. But then he came around and did as the father desired. The second son in contrast seemed very respectable, “I go sir” he said. Which I got to believe made the father glad to hear. But then followed up with nothing. It was a shallow promise that was later broken. Broken Promises, Ever been there? Maybe you can identify with the parent here, or maybe you’re the son? We have all been probably been on both sides of this equation at one time or another, and that is why Jesus probably used this parable. Because we can identify with it. We have lived it.
Then Jesus asked “Which of the two did the will of his father?” The key words in His question that day was did the will. That word did refers to actions not words. And actions surely speak louder than words. Immediately the priests and elders responded with “the first”, meaning the son who initially said he wouldn’t do it, but then did the will of the father. Then Jesus correlates that parable “first son” with that of tax collectors and prostitutes. It takes a moment to contemplate that correlation, but let’s look at the lives of the tax collectors and prostitutes for a moment. Tax collectors and prostitutes were considered the dredge of society. They lowest of the low. They didn’t live according to expected norms of the day. They didn’t act righteously and thus with their actions and probably even with their looks they are saying just like the first son said, “I will not” to societal norms and showed disrespect to the father. However, when it came right down to it, the son did what was desired of them by the father, and so did the tax collectors and prostitutes.
You should know that John the Baptist was a rough looking character but he spoke truth and everyone went to him out in the wilderness for his wisdom and teaching, even the priests and elders of the day respected John the Baptist. But John shouted that they were to repent from their sins. The tax collectors and the prostitutes listened and did what John asked, just like the first son did in our parable. Whereas, according to Jesus, the priests and the elders, although they heard the same message, they did not repent, and they did not head John’s message about the coming savior messiah. Now the messiah Jesus Christ stood before them, and they rejected Him. Jesus told them that the tax collectors and prostitutes will go before them to heaven. Which was effectively saying that in God’s eyes the Jewish priests and elders were below that of the tax collectors and prostitutes. I am sure they were insulted by Jesus’ comments that day.
Jesus didn’t come to make friends with those who thought they were in charge back then. He was in many ways a rebel in their eyes. Political Correctness meant nothing to Him then or now. In love Jesus was speaking truth, and He wants us to speak that same truth in love as well. Like Jesus, we should be more interested in saving their eternal souls than codling their brief mortal pride.
But this message today isn’t about lying or telling the truth, it is more about the doing. Are we doing the will of the Father?
The priests and elders looked really good. They dressed well; they spoke with eloquence; they went to the synagogue and temple all the time; but they lost their first love. They were looking the part, but their doing was broke. Jesus set an example for all of us to follow. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And Love your neighbor as yourself. This is called the Greatest Commandment. Jesus said all the other commandments can be rolled up into this. Loving thy neighbor involves the doing. The priests and elders were all show and no go. They really didn’t love thy neighbor and Jesus wanted them to know that God sees right through them.
Most of you all know the 23rd Psalm. In that Psalm it says that “Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over”, do you remember that. Wel “That which runneth over” is what comes out of a full cup. The cup is your cup that God actively fills. That which spills out is what is the evidence of what you are filled up with. When our cup runs over, it becomes a blessings to others. Those that get grace, give grace. Those that are forgiven, forgive. Those that receive much love, show much love. When you show love, you are doing.. doing God’s will. That same 23rd psalm closes with, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Here the words “shall follow me”, means that something is spilling out. That you are so blessed and it is leaving a path of righteousness. If you are doing God’s will, goodness and mercy shall follow me.. What are you leaving in your wake, goodness and mercy? Or something else? These priests and elders were not leaving much goodness and mercy in their wake, and Jesus knew it, and He was calling them out.
In this parable, are you more like the first son, or a second son? The first son repented, repented means turning around. I am sure the father in this parable loved both his sons. And when this first son repented, when he did the fathers will, the father was pleased. Jesus was trying to tell the Jewish folk then, and us now, that it isn’t what you say or how you look that pleases Father God. It isn’t your eloquence of speech or the clothes you wear that will get you into Heaven. The Jewish folk present that day were probably offended. But they were so vein that they probably pointed to one another thinking it is probably the other guy Jesus is talking about here. But if Jesus didn’t call them out, if Jesus didn’t tell them the truth, then they would have had no opportunity to get their life right and repent. That’s what Jesus is wanting for them and us today.
Matthew 7 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven”
Again, what you do in loving thy neighbor, is an indication of what is pouring out of your Holy Spirit filled soul. And if you are not doing, then maybe you should reassess your relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Father God. God loves you all so much that He is willing to call us out sometimes as is needed so we can be saved.
Lets play a game of “What if” – What if Jesus wasn’t really who He said He was? What if Jesus didn’t die on the cross for our sins? What if Jesus didn’t rise from the grave? What if Jesus didn’t prepare a place for us in heaven… What if, What if, What if.. Have you ever thought along these lines? Most folks have at some point in their lives.. And it is okay to question as long as we don’t leave it festering. Questions of this sort should cause us to dig deeper into Scripture.
- S. Lewis, one of the most recognized theologians in history, speaking in 1942, gave a most memorable argument formulation in this regard, He said:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God”. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being [simply] a great human teacher.
In other words, you got to know if you have read His words, that Jesus was either the Son of God, or He was a mad man. There really is no in between. He is either the greatest liar, or God incarnate. You cannot read his words and just think he was just a kind soul or wise man. Anyone who poses such a claim is an idiot. Jesus is the Savior of the world. Will you choose to really believe it. If so, will you choose to dedicate your lives to His calling on your life? Does your actions show what is in your heart.
The video we started out this morning about ”Louie” Zamperini, showed that he stood up for and lived out the words that he said. He was a man of his word. I only found out yesterday that the Island he was initially held captive was the same Island I was stationed on in the south Pacific called Kwajalein. I find that amazing because it is just a two mile dot on the Pacific. Who would of figured. During an interview Louie said that Kwajalein was also known as Execution Island. “I would have rather been left on the raft,”
Here is a picture of Louie, shortly after he was rescued. One other phrase that Louie said, you might have caught in the video clip, he said in prayer “If you get me through this I swear I’ll dedicate my whole life to you”. Well, the rest of the story is, Louie, was rescued, Louie became a decorated war hero. But Louie also had severe depression following all that. He was married and almost lost his marriage and his life as he was struggling with anger.
Then one day his wife, as a last resort begged him to go to a Billy Graham event in their local town. The first night she gave her life to Christ, but Louie walked out. A few days later, he went back with her and was about to walk out one more time, when Billy said something to the effect about giving up. Louie reflected upon the promise that he made to God while drifting at sea. That immediately changed Louie’s perspective and he too decided to let go and let God take control of his life. From that moment, he was a changed man. Louie, finally stood by his words to God that day, and his life was forever changed as a result. He worked with Billy Graham transforming lives until he died in July 2014; he was 97 years old.
Louie served the lord, just like he said he would do, for the rest of his life. He was a standup, sold out Christ follower and servant. He left a huge wake of love and compassion for his fellow man. Louie was a dooer of God’s word.
[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..