Matthew 21:28-29b
Go Work Today
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Matt. 21:28a Holman “But what do you think? A man had two sons.”

Jesus now told His parable of the two sons. When studying a parable, a story with a moral attached to it, we first need to determine its main lesson. In this story of the two sons, Jesus told the Pharisees they were not pleasing the Father, and then added insult to injury by telling them that many whom they felt were not pleasing the Father actually were.
Once a parable’s main emphasis is established, we can revisit the story with a fine toothcomb, and glean other incidental teachings. This parable has lessons aplenty for us. It applies to us today. The Bible is a written account of our times. Jesus’ words echo down with meaning through all ages to all people.

Matt. 21:28b He went to the first, and said, “My son, . . .”

The Father in our story will ask his two sons to go do work for Him. The fact the parable is about sons shows we are not to be perfunctory in our service, but to show the cheerful obedience of grateful children. The context in our parable is affection. A missionary well said, “If there is happiness on Earth, it is in laboring for Jesus.” Is it tough? Yes. Is there spiritual warfare? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. It is wonderful to have something worth giving our life to.

Matt. 21:28c “ . . . go . . .”

“Go” is the second word of Christian obedience; the first word is “come”. Holiness matters most. Our initial task is to draw close to God, to live near Him. Once we “come”, we do not settle in to horde, but absorb His benefits in order to “go”, to become a channel through which His blessing flows to others. Jim Henderson has noted, Jesus called Matthew to follow, Matthew followed, and then Jesus followed Matthew to a feast with sinners. We have followed Jesus. Where has He lately followed us as we seek to mix with the missing?

Matt. 21:28d “ . . . work . . .”

Christianity is very practical. Much work in the form of Christian service needs to be done. In every family, chores are necessary. Since we believers live in a family, we should not be surprised household work has to be done. Digging, planting, tending, pruning, and harvesting are needed. Doing these kinds of deeds help prove our claim that we have entered God’s family.
What a privilege it is to serve God and others. We are called to an opportunity John the Beloved and Paul the Apostle do not have. Pray the Lord will help us gladly do what departed saints would love to do, but cannot.

Matt. 21:28e “ . . . in the vineyard . . .”

Not in a synagogue or temple, but in a field, where harvests are sown and reaped, where spiritual help is desperately needed every day. Unfortunately, many people bring their religion out only once a week in a church building to air it out. Believers are not afforded this luxury. Fieldwork is daily work.
Some erroneously feel they can do nothing important for the Kingdom if they are not “called” to fulltime ministry. Not true. You don’t have to leave a secular job to serve God well. There is certainly a place in God’s economy for people being called fulltime, to make their living by the ministry. It is also true to say we who are paid fulltime are no more called to the work of missions and evangelism than the majority of believers, who are not paid fulltime workers.
Surrounded by Christians, I am possibly the most isolated person in our church. I have to work at it to find lost people. Many of you live and work and play in the mission field. Think of yourself as a missionary. You are one.
God put you where you are because someone needs you there. Look around, keeping in mind, the ones who bother you most may be your calling.
The fields are ripe to harvest. Don’t waste a day. Make each a day of dedication on the altar. Ask for God-eyes, to see what He sees, and for a God-heart, to love as He loves.
Hear your Pastor. If you are not serving God where you are now, you probably would not serve Him elsewhere. Missions is not a specific location or occupation. It is a heart issue, and will manifest itself wherever you are.

Matt. 21:28f “ . . . today.”

Today is all we have. Even the richest and youngest among us own not one second of tomorrow. Today is it, the sum of our past, the seed of our future, bundled into one glorious opportunity to achieve things that matter.
We should sense urgency about this current bundle we call today. We must work quickly in the Lord’s vineyard. Don’t wait to go. Complacency is as little a virtue as waywardness is. Do something, even if it’s wrong, today in the vineyard. God can redirect us easier than He can overcome our inertia.
Always act fast. Be prompt. Delayed obedience is disobedience. In this day of 24/7 stimulation we easily forget what we are about and neglect the task at hand. Many things can divert us from our resolve. Focus is tough.
I more and more find I must do things now, immediately. Write down prayer requests now; call the lost now. Now is all we have. Use it well.

Matt. 21:29a He answered, “I don’t want to!”

Rude, curt, disrespectful; no hypocrisy here, just blunt disobedience. Some see this as a virtue. People often think they will be better off with Jesus because, though they reject Him, they never pretend to be a Christian.
Is it not stunning when avowed neglectors of God see virtue in their brazenness? “I make no pretence. I’m 100% honest. I reject Jesus and am proud of it.” Odd logic. It is no credit to a thief if he says he is not honest.
It is no credit to an adulterer if he says he is not pure. It is no credit to reject Christ and say I am not a Christ-follower. We all agree, hypocrisy is not a virtue, nor is unhypocritical rejection.

Matt. 21:29b Yet later . . .”

Be grateful for the word “later”. The Father allowed time to repent. Change is possible. God’s patience is marvelous. “Later” is a grace word.
The son deserved to be disinherited, but the Father, to show grace, was patient and waited. When the son took time to think about his response, he decided to retract it. His was a bad promise wisely broken.
As a scoffer, John Bunyan once rejected salvation with a blasphemy so horrid that the people nearby tried to hush him, evidently fearing God would strike him dead. Dr. Talmage, Pastor in Brooklyn, told of a man in New York City who indignantly jumped on his Bible with both feet, but weeks later, was holding the same Bible in his lap, weeping as he read.
Echoes of our own rebellious voice can wake us. I wonder if Bunyan ever thought, “Did I say that?” The memory of our foul deeds can startle us. I wonder if the man who jumped on the Bible ever thought, “Did I do that?”
However bad our words or deeds, there is no need for despair this side of Hell. There is hope for everyone in the blood of Jesus. No sin is too vile for Him to cleanse. No sin can run beyond His reach. “Later” gives us hope.