A Story about Two Sons
I will tell you a story about a man who had two sons. Then you can tell me what you think. The father went to the older son and said, “Go work in the vineyard today!” 29His son told him he would not do it, but later he changed his mind and went. 30The man then told his younger son to go work in the vineyard. The boy said he would, but he didn't go. 31Which one of the sons obeyed his father?
“The older one,” the chief priests and leaders answered.
Then Jesus told them:
You can be sure tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you ever will! 32 When John the Baptist showed you how to do right, you would not believe him. But these evil people did believe. And even when you saw what they did, you still would not change your minds and believe.
Peter was sitting there when Jesus had told the story about the two sons (Luke 15:11-32). He got it. So did the highly esteemed religious leaders. And he must have been shocked when Jesus told them that repentant shysters and hookers would get into the kingdom of God long before they would. A story like that sticks with you.
We don’t know if Peter’s fishing business was about to go bankrupt or if it was listed in Galilee’s equivalent of the Fortune 500.So we don’t know if it was a big deal for him to say: “Yes!” to Jesus’ call to dump all and follow him. What we do know is that when it came to life choices, he loved fishing. When Jesus was crucified (and it seemed like it was all over), he headed right back to the boats.
Peter is a passionate guy – maybe even borderline braggart. So it surprised nobody when he swore that he’d stick with Jesus to the end. If necessary, he’d be the last standing with him. He’d never deny him . . .
But he did.
I wonder if today’s story about the defiance of the older son and the deference of the younger son came flooding back.
Today’s parable is spoken to the religious leaders just before they had Jesus put to death. They were confident of their superiority. They despised the tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus had a word for them. Being first in line wasn’t a matter of religious status, but of listening to Jesus – and believing him, and doing something about it.
Merciful Father, You see things as they really are. Please forgive me for the times that my YESes twist into NOs. Release your sanctifying grace to enable my relationship with you to mature so that I may joyfully live life in step with you. Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.