Jesus has finally arrived in Jerusalem, where he predicted he will suffer and die. Now he has overtaken the temple area, the center of commercial, political, and religious life. Amid its crowd, he begins to spar with the chief priests and elders of the city.
To their questioning of his authority, Jesus says he’ll answer if they tell him where John the Baptist’s authority comes from. This puts his adversaries in a no-win situation with the public. If they say “from God,” they look foolish for not changing their ways; if they say “from humans,” they mock the crowd who reveres John. So they play dumb and refuse to answer, and that’s where today’s parable comes in.The parable is meant for us as well, calling us to change our minds when we have determined all too quickly who will and won’t be entering God’s reign with us. Click To Tweet
When Jesus asks them which son did the father’s will, their response inevitably indicts them before the crowd. The elders and chief priests want to be seen as obedient to God, but their lack of action to John’s call to repent reveals only their obstinance to change.
We might cheer Jesus’s victory and say good riddance to the stubborn elders. However, remember that both sons in the parable remain children of the father, and both will receive their inheritance. The parable is meant for us as well, calling us to change our minds when we have determined all too quickly who will and won’t be entering God’s reign with us.