Jesus entered the temple court and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changes and the benches of those selling doves.
It is written, he said to them. My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers. The blind and the lame came to him at the temple and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things that he did and the children shouting in the temple courts. Hosanna to the son of David, they were indignant.
Do you hear what these children are saying they asked him? Yes, replied Jesus. Have you never read? From the lips of children and infants you lord have called forth your praise, and he left them and went out of the city to Bethany where he spent the night. Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves.
Then he said to it, may you never bear fruit again? Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. How did the fig tree wither so quickly they asked? Jesus replied, truly, I tell you.
If you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the victory. But also you can say to this mountain, go throw yourself into the sea and it will be done. If you believe you will receive whatever you are for in prayer. Jesus entered the temple courts, and while he was teaching the chief priests and elders of the people came to him, By what authority are you doing these things? They asked, and who gave you this authority?
Jesus replied, I will also ask you 1 question. If you answer me, me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism, where did it come from? Was it from heaven or of human origin? They discussed it amongst themselves and said, if we say from heaven, he will ask, then why don't you believe him?
But if we say of human origin, We are afraid of the people for they all hold that John was a prophet, so they answer Jesus. We don't know. Then he said, neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things? What do you think? There was a man who had 2 sons.
He went to the first and said, son, go and work today in the vineyard. I will not, he answered But later, he changed his mind and he went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, I will, sir. But he did not go.
Which of the 2 did what his father wanted? The first, they answered. Jesus said to them, truly, I tell you, the tax collectors, the prostitutes are enter entering the kingdom of heaven of god ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Good evening and welcome from me. My name is Chris Tilly. I'm 1 of the elders here at Cornerstone Church. I love how Phil tried to pin his earlier mistake on me. I think it's probably just sour grapes because for them lost to aston villa earlier.
So we'll leave it at that. See sour grapes. Exactly. If you were here this morning, you'll know that we we preached an incredibly similar passage to the parable that we're gonna focus on this evening. And it's always interesting when that happens because unless I'm just some kind of puppet on a string here, I don't think we plan that.
So unless Rory did and just wants me to come up and and preach the same thing again, it means God wants us to hear something twice in 1 day. And so when that happens, I think we need to be listening doubly hard. So let me pray before we start. Father we do, we do pray that you would help us. We pray that you would settle our minds in our hearts that you would you would give us a clarity of mind.
You would clear our our heads to make space for your word. Get rid of the distractions, get rid of the the thoughts that lead us off the daydreams, whatever it is that may stop us and be a hurdle to to hearing your word. Please remove that. Please help me to be clear. Remove any hurdles in my speech.
Any barriers that I I may say that may may, not be helpful. So we do pray for these things. We pray for your help now so that we might hear more about you, more about your son, our men. What do you think of yourself? It's a hard question, isn't it?
What do you think of yourself? How do you see yourself in what light, do you do you see yourself? Something that, a a few of us here used to say fairly regularly. I don't know why we don't anymore was you're not good. She used to say you're not good.
Just randomly at random moments. And it was kind of, I guess, as a way of reminding ourselves to keep ourselves humble, to to to have the right respect, perspective on ourselves. You're not good. So when I ask you, how do you view yourself? Good or not good?
What do you think? Do you do you think that you're you're essentially alright? You're essentially pretty good. Or if I said you're not good, how would you feel? You're not good.
How would you feel about that? Because How you see yourself? What you think of yourself in those terms will determine your choices. And your outcome. And that's essentially what Jesus is driving at in the passage that we just read from start to finish.
Now we're focusing on the parable of the 2 sons, but we read the rest for context so we know why Jesus is telling this parable at all. Because it comes in halfway through a conversation, doesn't it? What do you think? It's like, oh, okay. So we need to know what's going on here.
The themes that Jesus is dealing with are ones of promise and disappointment but also repentance and forgiveness. And we all know what it's like for something to promise so much only to let us down and disappoint points in the end. On a very fundamental level, humans are very good at promising much. But delivering very little at putting on a a an outward show, but actually not having much substance to to really back it up. It's it's a bit like when marriages break down, we see this we see this sadly too much.
Promise, we make promises like, I I will and promise and disappointment key ingredients in marriage breakdowns especially when, when, repentance and forgiveness are missing marriage days are full of promise, full of promises in in sickness and in health. For richer, for poorer. Everyone's hopeful for the married couple. Everyone's full of this promise but if those promises stop being backed up with appropriate actions, the relationship breaks down. Effectively the I will becomes an unspoken, I will not.
And the actions become self serving rather than selfless. And on the outside, everything can even appear to be fine, can't it? People can even fool themselves into believing it, but the reality is it can be a bit of a sham. As we just go through the motions convincing ourselves that we're essentially alright that that we're not breaking these promises. How do we stop that from happening?
How do we prevent that? Well, in order for promises to not become mere disappointments, we need repentance and forgiveness. If we can't repent ourselves and ask for forgiveness, and forgive then promises crumble into disappointment. And that's exactly the kind of thing that Jesus starts dealing with. It's what he finds when he enters Jerusalem at the beginning of the passage we just read.
So where we are, we're not preaching through the book, but we need to know this context for this particular parable. Jesus has just come into Jerusalem. He's just had the whole triumphal entry and he goes up to the temple courts and he encounters the behaviors of the people within On the outside, the temple is grand and impressive. It's god's house. It's the most important building in in the Jewish world.
That alone just Jerusalem, a place that would appear to be full of promise. But on the inside, There's no fruit to be found except rotting fruit at at best. Money lenders and merchants profiteering off of worshipers and the leaders are are doing nothing to stop this. In fact, quite the opposite. So he drives them out.
And then the very next day, he, he leaves the city and he wakes up the next morning, and he's on his way back into Jerusalem again, and he gives us this picture of a fig tree. It's a funny little story in many ways. But he's on his way into Jerusalem and he's hungry. He wants some breakfast and saw a promising looking victory. How convenient?
But as he gets closer, even though the fig tree looks like it's in leaf, it's vibrant, it's full of life, When you lift up the branches and have a look, there's nothing to it. Not a fig. I guess that might be where we get that saying from. The victory was deceptive, deceptive victory, and unproductive just as the temple had been. So he curses it and it withers and it dies and it's all rather dramatic.
He just carries on from the fig tree. He goes back up into Jerusalem. He enters the temple courts again and he's immediately challenged by the chief priests and the elders of the of the people. Who demand to know by what authority are you doing these things? Clearing out the temple, and saying the things that you're saying.
And that sits in motion, the interaction that leads to Jesus telling the parable of the 2 sons. Jesus says he will answer their question if they answer a question of his first. John's baptism. John the Baptist John's baptism, where did it come from? Was it from heaven or was it of human origin?
And this poses a huge issue for them because if they say from heaven then Jesus is gonna say, then why didn't you believe him? Because you didn't, You went down to see him. You heard what he had to say. He called you to repent and you didn't believe him. But if they say from human origin, the people are gonna be up in arms because they believe that he hears a prophet from heaven.
And if there's 1 thing the chief priests and the elders and the pharisees are scared of, It's the people. It's the people's wrath because that could mean loss of income, loss of power, loss of head from shoulders if things get too heated. So they cop out. We don't know. They say.
They sit on the fence. So Jesus says, well, then neither will I tell you by what authority I'm doing these things? However, what he does do is tell them a parable to further expose the motives of their hearts. So what do you think? That's how Jesus starts the parable.
What do you think of this? There was a man who had 2 sons He went to the first and said, son, go and work today in the vineyard. Oh, it seems like a reasonable enough request, doesn't it? Actually sounds quite nice and on this day on the day's work on the family estate. It sounds better than the job I do, actually.
I'd quite like to do this for a living. And it should be an honor. Shouldn't it that the father trusts his son to take care of business. It's good for parents to teach their kids to work. Right?
Kids listen up if you're if you're here. Lazing around all day or doing whatever ever we want to do is the most appealing thing for people especially for children, but for adults as well, we love doing nothing all day. And yet at the same time, it's the most well, 1 of the most destructive habits we can get into. I can remember I could tell you about summer holidays where I spent weeks just watching TV playing computer games barely even saw sunlight and all it did was make me want to be even more lazy. I had nothing to show for it at the end of 6 weeks of holiday.
What a waste of time? Could've been in so much more stuff. Work is good for discipline. It's good because it serves other people. And therefore it's good for relationships.
No 1 appreciates lazy work colleagues or spouses or even or even friends. You can work out pretty quickly where Jesus is going with this. The father in the parable represents God. It's it's fairly obvious, isn't it? And we know from the Bible that god is a loving father.
We're we're told this in many different ways, too many for me account. I don't really even need to give you the examples. You can find it for yourselves all over the place, but he's a loving father and he disciplines the 1 that he loves. He disciplines the 1 that he loves and part of discipline is teaching, putting them to work. And we know, so when god goes to his children and says go to work in a vineyard today, we can know that yes, it might be hard work.
We should expect it to be very hard work, but we can be sure that it's for our good and the good of others. He wants them to go and prepare the soil for the upcoming growing season. He wants them to go and cultivate the vines see that they produce fruit. He wants them to prune any of the dead or disease branches that are sapping energy away from the vines. He wants them to protect the vines from any pests that come in.
Have you ever noticed? I don't know if any of your garden, but everything has a bug. That just wants to annihilate it. Carrots have a carrot fly. Don't know if you know that.
Have you ever tried growing loop ins? They have a loop in aphid. They appear from nowhere overnight and demolish your aphids in hours, loop ins and hours. Everything has a pest. And he wants them to do this so that he can harvest He can harvest the fruit and refine it into fine wine.
This is the work he wants them to go and do, and he wants them to do it today. You noticed that? It's urgent work. It needs doing now. You cannot do it by night, and tomorrow's not guaranteed.
So please would you go today and do the work. Now, what is the first son's response to this the first son that he goes to well. The first son proved better than he promised as Matthew Henry puts it, which I thought was a great little line. He proved better than he promised but my goodness he doesn't start out very well at all, does he? I will not is the answer.
Look, his dad, dead in the eye. Stares him, eyeballs him. I will not. It's like a challenge almost. It's like a what's gonna happen next?
It could get his block knocked off here. What's about to happen? I will not do it. Can you imagine if I can you imagine going into work tomorrow and your boss calling you in for a meeting, outlining a task that he wants you to do. So it's a very important task.
If the future of the company rests on it, and, you sit there and go. I will not. Can you imagine what he's gonna say? Or she? Can you imagine?
I I've got I've got a few ideas about what my boss might do. It wouldn't be very pleasant. And what makes this even worse? It's not just an employer employee here. This is a son and a father.
A son and a father. The person who gave the son life raised him up, cared for him. Changed his nappies if they had such a thing in those days. Fed fed him, provided a roof all for him to say no, I will not lift a finger for you in return. There's no respect.
There's no honor. There's no humility. There's a lazy self serving attitude that that's a pain for any parents to deal with, and actually a huge affront It's a huge affront. By all rights, the father could have just disowned him there and there on the spot. You know, son of mine then and kicked him out.
So serious is the offense in that time. Some some people even say that death could have been the outcome for the for this sun. So serious was the was the issue here, but it didn't go that way. The disobedient son was allowed to go about his day because the father showed grace and he showed restraints. When he could have shown something entirely different.
And as the song goes about his day, we're not told exactly what it is. We're not told exactly how it happens, but at some point in the course of the day, he changes his mind. We're told He changed his mind, and he went and worked in the vineyard. Bella late than never, right? Bella late than never.
I mean, if if he was if he was a temple like a picture of the temple, he would have looked a little bit like a derelict abandoned old building and you would go inside and the whole thing's crumbling. Absolutely. No promise here whatsoever. This place is about to fall down and in all of a sudden whoosh people come flocking in and it's the biggest party you've ever seen. Suddenly it springs to life.
Or if he was a fig tree, he would have been like a dried up stump. That suddenly sprouted. I had, I had a wisteria in my garden that was an absolute pain, so I dug it up and just left it there for months, months and months and months. And it was just this dried up shriveled old stump. And, and then I thought, you know what?
I wonder what happens if I put this back in the ground. It did. Next morning, I came out. It was taking over the fence again. It was incredible.
That's what this sun's like. Absolutely. No promise whatsoever. And then all of a sudden, whoosh, she's off. Bellaate them never, but not a great start at all.
The second son, when the father goes to him, on the other hand, is is a is a very different story indeed. He promised better than he proved. Promise better than he proved. He shows All of the promise in the world, doesn't he his answer? It's just a model of respect.
I will, sir. Know, he gets that 1 in, doesn't he? I will, sir. So the father can confidently go about the rest of his day now. Knowing that his second son is promptly taking care of business.
If you get the first son, he's off doing whatever he wants, but son number 2, nice 1, son. Well done. Except the second son simply just doesn't go, does he? I will, sir. He said he would do it.
And then he went off and did his own thing. And this doesn't appear, to be because he was too busy, or that he simply forgot. It seems to appear that he just made an active decision to simply not do what was asked of him The request was plain and he chose he chose to deceive and bunk off. That's what he chose. A bit short sighted because the dad's gonna find out.
So idiot, what are you doing? What are you thinking? And kids always do this, don't they? You think you're never gonna get found out, and then, of course, you definitely get found out every single time. And can you imagine the father's anger when he does?
Can you imagine the father's anger when he does? Parents, I'm sure you you've got a few stories to tell here, and I'm sure I will in a couple of years. I know my my parents certainly do about me. Or if you've ever managed someone, you'll know how frustrating a thing this is, the excuses, the cover ups, the blame game that starts tumbling out when it catches up to you, and you haven't done the thing that you're asked to do, and you said you'd do it, and you didn't do it. So what do you think?
Jesus asked the Jewish leaders, which of the 2? Which of the 2 sons did what his father wanted. And it's pretty obvious, isn't it? Neither But 1 in the end just about got there. 1 in the end just about got there.
Both sons have the same father. Both sons have, were given the same instruction. Both have the same amount of time in which to do it. Both were awful in their behavior. Yet at the end of the day, as the sun sets, only 1 of the suns is in the vineyard.
And the other 1 is not. He may have taken a security route to get there, dragged his heels and thrown a tantrum But in the end, he landed where he was supposed to. The other son didn't even get near He never had any intention of doing so, although he was keen to give the impression that he would. Which son did what his father wanted ultimately, and it's the first of course, the Jewish leader's answer And I wonder, I just wonder if as they said it, they already had an inkling of where this was going and what was coming next. Because Jesus takes it and applies it straight back at them.
He takes it and applies it straight to them. He reveals the meaning of the parable and the reason why he asked them earlier about John the Baptist in 1 hit, he kills 2 birds of 1 stone. Truly I tell you Jesus says the tax collectors and the prostitutes entering the kingdom of god ahead of you, and that's encouraging, isn't it based on what Rosie was just saying to us? The tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of god ahead of you. It's absolutely shocking.
The best that society has to offer, the chief priests, the leaders, the elders, are being told that the dregs of society are entering heaven and they are not. It's shocking. They're like the second son who for all the world looked the part. They were full of promise. They looked like they had it nailed.
They were good people according to everyone you asked, Rory went through this this morning. The similarities are really stark, aren't they? They had this appearance of righteousness. You'd wanna live in the same neighborhood as these guys. You'd wanna be associated with them.
You'd wanna be invited to the things that they get invited to. People look up and respect them. They're successful. They just do things right. And when god says do something in his law, in the in the old testament, they agree with it.
They're like, I will, sir, lord, lord. At least they do in principle. But when the time actually comes to follow the 1 that god sends, They cannot stomach it. They just cannot stomach it. First, they spurn John the Baptist who were sent to preach to them and prepare them for Jesus.
And what did he preach? He preached repentance. Repent change the direction of your actions and your thinking, admit to god that you're a wretched sinner, and you need forgiveness and you need help. But we don't need repentance. We we're okay.
We're not like these tax collectors and the chutes that John's baptizing on mass in the river. It must be filthy. Think of all the filth in that river, and you want me to get in that river with these collectors and prostitutes and be baptized alongside them. I'm not the same as them. By this man dressed in camel hair and eating locusts babbling about forgiveness and repentance that I don't need.
People come to us to confess and come to us for guidance. We're the good. We don't need this. Their pride just can't take it, but they have to listen to someone like John the Baptist showing them their faults, exposing them for who they are exactly the same as everybody else The same, even as the tax collectors, the people who leverage money from their own people for personal gain and the Romans. And prostitutes, the lowest of the lowest of the low.
And John says there's no difference between any human on this planet. You're exactly the same. You're in as much need of repentance and forgiveness as as as anyone. So just let us be careful. The next time we catch ourselves thinking, well at least I'm not like them.
You pharisee, you hypocrite. Repent. Repent. When I go into my office tomorrow and I think I'm somehow better than other people because God saved me and I know all this stuff that they don't know and I see how they live and I think well that's shocking. They shouldn't be doing these things, and I start judging them.
Be careful, Chris. Repent. You think you're any better? You think you're any better than than at all? When I walk down You're more than high street and there's so many down and outs nowadays.
And I look at them and I think thank god I'm not like them. Rather than thinking, thank you god for saving a self centered, self serving, self interested wretch like me. Which gives me pity for them rather than judging them. My goodness, our hearts are inclined to be second sons. More than we know.
More than we like to admit. More than we like to realize, and we must repent of that. We must Don't be a second son. Because if you think like that, you'll never get there. You'll never repent.
Because you don't think you need any help. The word, that it's used for repent here is same. It's it's it's it's a Greek word, metanoia, and it means change your mind. You notice in the first son, he changed his mind. He repented.
You need to meta noir your mind change your mind if you haven't already. Many tax collectors and prostitutes followed Jesus in his time. They knew they needed help. They knew it, and they were absolutely sure of it. They knew they were awful people.
They knew they were stained and degraded by the life that they'd been living. By the things that had been done to them, by the abuses that they had suffered and inflicted on on other people They were the ones who had lived the I will not lifestyle. And here's the truth. You cannot become a Christian. You cannot become a follower of Christ, unless you have gone down the same path as them.
And changed your mind, repented, admitted that you need help. None of us are good. You're not good. We are simply people who have been brought to understand that fact and have changed our minds if we call ourselves Christians and listen to god's call. That's all.
But with the same as everybody else. And what is god's call? Well, god's call, the work that he really wants us to do The thing that we need, we need a third son, don't we? Because son number 1 and son number 2 didn't really cut it. Or should I say we need a model son, or should I say we need god's son?
What they need, Sun number 1 and Sun number 2 is another son to do the things that they couldn't do. A son who responds to the call, to work in the vineyard with, I will, sir. And immediately goes and does it with all of his strength, with all of his energy, with all of his ingenuity and time and effort and pours everything into it. The only person that's ever fit that description is Jesus. Jesus is the only 1 who has never had to repent.
Never needed to. It wasn't just that he thought he was too good for it. He was too good for it. He doesn't need to. He's the definition of goodness.
He's never had to change his mind. Imagine that. He's never had to change his mind. Because it's always been perfectly aligned with the fathers. His work in the vineyard It's to it's back breaking work.
It's bloody work. It's hard toil and graft. His work is to pay the price of all of the Iowa Notters in the world who have now repented. To take the punishment that was never delivered in spite of their persistent disobedience. His work in the vineyard was to take all of that and take it to the cross and fulfill god's promise to save his people.
I will. God says, I will save my people. I will do it. There's no disappointments with God. There's promise and there's fulfillment and there is 0 disappointment.
There's no disappointment with Jesus. And as Jesus does this, you might know another story. As Jesus is doing his work, as he's, like, really just finishing off, like, the culmination of all the work, the masterpiece, if you like, the centerpiece of the vineyard, is the cross, where he really takes all of that payment. And pays it himself. He's hanging there on the cross, and who's he hanging next to?
Who's he hanging next to? Who's just to his side? A lifelong thief in general scumbag. A lifelong, I will not who's in the process of taking his final breaths. He's at the end.
And for his entire life. The thief dying next to Jesus have been saying, I will not. I will not. I will not. To god's call and yet like the first son.
In his last moment, he met someone He met someone in Jesus who changed his mind, who changed his mind, even that late in the day. The son's going down, but he ended up where he needed to. And Jesus says today you'll be with me in paradise to tell you. It's a promise, and it's fulfilled. So the question really is What do you think?
What do you think? Do you think you need repentance or not? Are you willing to change your mind if you haven't already? Perhaps perhaps you've been living your life in the I will not camp. And it's led you to such dark places created skeletons in your closet.
You knew about skeletons in mine, I'm sure you would be shocked and surprised. And if I knew about skeletons in yours, I'm sure I would be shocked and surprised. There's things within each of us that we just don't want anybody else to know, and we never wanna see the light of day. And you think you cannot possibly turn to god for forgiveness now? Well, if you if if that's you, I suggest you kind of listen to Rory's sermon from this morning.
We heard about the prodigal son. There's no such thing as too much sin to forgive. If we say there's too much sin to forgive, we say that Jesus failed. And that he's not powerful enough to forgive everything on the cross. And sin is more powerful than him.
That's not true. And remember who it was that came to him. Remember who it was that knew that tender blessing. It was the tax collectors and the prostitutes who were flocking to him to be saved. They were the ones he hung out with.
They were the ones he ate with, cared for, forgiven of all wrongdoing. And look, that promise, that what that offer, that was open to the to the chief priests. It was open to the pharisees just the same as everybody else, but they did not want to change their mind. And there's no such thing as too late in the day to change your mind, but the day to do it is today. There's no such thing as too late in the day, but the day to do it is today.
Do you hear that? Because Jesus says himself the night is coming when no man can work. Basically, the time for repentance will end at some point and none of us know when, but the offer to change your mind is here right and right here right now. To repent, to know forgiveness, to live your life for him. And perhaps you already have great.
Great if you have, but keep going with it because it's so easy to slip back into self righteousness It's just behind us all the time. You are not good, and you need Jesus always every single day. Because we just naturally slip into the second sun mode, if we're not careful. Or perhaps you are in the good person camp. The second son camp, the ones who show great promise and give an appearance of having it all together, but actually when it comes down to it, You don't really think you need help.
And certainly, you don't need forgiveness forgiveness for what exactly. I've not done anything wrong. Isn't that isn't that largely the prevailing attitude of our culture that we're we're largely good people or at least we're certainly not as bad as other people. You may have lived your life, lived your own life on your own terms and that may be perfectly acceptable by today's cultural standards, and that makes you feel quite good about yourself. I work with, I work with a guy gotta be careful because you might watch this.
I'll never know. I work with a guy who genuinely, I think is better than me and almost every he's not a Christian. But I am often I'm often left ashamed because he's just better than me. He's nicer to people. He's more caring.
He's kinder. He puts me to shame. And I just come home some days thinking, what a waste? You would make such a fantastic Christian. Why is god wasting this on me?
He'd be awesome. But he doesn't think he needs to change his mind, and it's heartbreaking to watch. If you've got nothing to apologize for, you will not change your mind. Do you see? It's an, I will sir, until it's too uncomfortable, and then I will not.
So what do you think? Will you take a moment for self examination, and will you change your mind where you need to change your mind? Because the offer's here, and it's open today.