Daily Word

Work = believe | Matthew 21:28-32

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before 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 when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Matthew 21:28-32 (ESV)

To the religious leaders

Jesus continues to address the religious leaders who in the last passage confronted Him about His source of authority. Now Jesus gets to the heart of the matter – where are their hearts?

Parable of two sons

Not to be confused with the “Prodigal son” parable (Luke 15:11-32), this is also about two sons and a father. Here, the father asks the sons to go to work. One rejects the request but changes his mind and works. The other says he’ll work but doesn’t; nor does he change his mind.

Work = believe 

Replace the word “work” with “believe” (as believe and follow Christ) and “change” with “repent”. Now read it again and I think you’ll understand the message clearly. The common “sinners” (like you and me) first reject the Father’s call to believe and follow him by our lifestyle and choices. Some of us, later, by grace, respond to His call, repent and believe. Thank God for this grace! The religious (not just religious leaders but all those who think they do not need salvation) may act like they believe but never repent and believe.

1-2 punch, punch #1

This is punch #1 of a 1-2 punch. Jesus loves all mankind – including these religious leaders. He is undoubtedly frustrated at their hypocrisy and superficial belief that leads them from the truth and, indeed, leads others from the truth. Jesus sought to correct their aberrant thinking using even the most straightforward and shocking parables. These leaders know it but don’t change. They press harder to get rid of Him – as Matthew confirms in v 45-46.

“The point of this parable is clear. What matters is living for God, not saying the right words. The religious leaders were good at talking righteous talk, but their stubbornly unrepentant hearts showed that repentant sinners would enter the kingdom before them.” (enduringword.com)


  • Let’s be thankful for God’s grace that saves us. His kindness leads us to repentance and faith. Our “work” is to believe. Take a moment to thank Him for his grace and mercy and His steadfast love which never ceases. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  • Reader. If you have not repented and believed, respond to the Spirit of God calling you. To learn more about salvation click here.
Big catch of fish. Pull to shore. Image from Pxfuel.com

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