But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.…
As a whole, this parable shows us how God is served by men, and shows us especially that though there are greater and less degrees of disobedience and impenitence, there is no such thing as consistent uniform obedience. The best that God gets from earth is the obedience of repentance. Men must still, each for himself, try their own way, and only when this is found to be quite foolish and hurtful and hopeless, do they try God's way. No one can take God's word for it that such and such are the things to be done; such and such others to be avoided. We must for ourselves know good and evil, we must be as gods making choice between the good that sin brings and its evil, and if then God's judgment about sin tallies with our own we accept it. Such a thing as simple, perpetual acceptance of God's commands from first to last is not to be found; and repentance, though certainly to be rejoiced over, is, after all, only the second-best thing. Apology, however sincere, is at all times a very poor substitute for conduct that needs none. And yet you will often see that a man considers that a graceful apology, whether to God or men, more than repairs the wrong he has done. It is, no doubt, right to be convinced we have been wrong; it is right to turn in to God's vineyard, even though it be after refusing to do so; but that complacency should mingle with our repentance is surely a triumph of duplicity. To make our very confession of total unprofitableness matter of self-gratulation is surely the extreme of even religious self-deception.
(Marcus Dods. D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.