“It’s the Heart that Counts”

The Parables of Jesus

April 2, 2022

“It’s the Heart that Counts”

Matthew 21:28-32

About 15 years ago, I presented a children’s message based on today’s Parable. I did my best to update it so that kids could relate to it.

“Today, I want to tell you the story of two boys. I want you to listen carefully to figure out which one listened to his Father.

Now the Father in this story had a big job for his sons. He wanted them to pick up and clean their rooms.

First, the Father asked Jim to pick up and clean his room. Here’s what Jim said, “No! I won’t! I don’t want to!” And off Jim went to play.

Then the dad called Mike over, “Hey Mike, come here for a minute; I want you to do something.”

“Okay, dad!”

“I need you to pick up and clean your room!”

“Okay, Dad,” Mike said, but he didn’t clean up his room. He went out to play instead.

Well, about that time, Jim felt pretty bad; he thought about what his dad had asked him to do and felt sorry for saying no to his dad. So, he went inside and began to clean up his room. (He listened to his heart)

But Mike kept right on playing. “I conned dad,” he thought to himself. “He thinks I’m cleaning up, but it’s more fun to play outside.”


Which of the two boys did what their dad wanted them to?

That’s right, Jim did.

It didn’t make his Father happy when Jim said no, but it did make him happy when Jim was sorry and did the work later.

Sometimes we do the same thing. We say, “I don’t want to,” when we learn what God wants us to do.

But later, we realize – or change our hearts, say we’re sorry, and do what He asks.

This brings us to today’s Parable.


The Parable of the Two Sons

 “What do you think? There was a man who had two 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 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 two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom 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.” Matthew 21:28-32

You’ll notice that I didn’t change much from the actual Parable in my children’s message. Instead, I gave the sons names to make them a little more real and changed the work to something most kids hate. They were supposed to clean their rooms.

Jesus uses the two sons as an analogy for two groups of people in Israel. The first group is the tax collectors and prostitutes, and I would dare to include the homeless, widows, and poor. For this group of people, John’s words burned within their hearts. So they listened to John the Baptist, repented of their sins, and were baptized.

The second group was the Pharisees, chief priests, and church elders. They had no use for John the Baptist and his teachings, and now they felt the same way about Jesus.

So therein is the answer to the question of the two sons. Which of the sons or groups did the will of the Father? It’s self-evident at this point, isn’t it? The first son and the first group. The tax collectors, prostitutes, and economically challenged heard the call of John the Baptist to repentance.

That’s why it’s so crucial for us to spread the Gospel. It’s our job to expose people to the Grace of God and the redemption offered through Christ’s death on the cross. B.G.T.F. (By Grace through Faith)

Dear Jesus. There have been many times when we have declined your call. Let us always listen for your voice as we spread the Good News of the Gospel to the World. May your Holy Spirit guide us to those who have ears and hear. Amen.

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