“Now what do you think? There was once a man who had two sons. He went to the older one and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
‘I don’t want to,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
Then the father went to the other son, and said the same thing.
‘Yes, sir,’ he answered, but he did not go.
Which one of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The older one,” they answered.
So Jesus said to them, “I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John the Baptist came to you showing you the right path to take, and you would not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Even when you saw this, you did not later change your mind and believe him.” (Matthew 21: 28-32).
This was a parable told by Jesus to His disciples. One brother refused to go to the vineyard at first, but later he changed his mind and went. The first brother signifies those who are considered sinners by the society; those who hear of God’s word but refuse to believe in Him. Like the brother though, after some reflection they change their minds and commit their lives to God.
The second brother refers to those who consider themselves righteous; they hear God’s word and believe it so readily, but later on, down the line they stop believing and fall from His grace. One might condemn the older brother because he didn’t accept to oblige to his father’s will at first, but the thought that he realized what was the right thing to do later is what counts.
In our daily lives, some of us are like the older brother; we say no to something without giving it much thought but later on we do what we’re expected to, while some of us are like the other brother; saying yes to something then reneging on our promises.
A story is told about a man and a woman, who were tying the knot. When the time came for them to exchange their vows, the bride developed a cough. “I promise to love you, in [cough] and in health, in good times and in [cough], till [cough] do us part,” she vowed.
“What’s wrong?” The priest asked.
“I seem to have developed a cough father,” the woman replied and the priest unsuspectingly, went on to unite the two. Some weeks later, the married couple started experiencing some difficulties. “I’m leaving,” the wife announced.
Shocked, the husband stood up in protest. “But you vowed to stay with me till death do us part.”
“Did I?” The wife asked. “We can watch our wedding video to confirm. I was coughing the entire time so no, I didn’t promise to love you forever. I knew there would be bad times ahead, and there’s no way I was going to spend the rest of my life in difficulty.” And just like that, she walked out on him.
The wife is like the younger brother; she accepted to marry a man but later left him. The parable encourages us to be firm in our decisions; if it’s a yes, let it be a yes and if it’s a no, let it be a no. It’s good to change our minds, but sometimes that is never a viable option. Ergo, when making decisions in life, we should take time to think about what we really want so that in the process we don’t hurt others.
In the man’s case for instance; he married a woman, hoping to spend the rest of his life with her but she broke her promise. Obviously he was hurt. We’re encouraged to put some thought into the promises we make, so we don’t go back on our word. But just like the first brother, if we realize we made the wrong choice, we can always do what’s right.