Which son did the will of his father? (Mt 21:31-21:31)

“‘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

Are going into

The kingdom of God

Before you.’”

 

τίς ἐκ τῶν δύο ἐποίησεν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός; λέγουσιν Ὁ ὕστερος. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

This parable explanation is unique to Matthew.  Jesus entered into a dialogue with the chief priests and elders to explain his parable story, which would have been unusual since he normally explained the parable to his disciples.  In this parable story, Jesus asked which of the two sons did the will of his father (τίς ἐκ τῶν δύο ἐποίησεν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός)?  They, probably the chief priests and elders, responded that the first son had done the will of his father, even though he said no at first (λέγουσιν Ὁ ὕστερος).  Then Jesus issued a solemn pronouncement (λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  He said that the tax collectors and the prostitutes were going into the kingdom of God before them (ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Notice that Matthew has Jesus say the “Kingdom of God,” “τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ” and not the usual “Kingdom of heaven,” “βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.”  The first son or the tax collectors and prostitutes had repented or changed their minds since they were willing to work in the vineyard.  The second son or the chief priests and elders said they would work in the vineyard but were like hypocrites who did not follow the Law, even though they wanted others to do so.

 

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The escape from Egypt (Wis 19:1-19:5)

“The ungodly were assailed to the end

By pitiless anger.

God knew in advance

Even their future actions.

Even though they themselves had permitted

Your people to depart,

As they hastily sent them forth.

They would change their minds.

They would pursue them.

While they were still busy in mourning,

As they were lamenting

At the graves of their dead,

They reached another foolish decision.

They pursued as fugitives

Those whom they had begged to depart.

They had compelled them to depart.

The fate that they deserved

Drew them on to this end.

Fate made them forget

What had happened.

Thus they might fill up the punishment

That their torments still lacked.

Thus your people might experience an incredible journey.

However they themselves might meet a strange death.”

Once again, without any specific mention of the Red Sea incident in Exodus, chapter 13, there is an explanation of that event that is unmistakable. These ungodly (ἀσεβέσι) Egyptians had let God’s chosen ones go. However, they changed their minds. They were still in mourning, lamenting at the graves of their dead (νεκρῶν) children. Then they made another foolish decision, even thought God knew in advance that they would. Although they had begged and compelled the Israelites to leave, they now decided to pursue them as fugitives. For this, they deserved the fate that awaited them. While the people of God (λαός σου) experienced an incredible journey, these ungodly people met a strange death (θάνατον) at the Red Sea.