Daily Reading & Meditation

Tuesday (December 16): Which son did the father's will?

Scripture: 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 repented and went. 30 And he went to the second 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 harlots 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 harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him."

Old Testament Reading: Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13

1 Woe to her that is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! 2 She listens to no voice, she accepts no correction.  She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God. 9 "Yes, at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. 10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering. 11 "On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;  for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. 12 For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, 13 those who are left in Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth  a deceitful tongue.  For they shall pasture and lie down, and none shall make them afraid."

Meditation: What kind of future are you preparing for? Jesus encourages us to think - to think about the consequences of our choices, especially the choices and decisions that will count not just for now but for eternity as well. The choices we make now will affect and shape our future, both our future on earth as well as in the life of the age to come. 

Repaying a debt of gratitude and showing respect where it is due
Jesus tells a simple story of two imperfect sons to illustrate the way of God's kingdom. The father amply provided for his sons food, lodging, and everything they needed. Everything the father had belonged to them as well. The father also rewarded his sons with excellent work in his own vineyard.  He expected them to show him gratitude, loyalty, and honor by doing their fair share of the daily work.

Converting both heart and will to do what is good and pleasing to God
The "rebellious" son told his father to his face that he would not work for him. But afterwards he changed his mind and did what his father commanded him. The "good" son said he would work for his father, but didn't follow through. He sought his own pleasure, contrary to his father's will. Now who was really the good son?  Both sons disobeyed their father - but one repented and then did what the father told him. Jesus makes his point clear - Good intentions are not enough.  And promises don't count unless they are performed.

A transformed heart filled with gratitude and respect
God wants to change our hearts so that we will show by our speech and by our actions that we respect his will and do it. God offers each one of us the greatest treasure possible - indestructable peace, joy, and friendship with him in his everlasting kingdom. We can lose that treasure if we refuse the grace - the free gift of God's blessing and strength - which the Lord Jesus has won for us through his victory on the cross. The Lord Jesus fills us with the gift of the Holy Spirit who works in and through us for the glory of God. Do you seek to please God and respect his will and loving plan for your life? Allow the Holy Spirit to to fill your heart with the peace, joy, and righteousness of  God's kingdom (Romans 14:17).

"Lord Jesus, change my heart that I may only desire that which is pleasing to you. Help me to respect your will and give me the strength, joy and perseverance to carry it out wholeheartedly."

Psalm 34:1-3,6-7,16-19,22

1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The Father and his two sons, author unknown, from the 5th century A.D.

"Who is this if not the God who created all people and loves them with a fatherly affection, the God who preferred to be loved as a father rather than feared as a lord, even though he was Lord by nature? On this account, at the beginning of the commandments of the law, he did not say, 'You shall fear the Lord with all your heart' but 'you shall love the Lord with all your heart' (Deuteronomy 6:5). To elicit love is not characteristic of a lord but of a father. Of the two sons in this parable, the older one represents the Gentiles, since they come from their father Noah. The younger son represents the Jews, who come from Abraham. 'And approaching the first, he said, "Son, go and work today in my vineyard." 'Today' refers to this present age. How did he speak to his sons? He didnít address them face to face like man, but he spoke to the heart, like God. Man only utters words to the ear, but God supplies understanding to the mind." (excerpt from an incomplete Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, HOMILY 40)


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.  

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