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John the Baptist came preaching the way of repentance, the tax collectors and prostitutes heard it and believed, repented of their sins and sought the forgiveness of the Heavenly Father. The chief priests and elders also heard the preaching of John but they refused to repent and acknowledge their sins before God. The purpose of the Law is to convict us of our sin and not to justify a man by keeping it, for no one in the world is capable of keeping the whole Law of God. Therefore, under the Law, mankind is guilty before God. Whether they are tax collectors, prostitutes, the chief priests or the elders, all of them are guilty and need to repent of their sins, for there is no difference. When God gave the Law, it was for the purpose that men would repent. And those that repented of their sins are the ones that obeyed the commandments of the Law, the true followers of the Law of God.

The elder son represents the tax collectors and prostitutes. Although the elder son started off by disobeying his father saying, “I will not,” he was finally found working in the vineyard. Hence, he had truly obeyed the father’s instructions. The tax collectors and prostitutes likewise, though they started off living a life of sin by disobeying the Law of God, at the end of it, they listened to the words of John and repented before God, fulfilling the true purpose of the Law. They are the ones that have truly listened and obeyed the Law of God.

The younger son represents the chief priests and Jewish elders. Although in the beginning he said, “I will go, Sir,” yet he ended up not working in the vineyard and became the one who truly disobeyed the instructions of the father. The chief priests and the Jewish elders likewise, appeared to be faithful keepers of the Law of God. But, when John came preaching the way of repentance, they rejected his words and refused to repent of their sins. They were the ones who truly defied God’s commandment and disobeyed the Law of God. For if they were the true keepers of the Law, with their deep understanding of the Law, they should have repented and entered the kingdom of heaven way before the tax collectors and prostitutes. But ironically, those who entered the heavenly kingdom first were the tax collectors and prostitutes, whereas the chief priests and Jewish elders found themselves left behind and rejected by God!