Have you heard the phrase “the proof is in the pudding”? Have you ever thought about what it means? The original phrasing of this British colloquial proverb was that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” and pudding referred to a broad category of sausage – a type of food you definitely want to test out before serving to others.
In the temple courts as Jesus is teaching he confronts his listeners with a similar idea. Two sons respond to their father’s desire to work in the vineyard in opposite ways. One responds favorably and the other responds negatively.
By the end of the day, however, the father weighs their actions to reflect their obedience.
Have you ever stopped to consider why the sons changed their minds? Did the first son feel guilty? Did he have a change of heart? Did his better plans fall through? What about the second son? Did he think he had the father’s favor and choose to take a pass after all? Did he see the first son working and assume it was covered?
Jesus doesn’t explore the motives of the sons because at the end of the day they aren’t all that important.
The proof is in the pudding.
It would benefit all of us to take a step back and observe ourselves. What is the ratio of our verbal obedience to our acting in obedience? Words matter, and Jesus is interested in how we respond to him in that way, but he’s even more interested in how we respond with our lives.