What does it mean to be doing the will of the Father? Do you know what the will of the Father is in the first place to be able to do it? Jesus shows us what it means to be doing the will of the Father in this section of scripture.
Doing the will of the Father is about obedience. It is about doing what the Father asks of us. It is not about what we think or say but about obeying His will and His commands. But what is it that God asks of us so that we may do his will? Jesus explains what the Father requires of his people when he said, “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.” (John 6:40) The will of the Father is to believe in Jesus Christ. The Father’s will is not about what we are doing, but being obedient to his word, which is to believe in Jesus and thus receive the free gift of eternal life. That is the will of the Father.
We see also that those who do the Father’s will shall be called the brothers and sisters of Christ. (Matthew 12:50) That is, they will be called the children of God, and as God’s children will receive the inheritance promised.
There are many who will claim to be doing the will of the Father but are not. Jesus showed in Matthew 7:21:23, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” There are some who will come to him on the last day claiming to have been doing the will of God but Jesus will reject them. Their supposed claims will be based upon works rather than on faith. You cannot please God on the basis of works. You cannot enter the kingdom of God by just doing works. You must have faith in Jesus Christ as it is only through faith in Jesus that you will be doing the will of the Father.
Now in this section of Matthew 21 we see Jesus speaking to the temple priests and showing them this message. He raises the situation of a father with two sons whom he asks to go out and work in his vineyard. The first says, “I will not,” but later repents and goes out to work in the vineyard. The second says, “I go sir,” but did not go out. Jesus asks the priest which of these did the father’s will. Clearly it was the first son, for the will of the father was to work in the vineyard. In spite of his first assertion that he would not go out, he repented and went, thus doing the will of the father. As for the second son, he said he would go but did not. On the surface he appeared to be doing what he should, but failed to follow through on his word. This was hypocrisy rather than obedience and was even worse than not going.
Jesus likened the tax collectors and sinners to the first son, for they were opposing the will of the heavenly Father, as the first son opposed his fathers will, but in due course they repented and did do the Father’s will. However he likened the priests of the temple to the second son, for although they held the appearance of religion, just as the second son held the appearance of one ready to go and do the Fathers will, the priests were not doing the will of the Father for they did not believe either the words of John the Baptist or the teachings of Jesus. Their lack of faith showed they were not doing the will of the Father, and worse, they were opposing the Father’s will.
As Jesus said also, even when they saw that the effect of John’s ministry they still did not believe. So they were rejected.
We must learn from this. We must learn not to fall into the trap of trying to seek righteousness by works, but trust in faith to God and seek His righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ. There is no other path to the Kingdom of God but through faith in Jesus Christ. And if we are to be doing the will of the Father, we must believe in Jesus and follow his ways.