3/10/2020 – The Parable of the Two Sons
Passage: Matthew 21:28-32
Written By: Justus Mack – U of A Wesley Alumnus
When I was in high school and college, teachers and coaches would hit me over the head with cliches such as “character is who you are when no one is watching.” This parable brought back memories of my past mentors, and the point they would try to drive home that our appearances can be reasonably insignificant if our actions don’t reflect that appearance.
Jesus uses a parable to answer a question regarding his authority and God’s will. The two sons are both given a command, and they both respond to it by saying one thing and doing another. Jesus then asks his audience who the obedient son is in the story, and they come to the consensus that the son who said he wouldn’t work but changed his mind and then worked was the obedient Son who did as his father asked. Jesus states that there were “prostitutes and tax collectors” who listened to John the Baptist, then repented and lived righteously. He then reminds them, the chief priest and elders, that they didn’t listen to John, nor did they respect his authority. He was blatantly stating that prostitutes and tax collectors were receiving the kingdom of God before them.
Three things stand out to me in this parable. First is that at differing times in my faith, I found that it was easy for me to be both sons in this parable. There are times where I may not want to respond positively to God, but I will do what he requires anyway. In contrast, I sometimes may appear to be on fire for the Lord, yet my actions won’t reflect that. Second, actions are significant in our relationship with God, and they supersede our appearances and standings within a church body or community. Repenting, praying, and living a righteous life is essential to living a positive relationship with God. Finally, Jesus telling us about John the Baptist and how the chief priest ignored him, brought me back to all the times I ignored my associate pastor or my economics professor because I assumed myself smarter and acting on better authority. When, in fact, I probably should have been listening to those trying to teach me and considering they were perhaps working with better judgment than I was.
In this Lenten season, I challenge you to take this time to examine your relationship with the Lord and what he’s asking of you. I hope you think about your leaders and mentors and their teaching and desires for you, and how they coincide with your relationship with God. I pray that we take this Lenten season to heart, and we use it to focus on God. I pray that we take time to examine God’s roles in our lives and who he has put in our lives to enrich our relationships with him. Amen.