Tuesday, May 18, 2010
THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS
“Yes, Mrs. Skyler,” Alex shouts and does an army salute to her. Everyone’s favourite music teacher asks the class to be cautious of the finals and do more rehearsals. Meanwhile, Stephen, the twin brother of Alex, nervously walks out of the class. He has this unresolved inferiority issue within him, being overshadowed by his older extrovert twin brother.
“You can do it!” a voice comes from behind Stephen. Mrs. Skyler taps on his shoulder and startles him. “Oh. Thank you,” the scrawny boy replies softly, appreciating her teacher’s every word.
“Eh..Hi, Mrs. Skyler, you are such an inspiration to me,” Alex makes a passing statement before escorting his ‘lil’ brother’ away. The teacher shakes her head at Alex’s overbearing attitude. She knows about his truant behaviour in many rehearsals she organises. Deep within her, she adores Stephen for his ‘trying my best’ spirit.
“Alex, how come I didn’t see you in the rehearsals these days? The finals are just around the corner,” Stephen nudges his brother. “Shhh..Don’t you let Dad know, Ok?” Alex quickly chips in. “Well, I am busy. Anyway, I have a couple of tunes embedded in my soul already. It will be enough for me to ‘distinct myself’, if you know what I mean,” he adds with much arrogance. Stephen thinks highly of his brother and secretly wishes he can be confident like him.
“Meanwhile Stephen, I don’t see any chance for you,” Alex quips. He loves to see Stephen’s unworthy facial expression. He does that often to Stephen and others just to keep himself more fire up. Sometimes, Stephen wishes that he had never taken music as his future career.
These finals will determine the students’ final push towards their career. Mrs. Skyler has had sleepless nights thinking about her beloved students, especially Stephen.
“I know you do not look highly of yourself in this Thursday’s finals but somehow I feel you have it in you,” she encourages Stephen in the teachers’ room. “You know what. I am not alone in this. The other teachers see it too,” she continues, speaking a little louder this time. Few teachers stand and agree with Mrs. Skyler. Stephen feels a little embarrassed but deeply encouraged. He still senses the anxiety within him but a tinge of excitement seems to appear from nowhere.
After the finals….
Mrs. Skyler looks satisfied and generally feels the performances went well. She is excited over Stephen’s playing. It was near perfection. She believes that all students must have a certain degree of anxiety in them to do well. Being too confident can be disastrous.
Alex cannot believe his eyes as he sees the red ink on his paper. Mrs. Skyler walks past and gently taps on his shoulder to console him. As his eyes turn as red as his grade, he catches hold of twin brother Stephen, smiling away. Sensing anger and embarrassment at the same time, Alex catches up with his teacher for answers to his predicament.
“Alex, I am sorry that you are being retained for another semester,” she says politely, doesn’t want to aggravate him further. “But I thought I played well,” Alex chips in angrily.
“It was a unanimous decision by all of us,” she responds. “Alex, you were playing but we felt the tunes were not embedded in your soul.”
The Parable of the Two Sons is recorded only in Matthew 21: 28-31.
Many of the parables where Jesus presented are to convey a strong message to those in authorities who think highly of themselves. This parable is spoken in respond to the chief priests and the elders who enquire about the authority of Jesus’ teachings (Matt. 21:23). Jesus chooses not to answer them, instead He puts the ball back to their court by asking them about John’s baptism, whether from heaven or from men. Jesus knows that they don’t believe in John the Baptist’s ministry. In fact they don’t want anything to do with Jesus who comes with the radical gospel. Fearing of losing more people to Jesus, they have to bite their tongues and swallow their pride to say, “We don’t know” (Matt. 21:27).
In other words, Jesus is trying to say to them, “If you guys don’t even believe in John the Baptist, how can you believe in what I am going to teach?”
Many Jewish people in Jesus’ days would say “Yes!” to him with their mouths but “My way or the highway!” in their hearts. They talk the talk but when it comes to walk the walk, they stop. Pride, legalistic mentality, or love for fame and glory may have blocked these from coming into the blessings of God. They are so full of themselves that they lose touch of what’s essential. Like the rich young ruler, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The rich think that they can buy themselves into heaven!
In contrast, many of those who think they are unworthy, “beating their chest and afraid even to look upward”, they are being touched by God. They are entering in busloads to the kingdom of Light, into the blessings of God. They may say, “No!” initially thinking they are not worthy but when they see the signs and wonders and genuine love of Christ, they believe wholeheartedly!
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3).
Next: The Parable of the Tenants