By: Staci Stallings
Sometimes my kids blow me away. Last week I was going through the open documents on my computer, trying to pare them down, and I came across this essay my 7th grade daughter wrote for her religion class. Now it is the writing of a seventh grader who is just learning to weave disparate thoughts together into something long enough to please the teacher, but the main theme is profound. See if you don’t agree:
The Two Sons
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ He answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind, and went. He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he didn’t go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.” When Jesus told the parable of The Two Sons, it was meant to represent something bigger and that should be applied today. Even though it is applied today you need to know the basics of it.
The Parable of the Two Sons is found in Matthew 21:28-32. It is told right after the authority of Jesus is questioned and right before the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. Jesus speaks to the believers who say they are without sin, but the tax collectors and prostitutes, aka nonbelievers, were accepting the message taught by John the Baptist.
Some people think The Two Sons represents us and the tax collectors. They think it is meant to represent how the sinners and tax collectors repent and do the right thing while the second son, representing us, say we are going to obey the law and don’t. I think this parable is meant to represent how all people can be good and the people who think they are perfect make mistakes and disobey God’s Law. This parable is important because it shows how everybody is not perfect and the people who everybody thinks are huge sinners repent and do the right thing.
People can apply this parable today by not questioning the Law of God and not think that we are perfect. Also that everyone can do something good no matter who they are. There would be no more war if all people would follow the parable’s meaning because we would all realize that we aren’t perfect and that everybody would follow God’s Law. Everybody should say that they will obey and then obey.
The parable of The Two Sons is a parable found in Matthew. It is meant to represent something more than a story. Even after about 2000 years, we still go back to this parable and say, “I need to be the first son.”
“I need to be the first son.” I need to be someone who maybe doesn’t always get it right, but who is trying. I love that.
One of the things I’ve fought against the hardest my whole life was the belief that God required me to be perfect or I was worthless. It was all-or-nothing, and that belief left me feeling miserable and frustrated. What I see in this essay is a new way of thinking about God and His love. I see that my daughter is getting a new message from me and from God: I don’t have to be perfect, and I can choose to love those who aren’t perfect as well. I will make mistakes, but God can and will forgive me when I do. Yes, everybody should say that they will obey and then obey, but seeing the parable this way, I know that God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows we are going to mess up. He knows we are going to say we will go and then not, or that we won’t and then do. Both are wrong, but both can be forgiven.
None of us are perfect. None of us have perfect obedience. On this point, we all need to be forgiven.
I think that’s a great place to start.