What’s the Story – Parable of the Two Sons

Back when I was teaching, “Power Testing” was all the rage. Now, this isn’t a blog about contemporary testing theory, neither am I an expert in the same. But, from what I recall, part of what made a Power Test powerful was that the questions got harder as you worked through the test as long as you were getting things right. If you got too many questions wrong, though. things got easier. As a friend of mine once quipped, he knew his SAT test was going to be bad when his next analogy was “A:Apple :: B:_____”.

This is kind of how I feel about the parable of the two sons. After several weeks of wrestling with complicated parables, we finally got to one that seems relatively straight forward. Kinda makes you think that Jesus is taking pity on us for not getting too many right up to this point. The point seems pretty obvious. One son, though at first reluctant, does the will of his father. The other lies and never, ultimately obeys. It seems a pretty simple story that we all can relate to.

But how? How do we relate? Of the several locations where we can enter into the parable, none seem to fit quite right. Maybe with the exception of being the father – but seriously, those darned kids! – neither of the roles call out as particularly flattering to adopt. We want to be the ones who ultimately do the will of our father, but that seems to come with the acknowledgement that we may not have always been immediately willing. We also want to be the kind of child who agrees right away. Are we willing to acknowledge that we might not always follow through.

I guess we might conjure the image of a third obedient and thorough child who is ultimately left out of the tale. One who watches from a safe disctance, smug and maybe a little self-righteous. But I don’t think that an option, either in the world of the parable or even in our own lives. Better I think is to be honest with ourselves, admitting that we probably have been both children at one point or another, and relieved to find out that harsh judgement is not a part of the end of the tale.

For which do you think is more likely? That any child always does the will of his/her father or that our father loves us enough to work with us no matter what we do?

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