Jesus uses an array of conversational methods to promote discussion in the Bible. Prior to sharing the Parable of the Two Sons, Jesus asked the chief priest and elders a simple question, “what do you think?” Like an individual in a court room on trial, Jesus flips the script, playing the role of a prosecutor. Instead of being tested by religious leaders, Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario to examine whether these so called scholars understood the nature of God.
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went,” Matthew 21:28-29.
As a parent with three children, this parable is relative, a common occurrence. When a chore is not completed around the house, my wife or I will remind our son or daughter to do this. If another day goes by without any action, my son Daniel tends to come up with some sort of excuse. Sometimes he’s honest, saying,”I didn’t feel like it.” In reality, when tasks around the house aren’t completed, this isn’t a priority, but what do you think?
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you,” Matthew 21:30-31.
When I read this parable yesterday, my initial thoughts were that both sons are at fault. One said no, changed his mind and completed this job, fueled by guilt. Meanwhile, the second son gives lip service without any action. According to the easy key listed above, the first son is the wrong answer, but what do you think? This passage of the Bible serves as a good ice breaker or debate question. Sometimes, Jesus wants people to mull over, ponder and think over portions of the Bible. You may even feel compelled to ask a friend, elders or a pastor before you reach a final position. Nonetheless, don’t be afraid to ask others, “what do you think?”
by Jay Mankus