December 16, 2017

What Do You Think?

December 16, 2017


Psalm 126

Habakkuk 3:13-19

Matthew 21:28-32

This weekend’s reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

A parable, some say, is a story with one main point. This story of the two brothers seems to be “what you do is more important than what you say,” or some variation of that. There is certainly ample room for disagreement and conversation, which is what I take to be the opening comment before the telling: “What do you think?”

This parable is offered for our thoughtful reflection. It takes a bit of work, pressing hearers to become engaged with the tension in the described situation, encouraging one’s engagement, one’s wrestling with the story to earn the truth in it. What it asked for is not just a quick inherited opinion or a knee-jerk emotional reaction. The challenge is to think through it, around it, using your reason and imagination.

What about another story? Not that it’s just a parable (as if there is any story that is just a parable). The story of an innocent baby born to an unlikely mother and heroic father; starting life in the most humble of places; growing up and learning his father’s craft; responding to God’s call; healing, teaching, preaching; dying a horrible death for the salvation of humankind; being raised from the dead to sit eternally at the right hand of God.

God became human in every sense of the word. God gave that Son as example, teacher, and, ultimately, as the atonement for the sins of all.

Now, “what do you think?”


  • With which of the two brothers do you more nearly identify? Why?
  • Find your own words to express what you think Jesus really meant in this parable.


  • Have you ever promised to do something and then not done it? How did that make you feel?
  • Or done something even though you said you wouldn’t do? How did that make you feel?

O Lord of puzzles and paradoxes, help us to find the understanding to hear what you are saying to us, to be all you call us to be, to do what needs doing in your name. Amen.