Matthew 21:28-32 – “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.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” NIV
Sometimes it’s best to help people figure something out for themselves rather than giving them an answer that they may or may not accept. The crowd interacting with Jesus was a mixed crowd. Some were there to catch Him in a mistake or sin. Some were there because they wanted to know more about Him. Others were there just for something to do and were not real receptive to being told what to believe or do.
As it becomes apparent that at least part of this crowd was opposed to what He was saying, Jesus began to draw out into the open what they were thinking? He began asking them to state their opinions out loud. He began to draw them into responding to His logic. He asked, “What do you think?” He then told a parable about a father with two sons. One son initially refuse to comply with the father’s request but later relented and complied. The second son agreed to do his father’s request but never got around to doing it. Jesus’ follow-up question was: “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
Jesus then let their own response judge between those sinners who eventually repent and follow God and the pious ones who know the right response but fail to actually follow God. There is a vast difference between knowing the right answer and doing the right thing. Even the person who grudgingly ends up doing the right thing is better than the person who gives the right answer but fails to do the right thing.
Most of us know people and possibly are people who are capable of giving others the right answer without intending to live out that answer. This attitude is expressed with this phrase: “Tell them what they want to hear and they’ll leave you alone!” Who does that with me? How have I done that with other people? How do I do that with God? What benefits would come into my life if I always did what I said that I was going to do?
We may also know people or are people who resist cooperating with others or God at first but eventually with some pain and struggle come around to cooperating. The may be extreme and balk at everything like oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or they may just be resistant in certain areas to people’s (even God’s) advice or instruction; but eventually work through reconciliation for themselves. They have to be involved in the thought process, own the conclusion for themselves, and then they will act on the situation. Who do I know like that? In what ways or with whom do I respond like that? In what ways am I like that with God? What benefits would come into my life if I was less oppositional?
“What do you think?”