Good morning all!
MATTHEW 21:23-32 (NRSV)
23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”
Believe it or not, I have been told, that I have always been a bit stubborn. Let’s just say that the star designation of Taurus seems to fit me. My mom tells stories about my stubbornness. I would put my hands on my hips and then watch out. My aunt was telling my wife a story the other day about how I would be sent to my room to, “think about it.” I would storm into my room and then a few seconds come right back out and declare, “I thinked bout it.” Jenny says that she sees the stubbornness sweep across my face. My features set and I get a certain look in my eye and that’s it. We have set in for the stubborn moment. I will not be budging for a bit.
If I get a little space, I can gain perspective from the first stubborn instinct. If I do what I call zooming out a bit I can look around, take stock and make the decision that needs to be made. I have learned over time that being stubborn isn’t always the right answer even though I actually feel my body shift. My voice gets lower and quieter and my mind remains stuck for a bit.
When I read the scripture this morning, I felt myself tense up with all of the stubbornness being thrown about. Those who are challenging Jesus can’t turn back on what they had decided before, Jesus is set to make a point and the first son in the parable is set on, “No,” to begin with. I get it. If my parent were to ask me one thing, my instant response is probably a stubborn no as well. No matter if my parents are right, I am prone to disagree at first. Jesus uses this story to explain by whose authority we should be functioning….not a stubborn notion or preconceived notions but who is calling us to do the work and will we anyway.
The first son says no in his stubbornness but with some perspective goes out to the vineyard to work anyway. This is exactly what I would be prone to do! My rash self says no and puts my hands on my hips, with a scowl on my face (you can ask my wife what it looks like…she does a great impression). But with a little perspective, I would go do the work anyway. I was asked. The work needs to be done. The work is good and benefits all. This is the response Jesus highlights and expects. The second son just says an immediate yes but never goes. He actually gives no authority to the parent…just lip service. There is no perspective. There is no motivation.
We are called to do the work anyway with some perspective behind us…even in our stubbornness. By going anyway, we subscribe to the kingdom before us. God takes us anyway, with scowl and all, because that’s what it will take to turn it all upside down.
Time for your day…now go and do the work! 🙂