Advent 2020 – December 18

What Do You Think?
Alean Saunders-Coffey, EdD
(Alean Saunders-Coffey is a member of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA)

Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV)
The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “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.”

There are times when people in positions of authority—or those who just assume authority is theirs—ask questions of others that are designed to shield their own motives, issues, problems, biases and prejudices. They expect an immediate, direct, honest response from you, and may give the appearance of knowing what is “right” or “in your best interest.”

Often, I have been asked these and similar questions:  May I help you find something? Who told you to come here?  What qualifications do you have for this job?  Are you aware this line is for first class passengers?  Prior to any response—or no response—I’ve had to consider what the “real” unasked question was, and, what a possible reason might be for the person’s wanting to know.

Jesus knew His return to Jerusalem, accolades from the people, and teachings in the temple caused concern for the chief priests and Pharisees.  They feared the status quo, from which they benefited, would be disturbed. 

Threatened by the message of John the Baptist, the religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority and sought to find something in His responses that would allow them to bring charges against Him for revolutionizing established religious practices and belief systems.  Perhaps their “real” questions were, “Who told you to come here?” and “What are you planning to say and do?”

Jesus refused to provide the chief priests and elders of the people with the answers they were seeking and instead offered them a story to consider, The Parable of the Two Sons, which He began by asking them, “What do you think?”

When they did not answer, Jesus presented an allegorical equivalent for the two sons.  The first son eventually obeyed his father after his initial refusal to do so and represents the tax collectors and prostitutes, who were considered outcasts of Jewish society.  They accepted the message of John the Baptist in spite of their previous defiance of religious laws. 

The religious leaders are represented in the second son, who claimed obedience to his father but failed to follow through.  They were skeptical of John the Baptist who proclaimed Jesus as God’s messiah and refused to respond to his call for repentance.

Lessons for us today from the Parable of the Two Sons include:   

  • It is never too late to respond to God’s call,
  • Intentions without actions are of little worth or value, 
  • Obedience is defined by follow through and successful outcomes.

Advent Prayer:
Gracious God,
Show us Your truth, Your will and Your way.  
Lead us in Your light. 
Grant us humility as we listen for Your call to serve You by serving others. 
Allow Your spirit to guide us in this period of waiting, trusting and anticipating Your presence. 

Amen

LABC Zoom Gatherings

LABC Youth Group – 7:00 p.m. Monday

No Soup, But Study – 6:00 p.m. Tuesday

LABC Church Council Meeting – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday

Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study – 10:30 a.m.

Together in Spirit – 6:00 p.m. Thursday

A Time For Prayer – 10:00 a.m. Saturday

LABC Sunday Worship – 10:00 a.m. Sunday

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A Saturday Afternoon Invitation

Saturday, 1:00 pm Friends of Negro Spirituals Christmas Event, “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow”
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