Session 7: The Story of Two Dysfunctional Sons.

This is post #7 of a series entitled RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 27 podcasts and blogs that focuses a bit deeper on the first five days of what we now call Holy Week. Using the Gospel text found in Matthew 21 through 25, we explore the major differences between organized religion and true relationship with Christ. Practical sessions that give us Jesus’ view of spirituality as compared to the religiousness found in so many people today. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this blog!

Today’s Lectio Divina: (Jesus asked) “Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’ The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went. The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went. Which of the two sons did what the father asked?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s Kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.” Matthew 21: 28-32 (MsgB)

A man had two sons.

Both sons had issues.

Oy Vey! Did they have issues?

One son was disrespectful, lazy, and disobedient, but apparently had enough of a conscience that he could eventually decide to do the right thing.

The other son was either a liar and a cheat, or one with procrastination issues that eventually turned into permanent disobedience.

One father. Two sons. A family who knew how to put the “fun” in dys-fun-ctional!

You see, to Jesus, the whole lot of humankind is dysfunctional.

Yes, that includes you and me.

And, isn’t it great news that God is never put off by our nagging dysfunctions, and goes right ahead with His Christ-centered redemption plan that pulls us out of our self-denial, calling us precious sons and daughters of God, even while we are still deep in our own doo-doo?

That, my friends, in a nutshell, is the good news of the Gospel.

Jesus came, while we were yet sinners, dying and rising on our behalf, making a way for God’s dysfunctional family to come right back into the loving arms of our Creator.

But sadly, as Jesus points out here in today’s text, there will always be some very religious folks in our midst who will never be strong enough to admit to their own weaknesses. Church leaders who assume that they are above the rest of us, the high and mighty, who have no need for humility or forgiveness. Men and women who are so certain of themselves, so perfected by their own strengths, so confident in their own ability to live a good life, that they have little to no need of a Savior; because, for them, there is no need of being saved.


As I see it, it’s very easy for us church-goers and church-leaders in the twenty-first century to look at those Pharisees and Sadducees of the first-century and point a finger at their pride and arrogance, all the while we fail to see the same ugliness in our own lives.

Could it be, if Jesus were standing in our midst today (and, in fact, He is!), might He have the same words for us church-goers…

I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s Kingdom. I came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses, but the crooks and whores believed. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe.”

Change and believe.

You might be saying, “Stop it, Marty.”

“I’ve repented for my sins. I believe in Jesus. I’m accepted into God’s Kingdom!”

And to that, I reply…

I’m not doubting that. I too have done the same. But, from what I read in Jesus’ words, it’s vitally important that those same sons and daughters who have made these important decisions in the past, must still see ourselves as sons and daughters who still need, on a daily basis, to freely admit to our on-going dysfunctions, always remaining open to the “change and believe” invitation extended to us by the Master.

What say you?

My Prayer: Jesus, please help me. As a long-time follower, it would be easy to become prideful and self-reliant, much like those religious leaders in Your midst two thousand years ago. Father God, I readily admit to my on-going dysfunctions, my self-centeredness, and my sinful pride. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me to follow Jesus, as Lord and Savior, knowing there will never be a day when I won’t need His mercy, grace, and forgiveness. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.

My Questions to Ponder: Where has my attitude become more like the second son, where I say things I don’t plan to do, I proclaim things I do not act upon, and I give the impression of being good, yet have little to no intention of acting on those good things? Where do I need to listen carefully to Jesus’ invitation to “change and believe”?

So, what are you hearing from Jesus as we take this journey into the first 5 Days of Holy Week?

Religion or Relationship: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. 

A 27-session Lenten blog series from Matthew’s Holy Week Gospel.

Throughout the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday), you and I will take a deeper look at Matthew 21-25. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use.

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to go onto the next session in this series…

1 thought on “Session 7: The Story of Two Dysfunctional Sons.

  1. Pingback: Session 6: A New Kind of Authority Comes To Town. | The Contemplative Activist (TCA)

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